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Independence Day Special (July 5, 2015) - #4477 Music & the Spoken Word

Music & the Spoken Word broadcast with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square. July 5, 2015 Broadcast Number 4477. 


“America, the Dream Goes On”1 
Composer: John Williams
Lyrics: Alan & Marilyn Bergman
Choral parts arranged by Michael Davis

“This Is My Country” 
Composer: Al Jacobs
Lyrics: Don Raye
Arrangement: Michael Davis
With the U.S. Marine Band, conducted by Lt. Col. Jason K. Fetting

“Yankee Doodle Dandy,” from Little Johnny Jones
Composer: George M. Cohan
Lyrics: George M. Cohan
Arrangement: Arthur Harris
Soloist Peter Steenblik

“Rally ’Round the Flag” (organ solo)
George F. Root
Arrangement: Richard Elliott

“The Pledge of Allegiance”1
Composer: Charles Osgood
Lyrics: Francis Bellamy
Arrangement: Michael Davis

“God Bless America”1
Composer: Irving Berlin
Lyrics: Irving Berlin
Arrangement: Roy Ringward

“Battle Hymn of the Republic”1, 2, 3
Composer: William Steffe
Lyrics: Julia Ward Howe
Arrangement: Peter J. Wilhousky

  1. On the album Spirit of America and in the CD set Encore Collection.
  2. On the album America’s Choir: Favorite Songs, Hymns, & Anthems and in the CD set Anniversary Collection 
  3. On the album Homeward Bound (with Bryn Terfel).

Spoken Word

“God Bless America”

Irving Berlin, America’s most successful songwriter, was born in a small Russian village near the Siberian border. Threats of violence forced his family to flee Russia when he was only five years old, and they eventually found a home in the United States. So perhaps it’s not surprising that when the well-known singer Kate Smith asked Irving Berlin to write a patriotic song for her, he wrote what he called “a ballad of home. It’s not a song about a flag, or liberty, or something like that,” he said. “It’s a song about home. Instead of the home being a little cottage, it’s America.”1

“God Bless America” became an unofficial national anthem of the United States almost from the moment Kate Smith sang it on the radio in 1938. It earned Irving Berlin a Congressional gold medal, but it has never earned him a dime in royalties—all proceeds from the song are donated to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.

It also became Kate Smith’s signature song. In 1982, she received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor. In bestowing the award, President Ronald Reagan said: “Those simple but deeply moving words, ‘God bless America,’ have taken on added meaning for all of us because of the way Kate Smith sang them. Thanks to her they have become a cherished part of all our lives, an undying reminder of the beauty, the courage and the heart of this great land of ours.”2
“God Bless America” is both an anthem and a prayer—a petition for God’s blessings upon the nation. Through nearly eight decades of good times and hard times, “God Bless America” has stood as a reaffirmation of the sacred truth that we need heaven’s blessing to see us through the days ahead.

Today “God Bless America” is still sung at concerts, sporting and community events, patriotic celebrations, and anytime a spirit of hope and unity is needed. “When storms clouds gather,” as it seems they always do, we surely need that “light from above.” With hearts stirred with humility and gratitude for this “land that we love,” let us join in joyful prayer, “God bless America.”

  1. In Sherly Kaskowitz, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song (2013), 5.
  2. In God Bless America, 90.