June 30, 2019—#4685 Music & the Spoken Word
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Conductor: Mack Wilberg
Organist: Richard Elliott
Announcer: Lloyd Newell
“This Is a Great Country” from Mr. President
Music and Lyrics: Irving Berlin
Arrangement: Michael Davis
“God Bless America”1
Music and lyrics: Irving Berlin
Arrangement: Roy Ringwald
“Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean” (Organ solo)
Music: Thomas á Becket and David Shaw
Arrangement: Richard Elliott
“This Land Is Your Land”1
Music and Lyrics: Woody Guthrie
Arrangement: Percy Faith; adapted by Michael Davis
“God Bless the USA”
Music and Lyrics: Lee Greenwood
Arrangement: Michael Davis
“My Country, ‘Tis of Thee”
Traditional hymn tune
Lyrics: Samuel F. Smith
Arrangement: Mack Wilberg
“Grand Old Flag”
Music and Lyrics: George M. Cohan
Arrangement: Arthur Harris
The Spoken Word
“But One Life to Lose for My Country”
Nathan Hale was a schoolteacher fresh out of college and teaching in a one-room school in New London, Connecticut, when the American Colonies went to war against the British in 1775. Inspired by the cause of independence, he joined the fight and quickly rose to the rank of captain. But the colonists faced a series of defeats in the early months of the revolution, and victory did not seem likely. It was in these circumstances that General George Washington asked for volunteers to spy on the British forces. It was a dangerous mission, and being captured would mean certain death. At first no one volunteered. Then 21-year-old Nathan Hale—alone—stepped forward.
Disguised as a civilian schoolmaster, he slipped behind enemy lines on Long Island to gather information on the opposing troops. The disguise worked for over a week, fooling multiple guards, until finally he was recognized, captured, and identified as a spy. He was immediately sentenced, without trial, to be hanged in the morning. A British officer who witnessed the execution reported Hale’s last words: “I only regret, that I have but one life to lose for my country.”1
Today, statues of Nathan Hale stand in the cities of New Haven, Hartford, Chicago, and New York. But of course, he isn’t the only patriot who gave all he had for freedom—and still wished he could give more. The pages of American history are filled with the accounts of such patriots, and the story is still being written through the heroic acts of today’s patriots. Nathan Hale’s dying words expressed what many of us feel—that freedom is as precious as life itself and that the opportunity to defend those freedoms is an honor and a privilege, even if it is also a sacrifice.
As we celebrate Independence Day, we pay tribute to the long line of brave patriots, past and present, who left the comforts of home, volunteered in the face of danger, preserved and protected our freedoms, and added richness to the American story. We will never forget their sacrifice.
- In William J. Bennett, ed., The Book of Virtues: A Treasury of Great Moral Stories (1993), 716.