“God Bless America” Anniversary

“God Bless America” First Performed: Anniversary, 1938 – 80 years ago this song written by Irving Berlin during World War I but was first performed by Kate Smith during World War II. #GodBlessAmerica

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“God Bless America” First Performed: Anniversary, 1938 – 80 years ago this song written by Irving Berlin during World War I but was first performed by Kate Smith during World War II. #GodBlessAmerica



“God Bless America” Anniversary

Held annually on November 11. God Bless America, written by Irving Berlin. In 1938, Kate Smith first sang it during a radio broadcast. Soon after that, it became a great patriotic song. Not to mention, Smith’s most requested song too.

2018, marks the 80th Anniversary!

God Bless America Anniversary

Actually Written during World War I

Did you know the song was actually written in 1918 during World War I? Berlin actually wrote it for a musical called Yip, Yip, Yaphank while serving in the Army at Camp Upton near Yaphank, Long Island, NY. He didn’t think the song fit the tone of the music, a comedy, so he didn’t use it. He put it away. It was just put away for twenty years. Where Berlin pulled it out and put touches to make it a song about World War II.

Final Touches During World War II

The final touches had two drafts. The earliest manuscript was from October 31, 1938, while the earliest “draft” is dated November 2, 1938. Berlin planned it just right for the November 10, 1938, CBC radio broadcast to honor Armistice Day. It broadcasted at the New  York’s World’s Fair.

Quotes

Smith had this to say about the song, “I feel it’s one of the most beautiful compositions ever written, a song that will never die.”

In 1940, Berlin said in the New York Times, “It’s not a patriotic song, but rather an expression of gratitude for what this country has done for its citizens, of what home really means.”

Donated Royalties and Revenues

Did you also know that Berlin signed his royalties and revenues from the song to the Boy Scouts of America and the Girl Scouts of America?

official Presidential campaign song

During the Presidential campaign for Franklin Roosevelt in 1940, and his opponent Wendell Wilkie both used the song as their official campaign song. The song represented tolerance with culture and religion.

According to Song Facts

Berlin’s original 1918 lyric read:

Stand beside her
And guide her
To the right with a light from above
Make her victorious
On land and foam

He changed it in 1938 to take away
the military (“victorious”) and political (“right”)
implications, amending it to:

Stand beside her
And guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains
To the prairies
To the ocean white with foam

Full Lyrics to God Bless America

God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America, land that I love
Stand beside her and guide her
Through the night with the light from above
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
From the mountains to the prairies
To the oceans white with foam
God bless America, my home sweet home
God bless America, my home sweet home
Songwriter: Irving Berlin
Sources:

America Bless God

America Bless God

First Published November 9, 2017. Last updated or republished November 9, 2018.

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