My Saviour, Tis of Thee

By Justin Johnson

The tradition of singing My Country, Tis of Thee in churches on July 4th began in 1831 at Park Street Church in Boston. For one hundred years it was generally accepted as the national anthem. It was not until 1931 that The Star Spangled Banner became the official national anthem of America.

My Country, Tis of Thee was written by a 21 year old Samuel Francis Smith. He had just decided to become a minister after studying at Harvard. While studying at Andover Theological Seminary he wrote the now popular words.

Mr. Smith considered the greatest thing he could do for his country was to preach the gospel, as he would spend his entire life in ministry and die on the way to a preaching engagement.

Back to the Roots

Unfortunately, it has become evidently clear to many that our country has lost its way. Preachers are no longer known for the courage, bravery, and commitment of men like Adoniram Judson (another Andover graduate and life missionary to Burma). Instead, preachers today are given the poor reputation of hucksters, con men, and legalistic frauds.

Our country is not the country it once was. We need to go back to the roots of greatness. Those roots do not begin with the founding fathers, a Constitution, or a militaristic war. The roots are found in Jesus Christ who, as Smith wrote, “authored liberty” (Gal 5:1).

New Clearer Words

In most hymnals you will find a patriotic section. Every year churches across the nation will sing these songs to honor the country that Samuel Francis Smith wrote about.

Combined with a general doctrinal apathy there is now a stronger orientation in our churches on “defending freedom” through flag-waving and military memorials than with our ministry in Christ.

Yet, freedom, at its roots, does not come from a defense of America or democracy. The Bible says that freedom comes through deliverance in Christ. This year we need a new anthem that reflects that truth.

Here are some new lyrics to the popular tune that was once our anthem. The focus of these new lyrics is on the “liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free”. Perhaps singing this song will bring about the needed change to redeem not only this country, but the entire world!

My Saviour, Tis of Thee

You can now sing along with the music recorded from the Grace Hymnal here.

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Published: July 3, 2010
Last Modified: July 1, 2017
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