Restoring the Sacred

Monday, December 1, 2014

Words of Relevance: Irving Berlin: God Bless America

Irving Berlin (1888-1989), about whom George Gershwin is quoted as saying:

"I want to say at once that I frankly believe that Irving Berlin is the greatest songwriter that has ever lived.... His songs are exquisite cameos of perfection, and each one of them is as beautiful as its neighbor. Irving Berlin remains, I think, America's Schubert. But apart from his genuine talent for song-writing, Irving Berlin has had a greater influence upon American music than any other one man. It was Irving Berlin who was the very first to have created a real, inherent American music…." 

He gave us such memorable musical hits as: "White Christmas," "Puttin on the Ritz," "How Deep is the Ocean," "Say it with Music," "Always," and so many others. 

He is probably remembered most fondly for his "God Bless America,"
written in 1918 and revised by him in 1938.  The opening lyrics of that great song make up today's quote, and one has to wonder whether the speech police would permit the public singing of such "controversial" lyrics today given the mention of prayer and God.

Here's the quote:
While the storm clouds gather far across the sea,
Let us swear allegiance to a land that's free. Let us all be grateful for a land so fair,
 As we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.
God bless America, Land that I love. Stand beside her and guide her Through the night with a light from above. From the mountains, to the prairies, To the oceans, white with foam, God bless America, my home sweet home.