Let Freedom Ring (My Country ‘Tis of Thee) Lyrics by Abby Anderson


Every now and again you come across a song and a new artist that just makes your jaw drop. The latest one is a young 17 year-old named Abby Anderson.

Abby composed and performed her own version of “My Country ‘Tis of Thee”. The original lyrics to this were written in 1831 by Samuel Francis Smith while he was a student at Andover Theological Seminary. His friend Lowell Mason (whose name you might recognize as the composer of hymns like Joy to the World and Nearer My God to Thee) asked him to translate lyrics from German songbooks into English. In particular, a melody from Clementi’s 3rd Symphony caught his attention, but instead of translating old lyrics he wrote this hymn’s lyrics in 30 minutes.

It might sound odd to hear this little ditty referred to as a hymn, especially since our modern society has all but forgotten the fourth verse, which was intended as to summarize of the first three verses and be sung as a cohesive whole.

Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

The first stanza, which we all know, talks about the United States being a land of liberty, formed by the original pilgrim settlers and preserved by the blood of American soldiers. The second stanza talks about the beauty of the land itself. The third stanza evokes Luke 19:40, where Jesus said told the Pharisees rebuking His disciples that even if they were silenced, the rocks would cry out with joy, and comparing this joy to the joy of living in freedom. And the fourth stanza summarizes it all–the land, the faith of the pilgrims and soldiers, the beauty of the land, and the joy of freedom is all due to the Author of liberty, Great God our King.

As everyone knows, these lyrics were traditionally put to the music of “God Save the Queen”, the national anthem of the United Kingdom. Whether it was co-opted out of respect or meant to be a stick in the eye of the vanquished British isn’t clear, but whatever the reason, it stuck. Until 1931, when Congress adopted The Star Spangled Banner (another patriotic song whose “forgotten” last stanza praises God), My Country ‘Tis of Thee was widely recognized as an unofficial national anthem.

If you haven’t heard Abby Anderson’s rendition, you’re in for a treat. Amazingly, it takes these 183 year-old lyrics and breathes new life into them with a combination of a beautiful new melody and Abby’s amazing voice. Of course, the lyrics are as timeless as the freedom itself that it describes.

You can download a copy here for 99 cents:

Let Freedom Ring – Single – Abby Anderson

Or click here for a preview.

The one thing I appreciate most in Abby’s rendition is that it brings back something that had been missing for almost all these 183 years, and that’s the invocation of God as the author of liberty and freedom.

We live in a world today where politicians and governments act no differently than old European monarchs as if they’re the ones who give us freedom–and if they give it to us, that means they can take it away if we don’t vote for them or otherwise pay them tribute.

But that’s why the Founding Fathers used the word “unalienable” to describe our rights as a nation. “Unalienable” means “unable to be taken away from our given away by the possessor”.

In other words, I have the right to worship as I wish, to pursue happiness as I wish, and even to write this silly blog as I wish without a government censor checking my every word. As fundamental as this sounds–this simple act of writing a paragraph of text is illegal in a lot of places in the world. In China, if a government censor doesn’t like what a blogger writes, his blog will be blocked and he might be put in jail. In countries like Malaysia, if I write anything good about Christianity but don’t put a disclaimer that says “For Non-Muslims Only” I could be censured, censored, or both.

And sadly, even in the United States, so many of us don’t recognize what true freedom is even after so many have fought so hard to preserve it. So many people are focused on “the freedom to choose to do what’s wrong” and so few see it as “the freedom to choose to do what’s right”. Those who choose the former end up themselves being slaves to addiction and wealth and worldly status and libertine behavior. But it’s only a few that choose true freedom.

Cherish your freedom, and cherish the memories of those who died defending it, and cherish the One who makes true freedom possible.

Here are the lyrics, as arranged by Abby:

Let freedom ring
Let freedom ring.
My country, ’tis of thee,
Sweet land of liberty,
Of thee I sing;
Land where my fathers died,
Land of the pilgrims’ pride,
From ev’ry mountainside
Let freedom ring! 

My native country, thee,
Land of the noble free,
Thy name I love;
I love thy rocks and rills,
Thy woods and templed hills;
My heart with rapture thrills,
Like that above.
Let freedom ring,
Great God, our King;
From sea to shining sea,
Let freedom ring. 

Let music swell the breeze,
And ring from all the trees
Sweet freedom’s song;
Let mortal tongues awake;
Let all that breathe partake;
Let rocks their silence break,
The sound prolong.
Let freedom ring,
Great God, our King;
From sea to shining sea,
Let freedom ring. 
Our fathers’ God to Thee,
Author of liberty,
To Thee we sing.
Long may our land be bright,
With freedom’s holy light,
Protect us by Thy might,
Great God our King.

Let freedom ring,
Great God, our King;
From sea to shining sea,
Let freedom ring. 

Let freedom ring,
Great God, our King;
From sea to shining sea,
Let freedom ring.