Samuel Frances Smith graduated from Andover the same year he wrote "My Country ‘Tis of Thee." He was going through a stack of German childrens' songs given to him by a friend on February 2, 1832. One song caught his eye and he read it and found that it was patriotic. He thought of his own great land and began to pen the words:
Our father's God to thee,
Within half an hour, he had written the song My Country ‘Tis of Thee. It has become our favorite American hymn of patriotism.
Though the text of the hymn is distinctively American, the tune is an international one. It is the official or semi-official national melody of about twenty nations, notably that of England where “God Save the King/Queen” has been sung for more than 200 years. The origin of the tune seems to go back deeply into the singing traditions of Europe. Traces of the tune have been found in Swiss music as early as the seventeenth century. It has also been found in the musical heritages of Germany, Sweden and Russia. Its first known publication was in a hymnal entitled Thesaurus Musicus in 1740. In 1841 one of the world’s master composers, Ludwig Beethoven, wrote several interesting piano variations on this tune.
Justin Kollmeyer. "My Country, ‘Tis of Thee." The Citizens Online Fayette County, Georgia. July 2, 2000.
E. Wayne Thompson and David L. Cummins. This Day in Baptist History. Greenville, South Carolina: Bob Jones University Press, 1926. Page 44,45
The Inkwell Gallery. Gettysburg, PA. "Samuel F. Smith"
Photo from Kenneth W. Osbeck, 101 Hymn Stories (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Kregel Publications, 1982). p. 162.