QOTD: “Hail, Columbia”

 

Hail Columbia, happy land!
Hail, ye heroes, heav’n-born band,
Who fought and bled in freedom’s cause,

“Hail, Columbia” cover sheet 1861
And when the storm of war was gone
Enjoy’d the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast,
Ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize,
Let its altar reach the skies.

Firm, united let us be,
Rallying round our liberty,
As a band of brothers joined,
Peace and safety we shall find.

Listen to “Hail, Columbia”

These words, the first verse, and chorus of America’s earliest, unofficial national anthem were penned in 1798 by Joseph Hopkinson, a US representative and federal district judge from Pennsylvania. He added them to music that had been composed in 1789 for George Washington’s first inauguration. Some do not realize that America had no official national anthem until 1931, when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was designated as such by Congress. Previously several songs had served as unofficial national anthems, and the earliest of these was “Hail, Columbia.”

Joseph Dickinson

Columbia was the early female personification of the United States, taking her name from Christopher Columbus. The use of Columbia focuses attention on the possibilities of the New World and on the United States as its best example.

Several themes are evident in the song. The first is the heaven-born heroes who fought the war that brought American independence and the heavy price they paid in blood and treasure. And it reminds us that we should be grateful to those who shed their blood on our behalf.

But the second theme of the peace and freedom that were won depicts the hope that America felt at the dawn of the nineteenth century. The purpose of the war had been peace and liberty – the war was not an end in itself, but it was worth the terrible price because it restored the ancient liberties that the English colonies had previously enjoyed.

The final theme reminds Americans to be united and rally around liberty as a band of brothers so that we can find peace and safety. There is an ongoing responsibility to secure that liberty for ourselves and our posterity.

Although “Hail, Columbia” remains the official entrance march for the vice-president of the United States, it lost popularity in the twentieth century and was replaced as a national anthem in 1931 by “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Published in Group Writing
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  1. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Steve, what a great post! I had no idea about this information and very much enjoyed hearing the anthem itself. Thanks!

    • #1
  2. tigerlily Member
    tigerlily
    @tigerlily

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Steve, what a great post! I had no idea about this information and very much enjoyed hearing the anthem itself. Thanks!

    Yeah, same here. Congrats on your first post Steve!

    • #2
  3. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Steve, what a great post! I had no idea about this information and very much enjoyed hearing the anthem itself. Thanks!

    Yeah, same here. Congrats on your first post Steve!

    Thanks, @tigerlily and @susanquinn for your kind words. It was actually easier than I expected to do a post, although I haven’t quite figured out inserting images yet :-).

    • #3
  4. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Steve Fast (View Comment):

    tigerlily (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Steve, what a great post! I had no idea about this information and very much enjoyed hearing the anthem itself. Thanks!

    Yeah, same here. Congrats on your first post Steve!

    Thanks, @ tigerlily and @ susanquinn for your kind words. It was actually easier than I expected to do a post, although I haven’t quite figured out inserting images yet :-).

    They look pretty good. It’s a good post, Steve.

    • #4
  5. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Great post!  I had never heard of Hail Columbia, although am familiar with Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean,  a newer (by about half-a-century), and also very popular patriotic song which also takes the conceit of “Columbia” and applies it to the country. 

    Here they both are:

    They don’t write ’em like that anymore. Sigh.

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    • #5
  6. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Hafta say, much as I like Columbia the Gem of the Ocean (I do love a good singalong), I’m of an age that it’s hard not to think of this when I hear it: 

     

    • #6
  7. She Reagan
    She
    @She

    Steve Fast: Some do not realize that America had no official national anthem until 1931, when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was designated as such by Congress.

    This really surprised me.  I would have guessed much earlier than that.

    • #7
  8. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    She (View Comment):

    Steve Fast: Some do not realize that America had no official national anthem until 1931, when “The Star-Spangled Banner” was designated as such by Congress.

    This really surprised me. I would have guessed much earlier than that.

    I was also surprised that it took so long for America to have an official anthem. One source said the movement to make “The Star-Spangled Banner” official gained momentum during World War I, especially when it was played before all the games of the 1918 World Series. I think having an official national anthem and other official symbols has shown that a strong allegiance to the founding credo, which our nation had in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is more important than official symbols for building a free and prosperous nation. 

    • #8
  9. Steve Fast Coolidge
    Steve Fast
    @SteveFast

    She (View Comment):

    Great post! I had never heard of Hail Columbia, although am familiar with Columbia, the Gem of the Ocean, a newer (by about half-a-century), and also very popular patriotic song which also takes the conceit of “Columbia” and applies it to the country.

    I actually was researching “Columbia the Gem of the Ocean,” intending to write about it, when I came across “Hail, Columbia!” and decided it would be more interesting to write about it since it was earlier.

    • #9