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July 6, 2013 by William H. Scarle, Jr.

“In Conclusion.”  We have all heard the expression.  It is reserved for that final remark the speaker thinks most important, and wants everyone to remember.  This is why last stanzas of “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs” are important.  During this birthday week of our nation let me remind you of a few of them beginning with our national anthem.

“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand Between their loved homes and war’s desolation; Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven rescued land Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!  Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just; And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust!’  And the Star – Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”

Or one of my very favorites is the last stanza of “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee.”

“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.”

Then there is the fourth stanza of “Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory.”

“In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the sea, With a glory in his bosom that transfigures you and me; As he died to make men holy, let us die to make men free, While God is marching on.”

Then there is the second stanza of “America the Beautiful,” which contains one of the most profound phrases in our patriotic repertoire.

“O beautiful for pilgrim feet, Whose stern impassioned stress A thoroughfare for freedom beat Across the wilderness!   America!  America!  God mend thine every flaw, Confirm thy soul in self-control, Thy liberty in law.”

The last stanza of “God of Our Fathers” is likewise a prayer.

“Refresh Thy people on their toilsome way,  Lead them from night to never ending day;  Fill all our lives with love and grace divine, And glory, laud, and praise be ever thine.”

These songs celebrate holiness, justice, self-control, liberty in law.  These, of course, are the things that made America great.  Our celebrations define our values.  When the world sees us celebrate these things we will offer the world hope.  When they see us celebrate perversity we will become a target for aggression.   Our prayer must be, “America, America, May God thy gold refine, Till all success be nobleness, and every gain divine.”

(Bill Scarle can be contacted at  END-whs