Should God Bless America?

Steven Tyler sings the National Anthem at the AFC Championship Game 2012

Do we now have two National Anthems? The “Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America”? At Yankee Stadium they play the Banner before the games and the Irving Berlin masterpiece in the seventh inning (and not just during playoff games).

Frankly, I think “God Bless America” is definitely more inspiring, more melodic, and much easier to sing and remember.

I do love the creativity that various artists have shown on national television, starting with the remarkable Jose Feliciano rendition of the awkward Star Spangled Banner. The song is just plain old and lacking meaning today – “Rockets red glare?” Please…

On the other hand, “God Bless America” is fascinating to me because of the irony of Berlin – Jewish, but not practicing, invoking God in his heartfelt homage to the country he loved, a place which had given him a fabulous opportunity to escape the tenements of New York City.

I wonder if any of you ever question our overarching pride as Americans as we ask God to bless America rather than the unlucky folks who live in Honduras or Kazakhstan, and do it with gigantic American flags billowing. But I admit, I love the song and would gladly have it replace the Francis Scott Key oldie. I guess I am as jingoistic as the next guy when it comes to musical taste.

Questions: Do you like the dual anthems or should we settle on one?

Does the concept of “God blessing America” bother you?

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14 thoughts on “Should God Bless America?

  1. Joe Cochrane

    Yes, I have a problem with substituting “God Bless America” for the “Star Spangled Banner”. The former is truly a beautiful and inspirational tune but our Country is not “America”. That is a Continent on which many other countries are located. We are the United States of America (although we may not be united for very much longer if we continue down the current path) and the “Star Spangled Banner” refers directly to our Flag. Let’s leave this alone. It has stood the test of time and does not need to be changed. If people have difficulty singing it then they should practice!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. Nick Bloom

    God, Lloyd! Is nothing sacred anymore? Just kidding… Both are beautiful songs. Maybe Berlin should have just added the word “Please” at the beginning. Both are a little like prayers of thanks and remembrance. IMO there’s only a problem when authorities force us to sing it. Gosh, without one or the other, think of all the wonderful renditions we would have missed – from Jimmy Hendrix at Woodstock to Roseanne Barr (kidding about that one). But here is a list of someone’s idea of the top five best ever. Enjoy:

  3. Jim Whitney

    I am sure there are those who feel being exposed to a song with God in the lyrics is mortifying. To them I say “The Bill of Rights guarantees all of us freedom OF religion and none of us freedom FROM religion.” As for replacing the Star Spangled Banner, a more appropriate choice would be America the Beautiful. But as long as we are going to sing God Bless America there is only one line I would rewrite if I could. “…and guide us…to the RIGHT with the the light from above.”

  4. Val Zanchuk

    Interesting comments. The singing of the national anthem at public sporting events goes back to the desire to inspire patriotism during WWII. The Star Spangled Banner did not become the official national anthem until the early 20th century. The fourth, and rarely sung verse of the Star Spangled Banner refers to God’s blessings. God Bless America was written around the time of WWI, but did not become popular as a patriotic song until just before WWII. The other “national” song, America the Beautiful, written in the early 20th century, also has inspirational words and music, with God mentioned in every verse. The concept of God blessing America is a consistent theme, although less so in the Star Spangled Banner. I think America the Beautiful strikes the better balance between patriotism, love of land, invoking God’s blessings, and musicality. However, I question the playing/singing of any national song at a sporting event. The original reason for the practice is long past. To what purpose do we continue to do this?

  5. Buelldog

    I don’t think we have ‘dual anthems’. I hear ‘Crazy Train’ and “We Will Rock You/ We Are The Champions’ at every sporting event I attend, but I don’t think anyone is confused about whether they are our national anthem. Why the confusion about “God Bless America?”

  6. Mark Anderson

    I like Zanchuk’s comments and historical perspective. “God Bless America” actually has a lead-in when it is sung in its entirety that emphasizes that it is a solemn prayer. It is appropriate at Yankee stadium to pause for this song to remember the lives of all the people lost on 911 and the significance of that date to the City of NY and America. We quickly forget our tragedies like Pearl Harbor, and the people who serve every day to protect us against these horrific events.

    The Star Spangle Banner is not a prayer, but an anthem about the symbol of what we believe as a nation. It is about the feeling that Francis Scott Key had when he saw the flag through the billowing smoke of war, and the inspiration it has given to all who uphold the flag on the battlefield and in their lives. The people who butcher our anthm should be held accountable, as well as the people who hire them to sing it – but however they do it, we must remember that it reflects the freedom of expression that our Constitution upholds. Jose Feliciano’s rendition of the Banner should not be put in a class with the likes of Roseann Barr. I found Jose’s version touching and inspiring because it reflected the voice of millions of immigrants who have come to this country seeking freedom and all our flag stands for. In the 1700’s my family were immigrants, in the 1900’s my wife’s family were immigrants. It is great to hear their voice.

    I hope we add a dozen more songs of inspiration to our events. Why not America the Beautiful.

  7. wes

    I would vote to stick with Scott Key. Asking God to bless you is an act of humility. God blesses all the nations, not just America, according to his will. Interestingly, he has often done this through the Jewish people as he promised he would.

  8. Josh Weaver

    “The Bill of Rights guarantees all of us freedom OF religion and none of us freedom FROM religion.”

    I disagree. The constitution states the government shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion. A national anthem or government institution that espouses preference of any particular religion is just that. It is alienating to members of every other religion and like it or not the USA is home to people of all races, creeds and religions. We may have a Christian majority in this nation so it may be easy to say that Christian theology can be used to support our laws but that is a treacherous stance. What happens if a religion we disagree with becomes the majority? Theocracies are bad news whether they’re based on Islam, Christianity or Spaghetti Monsterism. What would happen if some other religion were to rise to power? What place does religion have in government? I don’t believe your religion should in any way be tied to patriotism, that is a very very dangerous road. I say this not just because I want to keep religion out of my government, but because I very desperately want to keep government out of my religion.

  9. Don Searles

    I have been in favor of replacing the Star Spangled Banner with God Bless America for many years. The Star Spangled Banner speaks of war, killing and suffering and is old, hard to sing, and should be replaced. God Bless America speaks of our beautiful country and is easy to sing. The song is a prayer asking God to bless our country and we certainly need him to bless it, if he will, given the terrible condition it is in.
    Don Searles

  10. Dallas Cook

    I enjoy the way its done at Yankee Stadium. They cant play baseball anymore after they left that “hollowed ground” that Ruth built ! So lets stick with the two songs as classics but be more selective on who we let sing them !

  11. Jeffrey Scott

    The Star Spangled Banner is our National Anthem….period. I don’t care if the mention of war and fighting a battle offends most liberals and their weird sensibilities. America was founded by fighting for our freedoms and throwing off tyranny and that should not be forgotten or minimized in anyway.
    I don’t have a problem with God Bless America and it’s a great song but it is not our National Anthem.

  12. Ray Frattone

    I like all 3 songs,The Stars Spangled Banner, God Bless America and America The Beautiful. I prefer artists to sing them as they as they were originally sung.


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