America the Beautiful Nov.2020 addition

posted November 8, 2020

In November 2016, I started writing new lyrics to Katharine Lee Bates’s beautiful hymn. Throughout the last four years, I have added verses. Today, I wrote this.

O beautiful Democracy
Where hope and justice meet
And did you see the people who
Were dancing in the streets?
Our union is imperfect still
And this may always be
May–– more than self––our neighbors love
From sea to shining sea.

[Here are the complete lyrics to date.]

O beautiful for spacious skies
For amber waves of grain
For purple mountains majesty
Above the fruited plains
America! America!
God shed her grace on thee
And crown thy good in neighborhoods
From sea to shining sea.

O beautiful for Reason led
The founding of our rules
The balance of the power trumps
The tyranny of fools
America! America! God mend thine every flaw
Confirm they soul in self-control
Thy liberty in law.

O beautiful for grace bestowed
On our unworthy heads
When we the people don’t respect
What our forefathers pledged
America! America!
Oh let us keep our word
From Plymouth Rock to Standing Rock
The voice of justice heard.

O, Beautiful our open skies
How far our eyes do go
We crave a land unlimited
By anyone’s control
America, our liberty
Has blinded us with greed
Our bounty has deluded us
To take more than we need.

How humbling, that grace bestowed
On our unworthy heads
When we the people turn our backs
On families that fled
America, our borders ache
O, let us find our soul
Unite the families torn apart
Each broken heart be whole.

O beautiful, to make amends
For our abhorrent acts
Our country built by labor forced
On stolen lands and backs
America, repent for this
Repair and say what’s true
Let equity our promise be
Declare these truths anew.

New lyrics by Nerissa Nields ©2020

Many of my dear friends and fellow scribblers are writing daily these days, and maybe you are too. We’re part of a longstanding tradition called 30 Poems in November, and we write to raise funds for the work of Center for New Americans, a local non-profit that supports newcomers to this country on the level of goods, services, helpful information, English lessons and more. I am posting first drafts of my poems daily on my blog, although I am defining “Poem” loosely. I would be grateful if you would sponsor me and/or another poet. All funds go directly to Center for New Americans.

The Comments

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  1. OMG, Nerissa! These are WONDERFUL lyrics!!

    Thank you SO much.

    All the best to you and yours. Take care, stay safe, and be well.


  2. dear Narissa and Katryna,
    I’m embarassed to say that last night at the Old Town School is the first time I’ve heard you. what a great concert!!! I’m an 82 year old self-defined folkie, who went to college with Jeff Warner and learned many a lick and tune from the “Warner” catalog from him while singing along with Pete, Joni, John P., Guy Clark and many many others. My wife of 60 years (also attended last night) have song together for many years.
    Today, my daughter Kim (who also attended the concert last night) sent me this AMAZING version of America the Beautiful. You had me last night!. But after listening to ATB a dozen times, we’re in love!!! Also love the invitation to contribute additional verses!!
    Can’t wait til you come back to Chicago. P.S. We bought a CD last night! (yep really OLD)

    Chris & Nan Parson

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