• Today's Daily Devotion
God Bless America
Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant who came to the United States when he was five years old. He wrote the great patriotic song “God Bless America” during World ...

God Bless America

Irving Berlin was a Jewish immigrant who came to the United States when he was five years old. He wrote the great patriotic song “God Bless America” during World War I while serving in the U.S. Army at Camp Upton, New York. Composed for a musical revue, but not used at the time, the song languished in his files for years. In 1938, as war was spreading through Europe, he reintroduced it in an Armistice Day broadcast on the Kate Smith radio show. He included an introduction that is now rarely heard, urging listeners to “swear allegiance to a land that’s free” and “be grateful for a land so fair as we raise our voices in a solemn prayer.”

Kate Smith sang the song in march tempo with full orchestra and trumpets. It was an immediate sensation and became her signature song. There was even an effort to make it the national anthem, since the words and tune were far more memorable than the complex and more abstract “Star-Spangled Banner.”

The distinguishing feature of “God Bless America” is the fact that it is a prayer. It is not a statement. It is a plea to God for the protection and guidance this nation has always needed and that only he can provide. When we say it or sing it with this in mind, “God Bless America” is a powerful reminder of our need for him in our personal and national lives.

Now, our God, hear the prayers and petitions of your servant. For your sake, O Lord, look with favor on your desolate sanctuary… We do not make requests of you because we are righteous, but because of your great mercy. O Lord, listen! O Lord, forgive!

—Daniel 9:17–19


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