God Bless America – and All Christendom

Kate Smith preparing to sing God Bless America on the radio.

Kate Smith preparing to sing God Bless America on the radio.

Ordinary Miracles

(This is an email a reader, Julie from Pennsylvania, sent me. It is not obviously miraculous, except in the sense of how we used to try to build each other up rather than splinter into a million factions all warring with each other. I did not vet the story, so some parts of it might be apocraphyl. But it sounds authentically like what we used to be, with touches of the America I knew in my childhood. I loved it, so I share it with you. And yes, there is a link to Smith’s first public performance of the great, inspiring song at the end of the story. Note that when this song was first performed, we were not at war, but knew that the Storm of war was upon us. I offer the blessing she invokes on all of Christendom now. A ha-CJ)

Frank Sinatra considered Kate Smith the best singer of her time, and said that    when he and a million other guys first heard her sing “God Bless America” on the radio, they all pretended to have dust in their eyes as they wiped away a tear or two.

Here are the facts… The link at the bottom will take you to a video showing the very first public singing of “GOD BLESS AMERICA”. But before you watch it, you should also know the story behind the first public showing of the song. The  time was 1940. America was still in a terrible economic depression. Hitler was taking over Europe and Americans were afraid we’d have to go to war.

It was a time of hardship and worry for most Americans. This was the era just    before TV, when radio shows were HUGE, and American families sat around their radios in the evenings, listening to their favorite entertainers, and no entertainer of that era was bigger than Kate Smith.

Kate was  also large; plus size, as we now say, and the popular phrase still used today is in deference to her, “It ain’t over till the fat lady sings.” Kate Smith might not have made it big in the age of TV, but with her voice coming over the radio, she was the biggest star of her time. Kate was also patriotic. It hurt her to see Americans so depressed and afraid of what the next day would bring . She had hope for America, and faith in her fellow Americans. She wanted to do something to cheer them up, so she went to the famous American song-writer, Irving Berlin (who also wrote “White Christmas”) and asked him to write a song that would make Americans feel good again about their country. When she described what she was looking for, he said he had just the song for her.

He went to his files and found a song that he had written, but never published, 22 years before – way back in 1917. He gave it to her and she worked on it with her studio orchestra. She and Irving Berlin were not sure how the song would be received by the public, but both agreed they would not take any profits from God Bless America. Any profits would go to the Boy Scouts of America. Over the years, the Boy Scouts have received millions of dollars in royalties from this song.

This video starts out with Kate Smith coming into the radio studio with the orchestra and an audience. She introduces the new song for the very first time, and starts singing. After the first couple verses, with her voice in the background still singing, scenes are shown    from the 1940 movie, “You’re In The Army Now.” At the 4:20 mark of the video you see a young actor in the movie, sitting in an office, reading a paper;  it’s Ronald Reagan.

To this day, God Bless America stirs our patriotic feelings and pride in our country. Back in 1940, when Kate Smith went looking for a song to raise the spirits of her fellow Americans, I doubt whether she realized just how successful the results would be for her    fellow Americans during those years of hardship and worry….. and for many  generations of Americans to follow.

Many people don’t know there’s a lead in to the song since it usually starts with “God Bless America …..” So here’s the entire song as originally sung….. Let us pray he still does, and it’s still not too late.

Here is the first public performance of God Bless America.

About charliej373

Charlie Johnston is a former newspaper editor, radio talk show host and political consultant. From Feb. 11, 2011 to Aug. 21, 2012, he walked 3,200 miles across the country, sleeping in the woods, meeting people and praying as he went. He has received prophetic visitation all his life, which he has vetted through a trio of priests over the last 20 years, and now speaks publicly about on this site. Yet he emphasizes that we find God most surely through the ordinary, doing the little things we should with faith and fidelity. Hence the name, The Next Right Step. The visitations inform his work, but are not the focus of it. He lives in the Archdiocese of Denver in the United States.
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34 Responses to God Bless America – and All Christendom

  1. nanannda2 says:

    I’m still crying. . . Would that this prayer/song would be on the lips of every American whose heart is breaking because of what we have lost and continue to lose every single day, who is mourning the death of the “American Dream.” But most of all, who is saddened by the rejection of God himself, and therefore his blessings on our land. When I sing this song today, it is with a heart heavy with sorrow and a deep awareness of how pitifully undeserving we are of such a blessing. Maybe we can only sing “God have mercy on America.” Now that’s a prayer He is anxious and willing to answer. . .

    Like

  2. mmbev says:

    As one of your “kissing cousins”, I want to say how very glad I had the opportunity to see and listen to this. Comparing this to the latest renditions that I have seen, hands down, she wins.

    “Let us pray He still does”, for both our countries. I dread the next Canadian election.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. CrewDog says:

    Hey Charlie,

    Here’s something you might appreciate from the Thomas More Law Center. An outfit that I support.
    http://us2.campaign-archive2.com/?u=adf1a83154acea60d091b413c&id=1967965665&e=3b7c597bb1

    GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

    Like

    • charliej373 says:

      Thanks, CrewDog. I always like it when someone honors my gal, St. Joan of Arc. (Yeah, that is sometimes how I think of this great patron of mine – as my gal! So far she hasn’t knocked me upside the head for it.)

      Like

  4. Ahhh, Kate Smith. She was a real beauty in many ways beyond her magnificent voice. Thanks, for pointing out that Reagan appeared in the clips, Julie, since I might have missed it otherwise.

    I had the privilege to serve in the USN during Reagan’s entire 2nd term, respected him greatly as a leader, liked him as an individual, and miss him still. As a Commander In Chief, he was tops in my book. Our mission was anti-submarine warfare which we performed 24/7 from a small rock in the Aleutian chain of islands. We were good at what we did, mostly because there was a genuine mutual respect between the fleet and CINC, and he always ensured we had the tools to get the job done.

    I sometimes spend too much time brooding about the characters I dislike (e.g. – the current CINC, who I think is the antithesis of Reagan), and not enough time immersing myself in beautiful things. Kate’s little performance perked me right up, and I spent just over 5 minutes of my day on it! That’s time well spent!!

    It’s not that I’m blind to the evil, but I know what the remedy is.

    Jesus, we trust in You!

    God Bless,

    MP

    Liked by 1 person

    • NancyA says:

      We had a young friend of my son’s to dinner one night. They are about to graduate high school and this young man is entering the military. He (sincerely) said that our current C in C has done more for the military than any other president. WE were aghast and argued the point, but he truly believed. Made me very afraid.

      A question for all… I am looking for a CD of the rosary that I can play at night while my daughter, 13, “special needs”, falls asleep. She does not know her prayers, no matter how many times we pray (NOT that I pray them enough with her), and I hope this will help. But it must be clear, very clearly enunciated. If anyone has recommendations, I’d appreciate it. I have just sampled a number that I was able to on the internet and none meet the criteria. They have music that is overriding the prayers, or an accent that will not help, etc. I am not looking for one that has children praying, because they seem also not very clear. (I might just make my own up; light bulb! LOL) Thanks!

      Like

      • Judith says:

        Nancy, I like the CD by Dana and Fr Scallon. Can be purchased thru EWTN Catalogue, multimedia. In search box type ‘ rosary by Dana’. You might also try Youtube.com and type in ‘rosary by Dana’. It’s posted by Miracle Prayer Group . I don’t know if those can be downloaded to your computer. Be Blessed. Judy

        Like

        • NancyA says:

          Thanks, Judith! Gosh, I think I have that on cassette! We met her when we went to the Totus Tuus Conference in Philly maybe 20 years ago!

          Like

          • connie says:

            I gave my sister one of those CD’s by Dana and Fr Scallon- she would play it at night for her grandson shom she’s raising. He has some behavioral problems, ADD, anxiety, and I don’t know if he learned his prayers that way but it really helped him(and my sister) have an easier time of it at bedtime. They wore the CD out and I had to give her another one!

            Like

      • Petra says:

        NancyA: I downloaded the different decades from a website called Rosary Army. It’s a man and woman saying the rosary with no background music. I like it because sometimes the music distracts me. Also, the reflections are scriptural and very short. I made my own CD with it and it’s good for when I’m doing housework and want to pray but can’t keep track of how many Hail Mary’s or decades I said. I like to pray along with it because it seems to keep me more focused than if I am praying alone. Sometimes I even turn it on at night when I go to bed and pray along until I fall asleep.
        http://rosaryarmy.newevangelizers.com/prayers/free-rosary-mp3/

        Like

      • Nancy have you heard the Catholicity version? It is simple and clear. You can order it here: http://www.catholicity.com/cds/rosary.html. Some parishes have displays of the cds.

        Like

    • Kati says:

      Michael Patrick,

      I have followed your posts over at Pelianito’s for some time…but never knew that you were a Navy guy. You must have been connected with one of those acoustic listening stations that the Navy had. My husband was an anti-sub Naval aviator and was also very good at what he did. He too was a big Reagan fan and he also knows the best remedy for any evil! 🙂

      Jesus, we DO trust in You!

      Like

    • Mick says:

      Michael Patrick, thank you very much for your service. My husband’s grandfather was career Navy, so I’ve got a really soft spot for the Navy. 🙂

      I agree with you wholeheartedly about Reagan. He was a gem of a President, and a gem of a man. The current occupant (occupier?) of the Oval Office isn’t worthy to be mentioned in the same breath as Reagan, in my opinion.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. rickie says:

    Bittersweet memories of our yesterdays bring up the tears. How we love our country ! Whenever I hear this song sung, I think of the many people who have sacrificed their lives for our country and the cause for goodness and virtue to endure.
    My dad was a marine who served in WWII in the South Pacific, Taipan, Iwo Jima, Guadalcanal. Every time I think of how those war experiences affected his life, I remember how painful it was for him to relive those memories. He used to ask me to pray for his friend William Sheffield, whom he felt died in his place. He used to say so many good men died. I often thought he wished he could have died for them instead and in a way I felt he was asking me to pray for him as well, which I did.
    The other day, I ran into a vet at mass with a dog. That dog was so attentive to him, didn’t take his loving eyes off him for a minute. Thank God for that. I am praying that pet therapy continues for our vets, that it continues to be funded by the government. They provide our men and women vets with a great service. They save lives !
    God bless America and the people who love her and in a special way those who have suffered for her freedom !!! I thank You Lord for this place America that You have given to us. Thank You for the people of America, and the blood they shed for freedom.
    I get a little emotional hearing that song and others like our national anthem, but I can’t help it. I love her (America) and I love the people who love her. SEMPER FI !!!

    Liked by 2 people

    • charliej373 says:

      In a series of meetings on his great work, “Democracy in America,” Alexis de Tocqueville started telling crowds that, “America is not good because she is great; she is great because she is good. When she ceases to be good she shall cease to be great.” (Many mistakenly think he said this in his book. He did not…it was on tours discussing the book that he turned and started using this phrase.)

      We Americans used to be great. May we one day be good again.

      Liked by 5 people

  6. …having said that (above), I popped over to Drudge and just couldn’t overlook the current lead story: http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2015/06/10/revealed-the-secret-immigration-chapter-in-obamas-trade-agreement/

    Thank God a residual rendition of “God Bless America” was still playing softly in my head, or I would have gone completely off the rails. Quick, someone pull up a good youtube video of something like “Amazing Grace” with bagpipes to talk me down the rest of the way.

    Maybe I should end my posts with, “Jesus, HELP me to trust in You.”

    God Bless,

    MP

    Liked by 2 people

    • charliej373 says:

      Ha Michael…along the way of my pilgrimage, I often said with defiant intensity that “I will fear no evil,” to people who chided me for taking no protection – and then would privately pray that God help me to fear no evil, for there were plenty of times I was scared.

      Liked by 2 people

    • KW says:

      It’s not “Amazing Grace”, but here’s a nice version of “America the Beautiful” put together by DivineMercyForAmerica.org and sung by Annie Karto. I hope it holds you until someone finds a great version of “Amazing Grace”: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E0bs9ZvM8gQ

      Liked by 1 person

      • charliej373 says:

        Oh, I was at a conference in Colorado Springs a few years ago – and was asked to sing and play a little trumpet with a small makeshift group. One of the singers was a speaker at the conference – Annie Karto. She is such a gentle, sweet lady.

        Like

      • KW, your selection was perfect nonetheless. Thanks! I did happen to find some good highland and Irish bagpipe renditions of “Amazing Grace”, but this one seemed to fit better with the thread: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UUZHTE1jMXg

        Naturally, the sound of pipes led me to thinking about Ireland again… rather than let that give way to more brooding, I entrusted the Irish to my patron Sts. Michael (Protector of the Faith) and Patrick (Patron of Ireland), as well as our family’s patron, St. Lorcan Ua Tauthail, son of Murtagh, Chief of the Murray Clan (St. Lawrence O’Toole is Patron of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin).

        There, I’m already refreshed, refocused and not feeling so helpless at the moment.

        Jesus, I trust in You!

        God Bless,

        MP

        Like

  7. diane says:

    What a great break in our day. Beautiful. I remember her on Ed Sullivan with her glittery dresses and voluminous singing, her a Ethel Merman – great memories.
    All the comments these past few days have overwhelmed me. I love the teaching we get from here. God Bless you all and thank you all so much. Love. I do.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Judith says:

    As a kid, I would run over to the neighbors after school to watch ‘The Kate Smith Show’ [think that was the name]. She’d close with “When the Moon Comes Over the Mountain”. I loved it and sang right along with her. Watched Roy Rogers, too. What innocent days. God bless us and fill us again with innocence and humble obedience. I’m in need of some patience, now, too.

    Like

  9. EllenChris says:

    Back in the 1980s my husband and I lived in the Adirondacks, in Saranac Lake which is the next town over from Lake Placid. This is knowledge from the locals: Kate Smith became a Roman Catholic and belonged to St. Agnes’ Parish in Lake Placid village. She retired to what we call a “great camp” (a nice compound) on one of the islands in the middle of Lake Placid. Every 4th of July, she would come into town for the fireworks celebration and would sing “God Bless America.” It was such a tradition, that after she died, they would always play a recording of her singing the song. I don’t know if they still do this, but most likely they have kept the tradition going. She left money and instructions in her will that a pink marble mausoleum was to be built in St. Agnes cemetery for her final resting place. The pastor at the time, however, said it was too big and refused to allow it. For years, her coffin remained on ice while the lawyers battled it out. Eventually a compromise was reached in which the pink mausoleum was built according to the plans, but on a much reduced scale. So if you want to visit Kate Smith’s grave, and you are vacationing in the Adirondacks, head over to St. Agnes church.

    I guess that was a Paul Harvey, “Rest of the Story” kind of moment.

    Like

  10. Patricia says:

    Charlie you wrote: “Well, I don’t know that I would call haters of the song treasonous, but I sure wouldn’t want them on my team if we had serious work to do.”

    Ok I will change that to : More than likely treasonous citizens do not like this song.

    And I forgot to give the title to the “next best song”. It is the Battle Hymn of the Republic. Perfect for this point in the war, uummm, I mean the storm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • charliej373 says:

      I have always loved the Battle Hymn. When I was a teenager we were in a summer class where we were asked our favorite song. That was mine. Everybody, busy naming something by Elton John, Styx or Jimmy Hendrix looked at me like I had a potato growing out of my ear. “What?!” I defiantly asked, “It is – and people will still be singing my favorite a hundred years from now.”

      Like

      • the phoenix says:

        My grandma requested that the Battle Hymn of the Republic be played at the end of her funeral Mass. Certain members of the family protested, with one of them saying, “But people will think you were an old battle axe!”

        Grama replied, “Yes, a battle axe for the Pope!”

        I was glad that she got her way.

        Like

        • Mick says:

          Oh, Phoenix, I would have LOVED your grandmother! I think that I’m going to have to have the Battle Hymn of the Republic played at the end of my funeral now. And if, however many years from now, anybody happens to object with, “But people will think you were an old battle axe,” I will respond with, “I AM an old battle axe!”

          Please, please come to Michigan when Charlie visits. I’d love to meet you. 🙂

          Like

          • charliej373 says:

            I can’t wait to meet you Mick…the old Battle Axe and the old Curmudgeon team up. AS they say in Hollywood remakes, this time it’s personal!

            Like

          • Mick says:

            While I certainly look forward to being an old Battle Axe someday, Charlie. right now I only qualify as the middle-aged variety. 🙂

            All of us Michiganders are really looking forward to meeting you, too.

            Like

      • CrewDog says:

        Don’t you hail from Alabama, Son!!?? You should well know that The Battle Hymn of the Republic is one of them Yankee Songs!! ;-(
        Seriously! The sad truth, as near as I can figure, is …. in the USA the Conservative Christian Pro-Life, Pro-Family and Pro-Constitution/Bill of Rights = Red States. Red States that include the States of the old Confederacy and the Mid West. I can’t help but wonder how the Red/Blue State division will play out in The Storm?

        GOD SAVE ALL HERE!!

        Like

        • charliej373 says:

          My family hails from Alabama. I hail from Illinois – and Lincoln’s Illinois, I might add, not Obama’s. Our slogan on the license plates in Illinois is “Land of Lincoln.”

          Like

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