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“My Country ’tis of Thee, Sweet land of liberty …” This patriotic hymn was written by Samuel Francis Smith, who died this day, Nov. 16, 1895. A classmate at Harvard with the poet Oliver Wendell Holmes, he became a Baptist minister and professor. While in seminary, Samuel heard the national anthems for England, Sweden and Russia. He sat down and within a half-hour wrote “My Country ’tis of Thee.” The fourth verse reads: “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.”

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