For seven years, I tried to make sure that the songs we sang in our church were doctrinally sound, God-centered, and appropriate in the context of my pastor’s sermons. So, I avoided using songs for special secular holidays, because most of them were inappropriate for Christian worship services.
It is easy to become distracted and focus attention on someone else or something other than God, especially around national holidays. I have seen churches waste far too much of their time with patriotic music and productions designed to rally allegiance to our country.
On one Memorial Day Sunday, I selected this hymn because it is a reverential prayer that focuses on God.
The first stanza is not about the greatness of our forefathers or even our nation; Our Lord is the subject, and it is about His power, majesty, and greatness as He has revealed Himself in creation. He is worthy of our praise!
The second stanza reminds us that our freedoms and blessings have come by His leading and guiding. The greatness of our nation is a result of godly men who established our nation on God’s Word and His Laws. He is worthy of our obedience!
The third stanza refers to our conflicts, sacrifices, and wars. Our nation is not great because of our military power. It is great because our God is a mighty warrior with a strong arm. Nations rise, and nations fall, but it is God who raises them up and He takes them down. He is worthy of our loyal allegiance.
The Lord commands us, "Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the land which the Lord your God is giving you." (Ex. 20:2
And I think it is appropriate to honor our Christian forefathers who struggled, sacrificed, and even died to protect the blessings and freedoms that God has provided.
And the way to honor them is to love the God they loved. To Honor His law the way they did. To struggle against those who would defy Him. To stand firm on His Word and teach it to our children.
America cannot remain free without the God of the Bible. Alexis de Tocqueville, wrote, “I sought for the greatness and genius of America in her commodious harbors and ample rivers, and it was not there; in the fertile fields, and boundless prairies, and it was not there; in her rich mines and her vast world commerce, and it was not there. Not until I went into the churches of America and heard her pulpits aflame with righteousness, did I understand the secret of her genius and power. America is great because she is good, and if America ever ceases to be good, America will cease to be great.”
I would summarize it like this; America is great because she serves a great God, and if America ever ceases to serve Him, America will cease to be great.
The fourth stanza reminds us that we still need God’s mercy and grace in our time. Proverbs 14:34 says, “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people.”
And Psalm 33:12 says, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.”
Our nation has enjoyed much prosperity and freedom because our forefathers honored the Lord. But He will not continue to bless a nation that disobeys and dishonors Him. He is Worthy of our love and trust!