Wednesday, June 30, 2010

America's Forgotten Stanza

In the aftermath of September 11, 2001, as our military men and women fight in distant lands to protect our freedom and way of life,  we need to be reminded of the neglected fourth stanza of the national anthem of the United States. Often printed as the second stanza in songbooks and hymnals, it reads:

Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war’s desolation;
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Pow’r that hath made and preserved us a nation!

Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just;
And this be our motto: “In God is our trust!”
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O’re the land of the free and the home of the brave!

This powerful yet forgotten stanza reminds us that freedom is not free. It is always purchased and preserved at great cost. Until our Lord Jesus returns to set up His reign on earth, there will always be tyrants and oppressors who have an implacable desire to dominate others. It matters little whether their motive is religious, economic, or political; they will not rest until they have brought down freedom or been brought down themselves. That fourth stanza of our national anthem exhorts us to stand in the gap “between [our] loved homes and the war’s desolation.”

Our national anthem, our national motto, and our Pledge of Allegiance all pay homage to the one God Who “hath made and preserved us a nation.” Singing that neglected stanza might just rekindle our appreciation for all God has given us and strengthen our determination to protect it.