O beautiful for spacious skies

O beautiful for spacious skies (‘America the beautiful’). Katharine L. Bates* (1859-1929). The circumstances of the composition of this hymn were set out by Bates in an article in the Boston Athenaeum (1918). It was written in 1892 after a group of academics, teaching summer school at Colorado Springs, Colorado, celebrated the end of the course by a visit to Pikes Peak. The stay on the top was very short – ‘hardly more than one ecstatic gaze’ - because two of the party were feeling ill at the high altitude, but it was enough to inspire the four stanzas that were written in Bates’s notebook. She published them in The Congregationalist, appropriately on 4 July (1895), in a text beginning ‘O...

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