Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
Hail Columbia
By Joseph Hopkinson (1770–1842)

Tune—“President’s March”

          The Origin of “Hail Columbia.”—In the year 1798, when patriotic feeling pervaded the country, and when there were several parties in the field, Mr. Fox, a young player who was more admired for his vocal than histrionic powers, called one morning upon his friend, Mr. Hopkinson, and after stating that the following evening had been appointed for his benefit, and expressing great fear for the result, as not a single box had been taken, begged his friend to do something in his behalf. “If,” said Fox, “you will write me some patriotic verses to the tune of the ‘President’s March,’ I feel sure of a full house. Several of the people about the theatre have attempted it, but they have come to the conclusion that it cannot be done: yet I think you may succeed.” Mr. Hopkinson retired to his study, and in a short time wrote the first verse and chorus, which were submitted to Mrs. Hopkinson, who sang them to a piano accompaniment, and proved the measure and music to be compatible and in keeping. In this way the second and other verses were written, and when Mr. Fox returned in the evening, he received with delight the song as it now stands. The following morning small hand-bills announced that Mr. Fox would sing a new patriotic song, &c. The theatre was crowded; the song was sung and received with rapture; it was repeated eight times, and again encored, and when sung the ninth time, the whole audience stood up and joined in the chorus. Night after night, “Hail Columbia” cheered the visiters of the theatre, and in a very few days it was the universal song of the boys in the streets, from one end of the city to the other. Nor was the distinguished author of this truly national song—a song which met the entire approbation of all parties of the day—forgotten. The street in which he resided on one occasion was crowded, and “Hail Columbia” broke on the stillness of midnight from five hundred patriotic voices.

HAIL, Columbia! happy land!
Hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band!
  Who fought and bled in Freedom’s cause,
  Who fought and bled in Freedom’s cause,
And when the storm of war was gone,        5
Enjoy’d the peace your valour won.
  Let independence be our boast,
  Ever mindful what it cost;
  Ever grateful for the prize,
  Let its altar reach the skies.        10
        Firm—united—let us be,
        Rallying round our Liberty;
        As a band of brothers join’d,
        Peace and safety we shall find.
Immortal patriots! rise once more;        15
Defend your rights, defend your shore;
  Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
  Let no rude foe, with impious hand,
Invade the shrine where sacred lies
Of toil and blood the well-earn’d prize.        20
  While offering peace sincere and just,
  In Heaven we place a manly trust,
  That truth and justice will prevail,
  And every scheme of bondage fail.
        Firm—united, &c.
Sound, sound, the trump of Fame!        25
Let WASHINGTON’S great name
  Ring through the world with loud applause,
  Ring through the world with loud applause:
Let every clime to Freedom dear,
Listen with a joyful ear.        30
  With equal skill, and godlike power,
  He govern’d in the fearful hour
  Of horrid war; or guides, with ease,
  The happier times of honest peace.
        Firm—united, &c.
Behold the chief who now commands,        35
Once more to serve his country, stands—
  The rock on which the storm will beat:
  The rock on which the storm will beat,
But, arm’d in virtue firm and true,
His hopes are fix’d on Heaven and you.        40
  When hope was sinking in dismay,
  And glooms obscured Columbia’s day,
  His steady mind, from changes free,
  Resolved on death or liberty.
        Firm—united, &c.

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