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Sweet Freedom’s Song: “My Country 'Tis of Thee” and Democracy in America, by Robert Branham and Stephen Hartnett (2002)

Branham and Hartnett trace the song from its colonial roots through its multiple reformulations as an anthem for reformers and revolutionaries. The song’s adoption by 19th-century reformers receives the most interesting treatment. The book is written by academics, but it is highly readable and will appeal to general readers.

Lowell Mason: His Life and Work, by Carol Pemberton (1985)

Samuel Francis Smith wrote “My Country tis of Thee” after music educator Lowell Mason asked him to translate some German songs. Mason’s larger efforts to elevate American music are explored in this biography.

Yankee Musician in Europe: The 1837 Journals of Lowell Mason, by Michael Broyles, ed., (2010)

In 1837, American music educator Lowell Mason toured Europe and recorded his ideas about music in this journal. These ideas shaped his efforts to improve American music and save it from the “vulgar” influences of frontier revivals and untrained composers. This book is not directly about “My Country tis of Thee” or Samuel Francis Smith, but if you are interested in the larger back-story and you like primary sources, you will enjoy this.

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