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A free hymn for Memorial Day

Daniel Heath offers alternative verses to the "Star Spangled Banner" using language inspired by Amanda Gorman's poetry.

Did you know the complete version of the Star-Spangled Banner has four verses? Yet, we usually only sing the first verse. The other three verses further explore the complex time in America’s history that inspired Francis Scott Key to write this national treasure in 1814.

I love thoughtful lyrics coupled with timeless melodies, and I love holding old treasures in new containers. This prayer is a new container for an old treasure, a sung prayer using the melody of the “Star Spangled Banner.” I offer alternative verses for the United States National Anthem inspired by the poem “The Hill We Climb” by Amanda Gorman which is hopeful, inspiring, and offers a new way of looking at old things.

Help us hold up our light
Lamp stands filled with peace, hope
Removing all of darkness, breaking shade never ending
Help us never to hold
Light for fame, fortune
Not attention or gain, not for harm or ill willing
Every flame is a star shining bright near and far
The source of all life, igniting hope, love, and peace
Oh Sparkling and shimm’ring light to the paths untold
Setting sights above, warming hearts with love

Light to all harm to none
Roaring protests and prayers
Clean water and food, education and healthcare
All the living include
Planets, trees, stars, and seas
Roaring mammals and birds, fish and reptiles, amphibians
“We will grieve as we grow, even hurt as we hope”
But light will heal, renew and not kill
Not broken, unfinished, just keep your gaze up high
Gleaming all around, love and light ever found

All cultures and signs
Colors and conditions
There is light in all kinds if we’re brave we can see it
We rebuild, reconcile
We recover, repair
Merging mercy and might if we’re brave we can be it
Twinkling wide and beneath, light so bright it can reach
Don’t hide your light, the world needs your glow
Beauty in difference we were all made to shine
Guiding hearts and minds on the hills we climb


For sheet music: Memorial Day Prayer