Born: Oc­to­ber 21, 1808, Bos­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts.

Died: November 16, 1895, Bos­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts.

Buried: New­ton Cem­e­te­ry, New­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts.

Smith at­tend­ed Har­vard Un­i­ver­si­ty and An­do­ver The­o­log­ic­al Sem­in­ary. He en­tered the Bap­tist min­is­try in 1832, and the same year be­came ed­it­or of Bap­tist Mis­sion­ary Mag­a­zine. He al­so con­trib­ut­ed to the En­cy­clo­pe­dia Amer­i­cana. From 1834 to 1842, he pas­tored at Wa­ter­ville, Maine, and was Pro­fess­or of Mod­ern Lan­guag­es at Wa­ter­ville Coll­ege. In 1842, he moved to New­ton, Mass­a­chu­setts, where he stayed un­til 1854, when he be­came ed­it­or of the pub­li­ca­tions of the Bap­tist Mis­sion­ary Un­ion.

The sec­u­lar world best re­mem­bers Smith as the au­thor of My Count­ry ’Tis of Thee. He and Oliver Wendell Holmes were class­mates at Har­vard, and for the 1829 class re­un­ion, Holmes wrote:

There’s a nice youngster of excellent pith,
Fate tried to conceal him by naming him Smith;
But he shouted a song for the brave and the free,
Just read on his medal, “My country,” “of thee.”

On Smith’s 80th birthday, Holmes sent him the following:

Full ma­ny a po­et’s labored lines
A century’s creeping waves shall hide—
The verse a people’s love enshrines
Stands like a rock that breasts the tide.

Time wrecks the proudest piles we raise,
The towers, the domes, the temples fall.
The fortress crumbles and decays—
One breath of song outlasts them all.

Smith’s other works in­clude:



  1. As Flows the Rapid River
  2. Down to the Sac­red Wave
  3. Founded on Thee
  4. Go, Heralds of Salva­tion, Forth
  5. Lord of Our Life, God Whom We Fear
  6. Morning Light Is Breaking, The
  7. My Country ’Tis of Thee
  8. Softly Fades the Twilight Ray
  9. Spirit of Holiness, Descend
  10. Today the Savior Calls
  11. Welcome, Days of Solemn Meeting