"My Country, 'Tis of Thee" also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody used is that of the national anthem of the UK, "God Save the Queen", arranged by Thomas Arne and used by many Commonwealth realms and some other monarchies."
OK, so now we know, but the question I can't find the answer to is why? Why take the national anthem of a nation you gained independence from in the 1700's and in the 1800's write some new lyrics to the same tune and coin it as one of America's patriotic songs? Wouldn't you want to do something completely different? I actually didn't know until searching around that The Star Spangled Banner was only adopted as the USA's National Anthem in 1931.
Another music choice has me puzzled too. Although God Save the Queen (or King, depending on the gender of the ruling monarch,) is the anthem of the UK, the unofficial anthem of England is Land of Hope and Glory. To all English people (and I stress English, not British in this case,) this is instantly recognizable, especially if you've ever watched a rugby game or The Proms and to me, it stands for English national pride. Edward Elgar wrote the music, and the lyrics were penned in 1902 by a gentleman called A.C. Benson.
What puzzles me therefore is that the same music is used during American graduation ceremonies when high school and college students go on stage to accept their certificates. The first time I ever heard this was during an American movie a while ago and I remember being confused as to why Land of Hope and Glory was playing in a US high school.
Two of the USA's most ceremonial and partiotic songs are taken directly from the UK and England? Excuse my flippancy, but Isn't that a little like England deciding to use a song like Tomorrow Belongs to Me from the movie Cabaret as its new patriotic song? I mean, no one would take music from the Nazi regime and elevate it in the UK. Why would the US, who reviled the UK just as much back in the day, not create its own, unique anthems?
And by the way, The Star Spangled Banner rocks, so excellent job there.
If anyone has any further insight on this I'd be fascinated. Thanks Candice for the inspiration!