An altered version of Lee Greenwood’s “God Bless the USA” that was sung last Sunday at First United Methodist Church in Burlington, Vermont, is drawing praise and criticism on social media.
The Greenwood song, originally released in 1984, gained renewed popularity during the Gulf War in 1991 and after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. It is sung in some churches, especially around the Fourth of July.
But on Sunday morning in Burlington, First United Methodist’s minister of music and media, Adam Hall, said he was “inspired by a power greater than myself, so I scrapped the anthem I had planned and created this new version.”
The result is “God Forgive The USA.”
“It takes the original song’s bravado and bluster and turns it into humility and reflection,” he said, “but not in a disrespectful way, I hope.”
After the church service, several members of the congregation asked Hall for a copy of the lyrics, he said, so he posted the video on YouTube and Facebook. “We don’t often post anthems individually, although our weekly services are posted online in their entirely quite regularly,” he said.
Hall acknowledged that the response to the video was quite mixed. “Some are very offended by the song, and others feel it expresses how they are feeling today,” he said.
One Facebook comment said: “No wonder the relevancy of the church is diminishing. This is disgusting.”
Another said, “This is GREAT and we need more of it. Stand up for what we really believe!”
“What I hope people take away from the song is our need for corporate confession and forgiveness, but also the deep love and respect for our country that is also expressed.”
Check out the video above to hear Hall sing the anthem and see the lyrics in the subtitles.