THE “CONCORD HYMN,”
50. Ralph Waldo Emerson. “On the Completion of
the Monument at Concord … ” [“Concord Hymn”], page  in The Boston
Book. Being Specimens of Metropolitan Literature (Boston:
Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1850). Letterpress on paper; bound in
brown cloth. Myerson G16.
Ruth Haskins Emerson wrote to her son William—Ralph Waldo’s older brother—on June 27, 1837: “The 4th of July, the good citizens of Concord talk of celebrating by having a little parade on account of the erection of the Monument—The Hon. S. Hoar is to give an address on the occasion[,] Dr. Ripley, a prayer, & Waldo, has written a hymn, to be sung to the tune of old hundred—when it is printed will send you a copy.” Emerson, in Plymouth on July 4th, did not hear his hymn sung at the dedication of Concord’s monument commemorating the battle at the North Bridge on April 19, 1775.
What is now known as the “Concord Hymn”—today perhaps Emerson’s best-known piece of poetry—was first printed for distribution at the dedication of the Battle Monument (Myerson A4.1). The text of later printings, including the version shown here (collected in The Boston Book for 1850), varies somewhat from the original.
In 1875, the first verse of the “Concord Hymn” was carved into the granite base of Daniel Chester French’s Minute Man statue, erected on the opposite bank of the Concord River from the Battle Monument for the town’s centennial celebration of the Concord Fight.
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