Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “Concord Hymn” in 1836 for the dedication of the Obelisk, a battle monument in Concord, Massachusetts that commemorates the men that gave their lives at the Battle of Concord fought on April 19, 1775. It was the first battle of the American Revolution. Emerson’s poem became the most-remembered aspect of the dedication of the monument; it was widely republished in newspaper accounts of the day. Written at the request of the Battle Monument Committee, it was also part of Concord’s Independence Day celebration on July 4, 1837, the poem was read first – then sung as a hymn by a local choir using the then-familiar tune “Old Hundredth.”
By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled,
Here once the embattled farmers stood,
And fired the shot heard round the world.
The foe long since in silence slept;
Alike the conqueror silent sleeps;
And Time the ruined bridge has swept
Down the dark stream which seaward creeps.
On this green bank, by this soft stream,
We set to-day a votive stone;
That memory may their deed redeem,
When, like our sires, our sons are gone.
Spirit, that made those spirits dare,
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.