Ralph Waldo Emerson, one of America's most celebrated poets and philosophers, was born to a Boston Brahmin family on May 25, 1803, just 28 years after the clashes in Lexington and Concord. His Concord roots extended back to 1636, when his ancestor Peter Bulkeley founded the town.
Emerson was living in Concord in 1837, when he drafted new words to the tune of a well-known Protestant hymn, "Old Hundredth." Emerson's poem, first sung at the dedication of a battle monument during Concord's Fourth of July festivities, was an instant classic. It honored the revloutionary patriots; was recited by generations of American schoolchildren; and coined one of U.S. history's most memorable phrases to describe the American revolution in democracy.
The Concord Hymn
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 heroes dare
To die, and leave their children free,
Bid Time and Nature gently spare
The shaft we raise to them and thee.