Pictures and videos taken of The Shot Heard Around the World at the Ontario Rod & Gun Club on January 11, 2014
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“Concord Hymn” by Ralph Waldo Emerson 1837
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.
In October 1834 Emerson went to live with his step-grandfather Ezra Ripley in Concord, at what was later named The Old Manse, less than a hundred paces from the spot where the battle took place. In 1835 he purchased a home on the Cambridge and Concord Turnpike and quickly became one of Concord’s leading citizens. That same year he was asked to give a public lecture commemorating the town’s 200th anniversary.
The “Concord Hymn” was written at the request of the Battle Monument Committee. At Concord’s Independence Day celebration on July 4, 1837 it was first read, then sung as a hymn by a local choir using the then-familiar tune “Old Hundredth”.
The poem elevates the battle above a simple event, setting Concord as the spiritual center of the American nation, and exalting a general spirit of revolution and freedom, a spirit Emerson hoped would outlive those who fought in the battle. One source of the hymn’s power may be Emerson’s personal ties to the subject: his grandfather William Emerson, Sr., witnessed the battle at the North Bridge while living at the Old Manse.