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The lyrics were written sometime in the 1890's by a Wellesley College English professor named Katharine Lee Bates, who wrote it as a poem. In 1926, the poem was combined with the music of a hymn written by Samuel Ward called "Materna" for a contest by the National Federation of Music Clubs.
A lot of artists have recorded this, including Frank Sinatra and Elvis Presley, but Charles' version is the most famous.
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