Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Few people know that there is more to our National Anthem than the familiar (to some) first stanza.

For years, as a church music director, I had the congregations I led sing the first and last stanzas on the 4th of July.

The young America was at war in 1812 when Francis Scott Key penned the words to the song. Its words mean so much more than we often realize.

Those who don't know its history proclaim that it is "just a war song."

Such abject ignorance!

They also think the words, "In God We Trust," were somehow made up during the Eisenhower administration and added to our Pledge of Allegiance at that time.

The concept of trusting in God is an idea that has been with us since the very beginning.

No, "The Star Spangled Banner" is a song whose words accurately reflect the beliefs and attitudes of those who, by the rules of war and numbers, should have been annihilated that night.
Here are the lyrics in their entirety:

Oh, say can you see by the dawn's early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Here's a brief history of the night:


Z said...

fabulous, Joe...those additional verses are astonishing, aren't they.
Thanks for the post!

Joe said...

Z: Yep. I wish we would teach the whole thing to kids growing up. Might make them think about our Christian roots.

BetteJo said...

Watch this - happened at a tea party ..


Joe said...

BetteJo: I saw that! It was stirring!!