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The United States National Anthem

The Star-Spangled Banner

Written by Francis Scott Key on September 14th,1814

Music attributed to John Stafford Smith


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The Star-Spangled Banner was born out of the emotions experienced by Francis Scott Key as he watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. Key's poem, "Defense of Fort McHenry," came to be sung to the tune of a pre-existing song, "To Anacreon in Heaven," the melody of which is attributed to Englishman John Stafford Smith. The first musical edition was published by Benjamin Carr of Baltimore and titled "The Star-Spangled Banner." With the passage of time the song grew in popularity, and in 1931 an act of Congress made it our official national anthem. (Source: United States Embassy in Stockholm website)

Usually, only the first and last verses are sung.

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, thro' the perilous fight'
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming.
And the rockets' 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, thro' 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 on 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 wash'd out their foul footstep's 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 free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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.

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