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The three-fourths of America’s national anthem

that nobody knows…

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The (brief) history of “The Defense of Ft. M’Henry” and “Anacreon in Heaven”

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For that and more you need to use the DOOR.

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   [MORE]

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   Some songs have unusual histories. Our national anthem is no exception. The three 8-line verses of that follow the one that begins “O say can you see…” may sound odd. That’s because today…especially today…our interests are overwhelmingly driven by what’s just happened. And, so it probably seems clear that this post was written right after the 4th of July.

   It was.

   We take all this from dictionary.com. (We adapt and modify a bit, however.)

   Do you know all the words to “The Star-Spangled Banner”?  Did you know that there are three additional verses that we almost never hear?

How Did it become the US National Anthem?

   In 1814, the poet and lyricist Francis Scott Key penned the lyrics to “The Star-Spangled Banner,” originally known as “Defense of Fort M’Henry.” During the War of 1812, Key witnessed the attacks on Baltimore and wrote the words based on his experiences this night. These lyrics were printed in local newspapers and set to the tune of an existing song called “Anacreon in Heaven,” and then officially arranged by John Philip Sousa. Key’s famous lyrics entered the world as a broadside ballad, or a song written on a topical subject, and printed for wide distribution.

   More than a century later, in 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed an executive order designating “The Star-Spangled Banner” as the national anthem, and in 1931, the US Congress confirmed the decision. The tune has kicked off ceremonies of national importance and athletic events ever since.

The Forgotten Verses

   While the first verse of “The Star-Spangled Banner” is widely known by the American public, the last three verses are generally omitted in performances. Here are all the four verses, as they were written 200 years ago by Key:

               (1)

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d 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,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

                             (2)

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—O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

                    (3)

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.

                    (4)

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d 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.