It’s the Fourth of July again folks! Today marks the 242nd Independence our forefathers fought for, building and forming this great nation. What better way to celebrate Independence Day than to start with the obvious? “The Star-Spangled Banner” is the national anthem of United States of America. From the title alone, it bears the flag that towers and waves in a nation where the free and the brave are born. We sing and hear this in schools, offices, and all over America. As citizens and patriots of our country, we honor and sing in our hearts the anthem that makes us feel that we are proud to be called AMERICANS!
“Independence Day, also known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the USA that celebrates the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776. On this date, the Continental Congress declared the thirteen American colonies were a new nation called the United States of America. This meant the colonies were no longer part of the British Empire.” (EXPRESS.co.uk)
“The Star-Spangled Banner”: Our National Anthem
“It’s a song every American has heard countless times – and can probably recite by heart.” — CNN
The anthem roots back in the 19th century as a poem written by a patriot. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was based on the poem “Defence of Fort M’Henry” penned on September 14, 1814, by lawyer and poet Francis Scott Key. He found his inspiration writing the poem after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in Baltimore Harbor. This event took place during the Battle of Baltimore in the War of 1812.
In 1812, the U.S. flag only had 15 stars and 15 stripes within it yet. Known as the Star-Spangled Banner, the flag gave Key his inspiration to craft a masterpiece that would later be the nation’s anthem.
The music of anthem, however, existed way before the lyrics were written. It was created around 1773 by a British composer and musicologist, John Stafford Smith. Key’s poem was then set to the tune that Smith made for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. It was entitled “To Anacreon in Heaven” (or “The Anacreontic Song”), which was already a popular British song in the United States.
After more than 30 years, Smith’s music was used and set to Key’s poem. The poem became its lyrics and the song was later renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner“, a song that would become the country’s patriotic song for over two centuries.
Adoption of the Anthem
In 1889, the United States Navy recognized “The Star-Spangled Banner” as their official song. Meanwhile, U.S. President Woodrow Wilson also recognized and used it in 1916 as the nation’s patriotic song. It was then officially made the national anthem by President Herbert Hoover through a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931.
Before “The Star-Spangled Banner” came in as the U.S. anthem, there were several songs that served as a hymn of the U.S. officialdom. The following hymns were used before 1913: “Hail, Columbia“, which was used for most of the 19th century; and “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, which takes its identity from “God Save the Queen“, the United Kingdom’s national anthem. As a matter of fact, the latter served as a de facto national anthem.
LISTEN AND SING: “The Star-Spangled Banner,” the United States of America’s national anthem.
HAVE A HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY, folks!
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Francis Scott Key, STAR-SPANGLED BANNER