Star Spangled Banner


by Francis Scott Key

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 through 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
O 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 now conceals now 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 O long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

And where is that band who so valiantly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more
Their blood has wiped 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 freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation
Blest with victory and peace may the heaven-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 forever shall wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave

Francis Scott Key (1779 - 1843)

On Sept. 13, 1814, Francis Scott Key visited the British fleet in Chesapeake Bay to secure the release of Dr. William Beanes, who had been captured after the burning of Washington, D.C. The release was secured, but Key was detained on ship overnight during the shelling of Fort McHenry, one of the forts defending Baltimore. In the morning, he was so delighted to see the American flag still flying over the fort that he began a poem to commemorate the occasion. First published under the title “Defense of Fort M'Henry,” the poem soon attained wide popularity as sung to the tune “To Anacreon in Heaven.” The origin of this tune is obscure, but it may have been written by John Stafford Smith, a British composer born in 1750. “The Star-Spangled Banner” was officially made the National Anthem by Congress in 1931, although it already had been adopted as such by the Army and the Navy.

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