Saturday, July 4, 2009

"The Star-Spangled Banner" Marika Lee's Hymn & Scripture Study Sundays

A patriotic theme is in order today! This week’s song is “The Star-Spangled Banner”. Click here for music.

Scriptures for this song: "Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!"
1 Nephi 13:17-19

Alma 46:12-15

Various facts:
Text by Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)
Music by John Stafford Smith (1750-1836)

The story behind the song:
I love this story! I have read it in many different forms over the year, so I shall share my condensed version here.

This story begins in the home that Francis Scott Key grew up in. He was taught the importance of patriotism at an early age by his mother and grandmother. At the age of 12 he had the opportunity to hear George Washington speak and was deeply impressed. He remained an active patriot into his adult life. He wrote poems and spoke with others about his passion for America.

During the war, he noticed that he had not heard from his friend Dr. Beanes for quite some time. Key was concerned that he had been captured by the British. He inquired about and found that he was being kept on board a British ship. He felt compelled to see what he could do to gain his friend's release.

Before going to the ship, he procured information from English soldiers who had been treated kindly and fairly by Dr. Beanes. Then, raising a white flag, Key was able to speak with the captain of the British ship. The captain could see Key was sincere and speaking the truth and planned to release Dr. Beanes. However, since Key & Beanes "knew too much", they would not be allowed to leave until after the attack on Fort McHenry.

Mary Pickersgill had been commissioned to sew an enormous flag that would be able to be seen by all, both the English & the Americans alike. Francis Scott Key could see the flag flying from where he was upon the water. As darkness closed in, he agonized as he waited and watched throughout the night. Occasionally the bursting bombs illuminated the flag, but through the dark of the night, it was difficult to see the progress of the battle. If the flag still stood in the morning, that would mean that the British were unsuccessful in their attempt to capture Fort McHenry and possibly win the war.

The pre-dawn hours carried much suspense. As the first rays of light started shining through, Key was utterly amazed and thrilled by the sight he saw. The flag was still there! Fort McHenry was still in American hands!

Nearly overwhelmed by his feelings, Key penned his thoughts on the back of an old letter he found in his pocket. The words he wrote truly share the story of what he went through that night. Back on shore later on, he finished up his words. A friend copied his poem and distributed them about. The poem spread like junk email, (well, as much as it could do so without modern technology).

Francis Scott Key's words became a dignified, moving, patriotic anthem. In 1931 it was finally recognized as the official national anthem of the U.S.A. Through this song, Francis Scott Key's name will forever be linked with the words true patriot.

Here are the complete lyrics as written by Key. Traditionally we only sing verses 1, 2, and 4. Read through the lyrics and feel what it must have been like for Francis Scott Key on that night.

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!

I am doing a little research online to find these things out. I also have a book entitled "Our Latter-day Hymns The Stories and the Messages" by Karen Lynn Davidson from which I am finding information on these songs. If you want more info, the aforementioned book and the Internet search engines can get you much more than the little bit I shared.

1 comment:

JUST ME, THE MOM said...

Thank you for sharing that amazing story, so glad I happened along. I'd heard a little bit about the background before - but now will have to share the story with my family.

Great post! Happy July to you!