While it's the song that is recited before major political and sporting events, "The Star Spangled Banner" didn't officially become the country's national anthem until 1931. President Herbert Hoover signed the congressional resolution on March 3, 1931. Here's a look at five things you didn't know about the "The Star Spangled Banner."
|Lyrics Come From a Poem|
"The Star Spangled Banner" was written in Baltimore on Sept. 14, 1814 as "Defense of Fort McHenry" by lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key. It was to celebrate the victory against the British in the battle of Fort McHenry in the war of 1812.
|Melody Set to Old English Tune|
The song is set to "To Anacreon in Heaven" – a song written by John Stafford Smith. The song was for the London men's social club, the Anacreontic Society. The club was named after Anacreon, a Greek court poet.
The Navy and Army used "The Star Spangled Banner" for ceremonial purposes by the 1900s, according to the Smithsonian. The Secretary of the Navy instructed the song to be played at the raising of the flag on July 26, 1889.
|More than One Verse|
While even the best singer has trouble getting through the anthem, "The Star Spangled Banner" is actually comprised of a total of four verses – each ending with the line, "O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave."
Here's the complete version:
The Star-Spangled Banner
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?
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!
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.
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.
|Song Difficult for Even Trained Singer|
Superstars from Christina Aguilera to Michael Bolton have had trouble with the song. The song is difficult because it calls for an enormous vocal range, including the ability to sing a vowel on the highest note of the piece -- on "free" -- which physically strains the throat.