Monday, July 4, 2011

The Hymn Project: #340 The Star-Spangled Banner

What better way to honor the day than with a patriotic hymn and anthem?

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.
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 thru 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?  
How it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on 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!

Oh, thus be it ever, when free men shall stand 
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r 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 don't know about you, but growing up, I knew the words to this anthem, but I didn't really comprehend the meaning. It was just a bunch of words.  But you take it out of the music, and you can see there's a story in that first verse!  This wasn't written during the War for Independence, either. It was written during the War of 1812.  The American Patriotic Spirit had had time to soak in to every person who lived there; the flag meant something to them. They loved their country.  So to see it still waving over the fort in that early morning probably moved many people to tears, as this song still does today.

I have to say I also did not know the other 2 verses, and does that make me sad! They are so powerful and beautiful.  My favorite phrase I think, is in the 3rd verse: "Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just." Yup. No elaboration necessary, I think. (If you want some, tell me in a comment, and I will.)

So while you're having your party or picnic, salute that star-spangled banner, sing this song, and remember why we celebrate today, and think about how you would respond to a call to defend it once more.

Happy Independence Day!

And happy hymning!

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