THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
I'm fairly confident most Americans know it was Francis Scott
Key who penned the words that later became our country's
national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".
But did you know Francis was also a Georgetown attorney,
Bible teacher, and evangelical Christian? He once told a
friend in Congress, "Christ alone can save you from the
sentence of condemnation."
Francis wrote other hymns besides the anthem, but it was the
writing of this great song that secured a place for his name
in American history.
For those not familiar with the story, here are some highlights.
The year was 1814 and America was under ferocious attack by
the British. For 25 hours the British bombarded Fort McHenry,
taking hostage one prominent physician, a Dr. Beans.
Francis Scott Key was asked by the President to attempt a
negotiation for the doctor's release. Francis, too, was taken captive
and forced to watch a devastating attack on the eastern seaboard.
During the rainy night, Francis wondered what the outcome would
be. Would America withstand the onslaught of the enemy? In the
dawn of morning, September 14, he wondered if "Old Glory" would
still be flying.
With these questions in his mind, Francis placed a telescope to his
eye and searched for the flagpole. To his delight, Francis saw the flag
waving in the early morning breeze.
Elated to see that Fort McHenry had withstood the brutal attack of the
invaders, Francis was filled with divine inspiration. He pulled a letter
from his pocket, and hastily scribbled some words on the envelope,
and put it back in his pocket.
The British released Francis later that day. Back in Baltimore he
finished the hymn by writing the words out on paper. He then
showed it to his brother-in-law who promptly took it to a print
shop where several copies were printed. The handbills were then
distributed freely on the streets.
One copy made its way into the hands of a musician, commonly
thought to be John Stafford Smith. The words were adapted to
the tune "To Anacreon in Heaven." Our great national anthem
It is likely we would not know the name, "Francis Scott Key",
had he not been taken captive by the British and made to watch
many of his countrymen be slaughtered.
Had he not shown the words to his brother-in-law, who carried
them to the printer, and then to the streets of Baltimore...
perhaps there would be no anthem to sing before our ball games
and all the many places we sing it in this current age.
Within the story of how "The Star-Spangled Banner" came to be,
we can see divine providence and teamwork join hands...something
worth pausing to think about next time you hear it.
Did you know there are four verses to the song? While it is the
first verse we are familiar with, I would like to share the last verse
with you today.
"O thus be it ever when free-men shall stand between their lov'd
home and the wars 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 in triumph shall wave o'er the land of the
free and the home of the brave."
In 1931, one hundred and seventeen years later, Congress
officially made "The Star-Spangled Banner" our national anthem.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this tidbit of history. I thank
God we are still "the land of the free and the home of the brave".
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