The Patriotic Heart: "The Star-Spangled Banner"
Ask any American what "The Star-Spangled Banner" is and you might get a patriotic rendition of this song.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the official national anthem of the United States of America. Its famed lyricist, Francis Scott Key (1779–1843), was a lawyer and amateur poet when he wrote it. The poem he wrote was entitled "Defence of Fort M'Henry," and it described how the British Navy bombarded the said fort during the War of Independence. Stories say that the poem was inspired when Key saw the US flag, Star-Spangled Banner (with 15 stripes and stars), dancing in the wind after the US victory. Also, Key write the poem on the back of a letter, scraping to write his feelings at that moment.
If the poem where the song is lifted from is very patriotic, the tune of the hymn is ironically very British. The tune was borrowed from John Stafford Smith (1750–1836) 's "To Anacreon in Heaven." The song was made for the Anacreontic Society of London and was also popular in America's drinking places.
The hymn's journey as the USA's national anthem was not quick. The United States Navy officially adopted the song by 1889. Later on, US President Woodrow Wilson adopted it in 1916. Finally, it was recognized as the official national anthem of the country on March 3, 1931. It was approved by a congressional resolution under President Herbert Hoover.
During the war, it was not the only song used to bolster patriotism to American soldiers. Other contenders include "Hail, Columbia," "My Country, 'Tis of Thee," and "America the Beautiful." "America the Beautiful" is another contender to the US national anthem.
The original poem/hymn was four stanzas with eight lines each. There is also a short version, with three stanzas and four lines, which is also used for normal singing.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is an integral part of America and its citizens. A sharp reminder of the country's independence, this hymn continues to take root and spread the flames of patriotism in its citizens' hearts.