The Star-Spangled Banner
Overview
 
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 of the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay...

 by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith was a British composer, church organist, and early musicologist. He was one of the first serious collectors of manuscripts of works by Johann Sebastian Bach....

 for the Anacreontic Society
Anacreontic Society
The Anacreontic Society was a popular gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London founded in the mid-18th century. These barristers, doctors, and other professional men named their club after the Greek court poet Anacreon, who lived in the 6th century B.C. and whose poems, "anacreontics", were...

, a men's social club in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

.
Encyclopedia
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem
National anthem
A national anthem is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people.- History :Anthems rose to prominence...

 of the United States of America
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key
Francis Scott Key was an American lawyer, author, and amateur poet, from Georgetown, who wrote the lyrics to the United States' national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner".-Life:...

, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry
Fort McHenry, in Baltimore, Maryland, is a star-shaped fort best known for its role in the War of 1812, when it successfully defended Baltimore Harbor from an attack by the British navy in Chesapeake Bay...

 by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay
Chesapeake Bay
The Chesapeake Bay is the largest estuary in the United States. It lies off the Atlantic Ocean, surrounded by Maryland and Virginia. The Chesapeake Bay's drainage basin covers in the District of Columbia and parts of six states: New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, and West...

 during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812
War of 1812
The War of 1812 was a military conflict fought between the forces of the United States of America and those of the British Empire. The Americans declared war in 1812 for several reasons, including trade restrictions because of Britain's ongoing war with France, impressment of American merchant...

.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith was a British composer, church organist, and early musicologist. He was one of the first serious collectors of manuscripts of works by Johann Sebastian Bach....

 for the Anacreontic Society
Anacreontic Society
The Anacreontic Society was a popular gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London founded in the mid-18th century. These barristers, doctors, and other professional men named their club after the Greek court poet Anacreon, who lived in the 6th century B.C. and whose poems, "anacreontics", were...

, a men's social club in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. "The Anacreontic Song" (or "To Anacreon in Heaven
To Anacreon in Heaven
"The Anacreontic Song", also known by its incipit "To Anacreon in Heaven", was the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London. Attributed to the composer John Stafford Smith, the tune was later used by several writers as a setting for...

"), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanza
Stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

s, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth ("O! thus be it ever when free men shall stand...") added on more formal occasions. The fourth stanza includes the line "And this be our motto: In God is our Trust.". The United States adopted "In God We Trust
In God We Trust
"In God We Trust" was adopted as the official motto of the United States in 1956. It is also the motto of the U.S. state of Florida. The Legality of this motto has been questioned because of the United States Constitution forbidding the government to make any law respecting the establishment of a...

" as its national motto in 1956.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 in 1889 and the President
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

 in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional
United States Congress
The United States Congress is the bicameral legislature of the federal government of the United States, consisting of the Senate and the House of Representatives. The Congress meets in the United States Capitol in Washington, D.C....

 resolution
Resolution (law)
A resolution is a written motion adopted by a deliberative body. The substance of the resolution can be anything that can normally be proposed as a motion. For long or important motions, though, it is often better to have them written out so that discussion is easier or so that it can be...

 on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at ), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. "Hail, Columbia
Hail, Columbia
"Hail, Columbia" is an American patriotic song. It was considered, with several other songs, one of the unofficial national anthems of the United States until 1931, when "The Star-Spangled Banner" was officially named the national anthem...

" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee
My Country, 'Tis of Thee
"My Country, 'Tis of Thee", also known as "America", is an American patriotic song, whose lyrics were written by Samuel Francis Smith. The melody derived from Muzio Clementi's Symphony No. 3, and is shared with "God Save the Queen," used by many members of the Commonwealth of Nations...

", whose melody is identical to the British national anthem
God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen" is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, with "King" replacing "Queen", "he" replacing "she", and so forth, when a king reigns...

, also served as a de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

anthem before the adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner." Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them "The Star-Spangled Banner."

Early history of the lyrics

On September 3, 1814, following the Burning of Washington
Burning of Washington
The Burning of Washington was an armed conflict during the War of 1812 between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland and the United States of America. On August 24, 1814, led by General Robert Ross, a British force occupied Washington, D.C. and set fire to many public buildings following...

 and the Raid on Alexandria
Raid on Alexandria
The Raid on Alexandria was a British victory during the War of 1812, which gained much plunder at little cost but may have contributed to the later British repulse at Baltimore by imposing delay on their main forces.-Background:...

, Francis Scott Key and John Stuart Skinner
John Stuart Skinner
John Stuart Skinner was an American lawyer, publisher, and editor.- Biography :Skinner began practicing law as an attorney at the age of twenty-one in 1809. On March 10, 1812, he married Elizabeth G. Davies, the step-daughter of Theodorick Bland...

 set sail from Baltimore aboard the ship HMS Minden
HMS Minden
HMS Minden was a Royal Navy 74-gun Ganges-class third-rate ship of the line, launched on 19 June 1810. She was named after the German town Minden and the Battle of Minden of 1759, a decisive victory of British and Prussian forces over France in the Seven Years' War...

, flying a flag of truce
White flag
White flags have had different meanings throughout history and depending on the locale.-Flag of temporary truce in order to parley :...

 on a mission approved by President James Madison
James Madison
James Madison, Jr. was an American statesman and political theorist. He was the fourth President of the United States and is hailed as the “Father of the Constitution” for being the primary author of the United States Constitution and at first an opponent of, and then a key author of the United...

. Their objective was to secure the exchange of prisoners, one of whom was Dr. William Beanes
William Beanes
William Beanes was a medical doctor in the American Colonial Period.-Early life:Beanes was the third generation of the same name and the fourth generation American. He was born near Croome in Prince George's County, Maryland. Little is known of his childhood except that he is of Scottish descent...

, the elderly and popular town physician of Upper Marlboro
Greater Upper Marlboro, Maryland
Greater Upper Marlboro is a census-designated place in Prince George's County, Maryland, United States that completely surrounds Upper Marlboro, the county seat...

 and a friend of Key’s who had been captured in his home. Beanes was accused of aiding the arrest of British soldiers. Key and Skinner boarded the British flagship
Flagship
A flagship is a vessel used by the commanding officer of a group of naval ships, reflecting the custom of its commander, characteristically a flag officer, flying a distinguishing flag...

 HMS Tonnant on September 7 and spoke with Major General Robert Ross
Robert Ross (general)
Robert Ross was an Anglo-Irish British Army officer who participated in the Napoleonic Wars and the War of 1812. He is most well known for the Burning of Washington, including the White House.-Early life:...

 and Vice Admiral Alexander Cochrane
Alexander Cochrane
Admiral Sir Alexander Forrester Inglis Cochrane GCB RN was a senior Royal Navy commander during the Napoleonic Wars.-Naval career:...

 over dinner while the two officers discussed war plans. At first, Ross and Cochrane refused to release Beanes, but relented after Key and Skinner showed them, letters written by wounded British prisoners praising Beanes and other Americans for their kind treatment.

Because Key and Skinner had heard details of the plans for the attack on Baltimore
Battle of Baltimore
The Battle of Baltimore was a combined sea/land battle fought between British and American forces in the War of 1812. It was one of the turning points of the war as American forces repulsed sea and land invasions of the busy port city of Baltimore, Maryland, and killed the commander of the invading...

, they were held captive until after the battle, first aboard HMS Surprise
HMS Surprise (1812)
HMS Surprise was a 38-gun frigate of the Leda class of the Royal Navy, although all these fifth-rate frigates were re-classed as 46-gun under the general re-rating of February 1817, from when carronades on the quarter deck and forecastle were included in the rating...

 and later back on HMS Minden. After the bombardment, certain British gunboats attempted to slip past the fort and effect a landing in a cove to the west of it, but they were turned away by fire from nearby Fort Covington, the city's last line of defense.

During the rainy night, Key had witnessed the bombardment and observed that the fort’s smaller "storm flag" continued to fly, but once the shell and Congreve rocket
Congreve rocket
The Congreve Rocket was a British military weapon designed and developed by Sir William Congreve in 1804.The rocket was developed by the British Royal Arsenal following the experiences of the Second, Third and Fourth Mysore Wars. The wars fought between the British East India Company and the...

 barrage had stopped, he would not know how the battle had turned out until dawn. By then, the storm flag had been lowered and the larger flag had been raised.

During the bombardment, provided the "rockets' red glare". HMS Meteor provided at least some of the "bombs bursting in air".

Key was inspired by the American victory and the sight of the large American flag
Flag of the United States
The national flag of the United States of America consists of thirteen equal horizontal stripes of red alternating with white, with a blue rectangle in the canton bearing fifty small, white, five-pointed stars arranged in nine offset horizontal rows of six stars alternating with rows...

 flying triumphantly above the fort. This flag, with fifteen stars and fifteen stripes, came to be known as the Star Spangled Banner Flag
Star Spangled Banner Flag
The Star-Spangled Banner Flag or the Great Garrison Flag was the garrison flag that flew over Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor during the naval portion of the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812...

 and is today on display in the National Museum of American History
National Museum of American History
The National Museum of American History: Kenneth E. Behring Center collects, preserves and displays the heritage of the United States in the areas of social, political, cultural, scientific and military history. Among the items on display are the original Star-Spangled Banner and Archie Bunker's...

, a treasure of the Smithsonian Institution
Smithsonian Institution
The Smithsonian Institution is an educational and research institute and associated museum complex, administered and funded by the government of the United States and by funds from its endowment, contributions, and profits from its retail operations, concessions, licensing activities, and magazines...

. It was restored in 1914 by Amelia Fowler
Amelia Fowler
Amelia Fowler, an embroidery teacher and well-known flag preserver, was the master needle worker who restored the original Star Spangled Banner in 1914. By that time, the flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to write the United States national anthem was just "a frail piece of bunting." But...

, and again in 1998 as part of an ongoing conservation program.

Aboard the ship the next day, Key wrote a poem on the back of a letter he had kept in his pocket. At twilight on September 16, he and Skinner were released in Baltimore. He completed the poem at the Indian Queen Hotel, where he was staying, and entitled it "Defence of Fort McHenry."

Much of the idea of the poem and even some of the wording is arguably derived from an earlier song by Key, also set to the tune of The Anacreontic Song. The song, known as "When the Warrior Returns," is said to have been written in honor of Stephen Decatur
Stephen Decatur
Stephen Decatur, Jr. , was an American naval officer notable for his many naval victories in the early 19th century. He was born on the eastern shore of Maryland, Worcester county, the son of a U.S. Naval Officer who served during the American Revolution. Shortly after attending college Decatur...

 and Charles Stewart on their return from the First Barbary War
First Barbary War
The First Barbary War , also known as the Barbary Coast War or the Tripolitan War, was the first of two wars fought between the United States and the North African Berber Muslim states known collectively as the Barbary States...

.

According to the historian Robin Blackburn
Robin Blackburn
Robin Blackburn is a British socialist historian, a former editor of New Left Review , an author of essays on Marx, capitalism and socialism, and of books on the history of slavery and on social policy...

, the words "the hireling and slave" allude to the fact that the British attackers had many ex-slaves in their ranks, who had been promised liberty and demanded to be placed in the battle line "where they might expect to meet their former masters."

Key gave the poem to his brother-in-law, Judge Joseph H. Nicholson. Nicholson saw that the words fit the popular melody "The Anacreontic Song", of English
English people
The English are a nation and ethnic group native to England, who speak English. The English identity is of early mediaeval origin, when they were known in Old English as the Anglecynn. England is now a country of the United Kingdom, and the majority of English people in England are British Citizens...

 composer John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith
John Stafford Smith was a British composer, church organist, and early musicologist. He was one of the first serious collectors of manuscripts of works by Johann Sebastian Bach....

, which was the official song of the Anacreontic Society
Anacreontic Society
The Anacreontic Society was a popular gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London founded in the mid-18th century. These barristers, doctors, and other professional men named their club after the Greek court poet Anacreon, who lived in the 6th century B.C. and whose poems, "anacreontics", were...

, an 18th-century gentlemen's club of amateur musicians in London
London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

. Nicholson took the poem to a printer in Baltimore, who anonymously printed broadside
Broadside (music)
A broadside is a single sheet of cheap paper printed on one side, often with a ballad, rhyme, news and sometimes with woodcut illustrations...

 copies of it—the song’s first known printing—on September 17; of these, two known copies survive.
On September 20, both the Baltimore Patriot and The American printed the song, with the note "Tune: Anacreon in Heaven." The song quickly became popular, with seventeen newspapers from Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

 to New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

 printing it. Soon after, Thomas Carr of the Carr Music Store in Baltimore published the words and music together under the title "The Star-Spangled Banner," although it was originally called "Defence of Fort McHenry." The song’s popularity increased, and its first public performance took place in October, when Baltimore actor Ferdinand Durang
Ferdinand Durang
Ferdinand Durang was an American actor, best known as the first person to sing publicly Francis Scott Key's "The Star-Spangled Banner"....

 sang it at Captain McCauley’s tavern
Tavern
A tavern is a place of business where people gather to drink alcoholic beverages and be served food, and in some cases, where travelers receive lodging....

. Washington Irving
Washington Irving
Washington Irving was an American author, essayist, biographer and historian of the early 19th century. He was best known for his short stories "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle", both of which appear in his book The Sketch Book of Geoffrey Crayon, Gent. His historical works...

, then editor of The Analectic Magazine
Analectic Magazine
The Analectic Magazine was published in Philadelphia by Moses Thomas. Some issues contained reprinted articles from the British press. Washington Irving served as editor 1813-1814. "The first lithograph ever made in America is in this magazine for July 1819. It represents a woodland scene — a...

 in Philadelphia, reprinted the song in November 1814.
The song gained popularity throughout the nineteenth century and bands played it during public events, such as July 4
Independence Day (United States)
Independence Day, commonly known as the Fourth of July, is a federal holiday in the United States commemorating the adoption of the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776, declaring independence from the Kingdom of Great Britain...

 celebrations. On July 27, 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy
Benjamin F. Tracy
Benjamin Franklin Tracy was a United States political figure who served as Secretary of the Navy from 1889 through 1893, during the administration of U.S. President Benjamin Harrison.-Biography:...

 signed General Order #374, making "The Star-Spangled Banner" the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag.

In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson
Woodrow Wilson
Thomas Woodrow Wilson was the 28th President of the United States, from 1913 to 1921. A leader of the Progressive Movement, he served as President of Princeton University from 1902 to 1910, and then as the Governor of New Jersey from 1911 to 1913...

 ordered that "The Star-Spangled Banner" be played at military and other appropriate occasions. Although the playing of the song two years later during the seventh-inning stretch
Seventh-inning stretch
The seventh-inning stretch is a tradition in baseball that takes place between the halves of the seventh inning of any game – in the middle of the seventh inning. Fans generally stand up and stretch out their arms and legs and sometimes walk around. It is a popular time to get a late-game snack as...

 of the 1918 World Series
1918 World Series
The 1918 World Series featured the Boston Red Sox, who defeated the Chicago Cubs four games to two. The Series victory for the Red Sox was their fifth in five tries, going back to . The Red Sox scored only nine runs in the entire Series; the fewest runs by the winning team in World Series history...

 is often noted as the first instance that the anthem was played at a baseball
Baseball
Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played between two teams of nine players each. The aim is to score runs by hitting a thrown ball with a bat and touching a series of four bases arranged at the corners of a ninety-foot diamond...

 game, evidence shows that the "Star-Spangled Banner" was performed as early as 1897 at opening day ceremonies in Philadelphia and then more regularly at the Polo Grounds
Polo Grounds
The Polo Grounds was the name given to four different stadiums in Upper Manhattan, New York City, used by many professional teams in both baseball and American football from 1880 until 1963...

 in New York City
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

 beginning in 1898. However, the tradition of performing the national anthem before every baseball game began in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. Today, the anthem is performed before the beginning of all MLS
Major League Soccer
Major League Soccer is a professional soccer league based in the United States and sanctioned by the United States Soccer Federation . The league is composed of 19 teams — 16 in the U.S. and 3 in Canada...

, NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL games (with at least one American team playing), as well as in a pre-race ceremony portion of every NASCAR
NASCAR
The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing is a family-owned and -operated business venture that sanctions and governs multiple auto racing sports events. It was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1947–48. As of 2009, the CEO for the company is Brian France, grandson of the late Bill France Sr...

 race.

On November 3, 1929, Robert Ripley
Robert Ripley
Robert LeRoy Ripley was an American cartoonist, entrepreneur and amateur anthropologist, who created the world famous Ripley's Believe It or Not! newspaper panel series, radio show, and television show which feature odd 'facts' from around the world.Subjects covered in Ripley's cartoons and text...

 drew a panel in his syndicated cartoon, Ripley's Believe it or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not!
Ripley's Believe It or Not! is a franchise, founded by Robert Ripley, which deals in bizarre events and items so strange and unusual that readers might question the claims...

, saying "Believe It or Not, America has no national anthem". In 1931, John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa
John Philip Sousa was an American composer and conductor of the late Romantic era, known particularly for American military and patriotic marches. Because of his mastery of march composition, he is known as "The March King" or the "American March King" due to his British counterpart Kenneth J....

 published his opinion in favor, stating that "it is the spirit of the music that inspires" as much as it is Key’s "soul-stirring" words. By a law signed on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover
Herbert Hoover
Herbert Clark Hoover was the 31st President of the United States . Hoover was originally a professional mining engineer and author. As the United States Secretary of Commerce in the 1920s under Presidents Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge, he promoted partnerships between government and business...

, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was adopted as the national anthem of the United States.

Modern history

The first "pop performance of the anthem heard by mainstream America was by Puerto Rican
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

 singer and guitarist
Guitarist
A guitarist is a musician who plays the guitar. Guitarists may play a variety of instruments such as classical guitars, acoustic guitars, electric guitars, and bass guitars. Some guitarists accompany themselves on the guitar while singing.- Versatility :The guitarist controls an extremely...

 Jose Feliciano
José Feliciano
José Feliciano is a Puerto Rican singer, virtuoso guitarist and composer known for many international hits including the 1970 holiday single "Feliz Navidad".-Childhood:...

. He shocked some people in the crowd at Tiger Stadium in Detroit and some Americans when he strummed a slow, bluesy rendition of the national anthem before game five of the 1968 World Series
1968 World Series
The 1968 World Series featured the defending champion St. Louis Cardinals against the Detroit Tigers, with the Tigers winning in seven games for their first championship since 1945, and the third in their history...

 between Detroit
Detroit Tigers
The Detroit Tigers are a Major League Baseball team located in Detroit, Michigan. One of the American League's eight charter franchises, the club was founded in Detroit in as part of the Western League. The Tigers have won four World Series championships and have won the American League pennant...

 and St. Louis
St. Louis Cardinals
The St. Louis Cardinals are a professional baseball team based in St. Louis, Missouri. They are members of the Central Division in the National League of Major League Baseball. The Cardinals have won eleven World Series championships, the most of any National League team, and second overall only to...

. This rendition started contemporary "Star-Spangled Banner" controversies. The response from many in Vietnam
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

-era America was generally negative, given that 1968 was a tumultuous year for the United States. Despite the controversy, Feliciano's performance opened the door for the countless interpretations of the "Star-Spangled Banner" heard today. One week after Feliciano's performance, the anthem was in the news again when American athletes Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith
Tommie Smith is an African American former track & field athlete and wide receiver in the American Football League. At the 1968 Summer Olympics, Smith won the 200-meter dash finals in 19.83 seconds – the first time the 20 second barrier was broken...

 and John Carlos
John Carlos
John Wesley Carlos is a Cuban American former track and field athlete and professional football player. He was the bronze-medal winner in the 200 meters at the 1968 Summer Olympics and his black power salute on the podium with Tommie Smith caused much political controversy...

 lifted controversial raised-fists at the 1968 Olympics
1968 Olympics Black Power salute
The 1968 Olympics Black Power salute involved the African American athletes Tommie Smith and John Carlos giving the Black power salute at the Olympic Stadium in Mexico City...

 while the "Star-Spangled Banner" played at a medal ceremony.
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
Marvin Pentz Gay, Jr. , better known by his stage name Marvin Gaye, was an American singer-songwriter and musician with a three-octave vocal range....

 gave a soul
Soul music
Soul music is a music genre originating in the United States combining elements of gospel music and rhythm and blues. According to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, soul is "music that arose out of the black experience in America through the transmutation of gospel and rhythm & blues into a form of...

-influenced performance at the 1983 NBA All-Star Game
1983 NBA All-Star Game
The 33rd National Basketball Association All-Star Game was played on February 13, 1983 at The Forum in Inglewood, California. The Eastern Conference defeated the Western Conference, 132–123. The Most Valuable Player was Julius Erving. Billy Cunningham coached the Eastern Conference team...

 and Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston
Whitney Elizabeth Houston is an American singer, actress, producer and a former model. Houston is the most awarded female act of all time, according to Guinness World Records, and her list of awards include 1 Emmy Award, 6 Grammy Awards, 30 Billboard Music Awards, 22 American Music Awards, among...

 gave a soulful rendition before Super Bowl XXV
Super Bowl XXV
Super Bowl XXV was an American football game played on January 27, 1991 at Tampa Stadium in Tampa, Florida to decide the National Football League champion following the 1990 regular season. The National Football Conference Champion New York Giants defeated the American Football Conference ...

 in 1991, which was released as a single that charted at number 20 in 1991 and number 6 in 2001 (the only times the anthem has been on the Billboard Hot 100
Billboard Hot 100
The Billboard Hot 100 is the United States music industry standard singles popularity chart issued weekly by Billboard magazine. Chart rankings are based on radio play and sales; the tracking-week for sales begins on Monday and ends on Sunday, while the radio play tracking-week runs from Wednesday...

). Another famous instrumental interpretation is Jimi Hendrix's
Jimi Hendrix
James Marshall "Jimi" Hendrix was an American guitarist and singer-songwriter...

 version which was a set-list staple from autumn 1968 until his death in September 1970. Incorporating sonic effects
Reverberation
Reverberation is the persistence of sound in a particular space after the original sound is removed. A reverberation, or reverb, is created when a sound is produced in an enclosed space causing a large number of echoes to build up and then slowly decay as the sound is absorbed by the walls and air...

 to emphasize the "rockets' red glare", and "bombs bursting in air", it became a late-1960s emblem. Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Barr
Roseanne Cherrie Barr is an American actress, comedian, writer, television producer and director. Barr began her career in stand-up comedy at clubs before gaining fame for her role in the sitcom Roseanne. The show was a hit and lasted nine seasons, from 1988 to 1997...

 gave a controversial performance of the anthem at a San Diego Padres
San Diego Padres
The San Diego Padres are a Major League Baseball team based in San Diego, California. They play in the National League Western Division. Founded in 1969, the Padres have won the National League Pennant twice, in 1984 and 1998, losing in the World Series both times...

 baseball game at Jack Murphy Stadium on July 25, 1990. The comedienne belted out a screechy rendition of the song, and afterward she attempted a gesture of ball players by spitting and grabbing her crotch as if adjusting a protective cup. The song and the closing routine offended many in the audience and, later, across the country after it was played on television.

In March 2005, a government-sponsored program, the National Anthem Project
National Anthem Project
The National Anthem Project was a public awareness campaign launched in 2005 as a major initiative of MENC: The National Association for Music Education...

, was launched after a Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive
Harris Interactive , headquartered in New York, New York, is a custom market research firm, known for the Harris Poll. Harris works in a wide range of industries...

 poll showed many adults knew neither the lyrics nor the history of the anthem.

Lyrics

Additional Civil War period lyrics

In indignation over the start of the Civil War, Oliver Wendell Holmes added a fifth stanza to the song in 1861 which appeared in songbooks of the era.

When our land is illumined with liberty's smile,
If a foe from within strikes a blow at her glory,
Down, down with the traitor that tries to defile
The flag of the stars, and the page of her story!
By the millions unchained,
Who their birthright have gained
We will keep her bright blazon forever unstained;
And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave,
While the land of the free is the home of the brave.

Alternative lyrics

In a version hand-written by Francis Scott Key in 1840, the third line reads "Whose bright stars and broad stripes, through the clouds of the fight,".

Custom

United States Code, , states that during a rendition of the national anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; Members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. Recently enacted law in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well.

However, this statutory suggestion does not have any penalty associated with violations. This behavioral requirement for the national anthem is subject to the same First Amendment
First Amendment to the United States Constitution
The First Amendment to the United States Constitution is part of the Bill of Rights. The amendment prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering...

 controversies that surround the Pledge of Allegiance
Pledge of Allegiance
The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of loyalty to the federal flag and the republic of the United States of America, originally composed by Christian Socialist Francis Bellamy in 1892 and formally adopted by Congress as the pledge in 1942...

. For example, Jehovah’s Witnesses do not stand for or sing the national anthem.

Translations

As a result of immigration to the United States, as well as the absorption of significant numbers of Spanish-speakers in the Southwest and Puerto Rico, the lyrics of the song were translated into other languages. In 1861, it was translated into German. The Library of Congress also has record of a Spanish-language version from 1919. It has since been translated into Hebrew
Hebrew language
Hebrew is a Semitic language of the Afroasiatic language family. Culturally, is it considered by Jews and other religious groups as the language of the Jewish people, though other Jewish languages had originated among diaspora Jews, and the Hebrew language is also used by non-Jewish groups, such...

 and Yiddish
Yiddish language
Yiddish is a High German language of Ashkenazi Jewish origin, spoken throughout the world. It developed as a fusion of German dialects with Hebrew, Aramaic, Slavic languages and traces of Romance languages...

 by Jewish immigrants, Latin American Spanish (with one version
Nuestro Himno
"" is a Spanish-language version of the United States national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner". The debut of the translation came amid a growing controversy over immigration in the United States "" (Spanish for "Our Anthem") is a Spanish-language version of the United States national anthem,...

 popularized during immigration reform protests in 2006
2006 United States immigration reform protests
In 2006, millions of people participated in protests over a proposed change to U.S. immigration policy. The protests began in response to proposed legislation known as H.R. 4437, which would raise penalties for Illegal immigration and classify illegal immigrants and anyone who helped them enter or...

), French by Acadian
Acadian
The Acadians are the descendants of the 17th-century French colonists who settled in Acadia . Acadia was a colony of New France...

s of Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

, Samoan
Samoan language
Samoan Samoan Samoan (Gagana Sāmoa, is the language of the Samoan Islands, comprising the independent country of Samoa and the United States territory of American Samoa. It is an official language—alongside English—in both jurisdictions. Samoan, a Polynesian language, is the first language for most...

, and Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

. The third verse of the anthem has also been translated into Latin
Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

.

With regard to the indigenous languages of North America, there are versions in Navajo and Cherokee.

Performances


The song is notoriously difficult for nonprofessionals to sing, because of its wide range an octave
Octave
In music, an octave is the interval between one musical pitch and another with half or double its frequency. The octave relationship is a natural phenomenon that has been referred to as the "basic miracle of music", the use of which is "common in most musical systems"...

 and a half. Humorist Richard Armour
Richard Armour (poet)
Richard Willard Armour was an American poet and author who wrote over sixty-five books.-Life and work:Armour was born in San Pedro, Los Angeles, California. His father was a druggist, and Armour's autobiographical Drug Store Days recalls his childhood in both San Pedro and Pomona...

 referred to the song's difficulty in his book It All Started With Columbus.
Professional and amateur singers have been known to forget the words, which is one reason the song is sometimes pre-recorded and lip-synced. Other times the issue is avoided by having the performer(s) play the anthem instrumentally instead of singing it. Such situations have been lampooned in film (see below). The pre-recording of the anthem has become standard practice at some ballparks, such as Boston's Fenway Park
Fenway Park
Fenway Park is a baseball park near Kenmore Square in Boston, Massachusetts. Located at 4 Yawkey Way, it has served as the home ballpark of the Boston Red Sox baseball club since it opened in 1912, and is the oldest Major League Baseball stadium currently in use. It is one of two "classic"...

, according to the SABR publication The Fenway Project. Pop singer Christina Aguilera
Christina Aguilera
Christina María Aguilera is an American recording artist and actress. Aguilera first appeared on national television in 1990 as a contestant on the Star Search program, and went on to star in Disney Channel's television series The Mickey Mouse Club from 1993–1994...

 performed the wrong lyrics to the song prior to Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowl XLV
Super Bowl XLV was an American football game between the American Football Conference champion Pittsburgh Steelers and the National Football Conference champion Green Bay Packers to decide the National Football League champion for the 2010 season. The game was held at Cowboys Stadium in...

, replacing the song's fourth line, "o'er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming," with an alteration of the second line, "what so proudly we watched at the twilight's last gleaming".

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is traditionally played at the beginning of public sports events and orchestral concerts in the United States, as well as other public gatherings. Performances at particularly large events are often ended with a military flypast
Flypast
Flypast is a term used in the United Kingdom, the Commonwealth, and other countries to denote ceremonial or honorific flights by groups of aircraft and, rarely, by a single aircraft...

. The NHL
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

 requires arenas in both the U.S. and Canada to perform both the Canadian
O Canada
It has been noted that the opening theme of "O Canada" bears a strong resemblance to the "Marsch der Priester" , from the opera Die Zauberflöte , composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and that Lavallée's melody was inspired by Mozart's tune...

 and American national anthems at games that involve teams from both countries.

One especially unusual performance of the song took place on September 12, 2001, after the United States September 11 attacks: Queen Elizabeth II broke with tradition and allowed the Band of the Coldstream Guards to perform the American national anthem at Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace
Buckingham Palace, in London, is the principal residence and office of the British monarch. Located in the City of Westminster, the palace is a setting for state occasions and royal hospitality...

, London at the ceremonial Changing of the Guard, as a gesture of support for Britain's ally.

Media

External links


Historical texts


Historical audio

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