THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER
Francis Scott Key, 1779–1843
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: Whether it be to the king, as supreme, or to governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well. (1 Peter 2:13, 14 KJV)
During the War of 1812, while on the deck of a truce ship, Francis Key paced nervously as a fierce battle raged nearby during the British attack on the harbor of Baltimore. As District Attorney of Georgetown and a spiritual lay leader of his church, Key had been sent by President James Madison to negotiate with the British for a physician who had been taken prisoner. All night Key and his party were detained as the heavy bombardment continued. When the firing suddenly stopped just before morning, Key was fearful of the outcome; but as he looked hesitantly across the water, he saw the American flag still triumphantly flying with the assurance of our nation’s freedom!
With joyful relief, Key wrote his poem hastily on the back of an envelope and put finishing touches on it after being released later that evening. One month later the song was published, accompanied by an old hunting tune, “Anacron in Heaven,” attributed to John Stafford Smith of England. Although enthusiastically received by the people, the song was not officially adopted by Congress as our national anthem until March 3, 1931.
O 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, thru 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 thru 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?
O 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!
For Today: Proverbs 14:34; Matthew 22:21; Romans 13:1–7; 1 Timothy 2:1, 2; 1 Peter 2:13–21
Write a letter of commendation to a public official for some worthy contribution he has made to the moral and spiritual betterment of our country. May this musical question from our national anthem be a continuing challenge and concern.