The Star-Spangled Banner: Its message of Valor and Faith

President James Madison commissioned Francis Scott Key, a lawyer from Maryland, to gain the release of Dr. William Beans, held captive by the invading British in the War of 1812. Key was impressed by a large American flag that had survived the overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry.  This sight thus inspired Key to write what has come to be known as the “Star-Spangled Banner.” Congress adopted this hymn as our National Anthem in 1931.

Though a perennial sports arena fixture, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is rarely appreciated in its entirety.  Please take a moment to consider once more the moving lyrics of this ode to America and its defenders—the stout American military and the God of heaven Who is ultimately our only Protection.  Let us, this Veteran’s Day, remember those who fought for American independence and liberty, and the God who has protected them and us.  In this light, note especially the last verse.—ed.:


Oh, say, can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro’ the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watch’d, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro’ 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?

On the shore dimly seen thro’ 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?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected, now shines on the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner: O, long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand,
Between their lov’d 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 preserv’d 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!

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