The Star-Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key 1814

1. O 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 rocket's 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.

2. On the shore dimly seen
Thro' the mist 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 in 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.

3. And where is the band
Who so vauntingly swore,
'Mid the havoc of war
And the battles confusion,
A home and a country
They'd leave us no more?
Their blood has wash'd out
Their foul footstep's 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.

4. 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 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.



On Performing
Our National Anthem

In the Year of Our Lord 2011


"Singing our National Anthem to honor not as a career maker.


There has been quite a bit of criticism of Christina Aguilera’s embarrassing rendition of our national anthem prior to kick-off of Super Bowl 45. Most of the comments have been focused on her botching the lyrics. Fair enough.


It is not a pop ballad or a soul tune. It is not a Broadway standard or a heavy metal song. It is not something that the American Idol judges should ever have to critique. It is a song about the courage and devotion shown by a group of Americans who in the course of a raging British naval bombardment refused to let the Stars and Stripes fall, no matter the cost to life and limb. And it became a song about the kind of nation we have been and still are, through

war and peace, boom and bust. It is about the never-say-die, never-give-in, never-yield attitude that has been the hallmark of our national character and our military’s steadfast defense of freedom from Valley Forge, to Fort McHenry, to St. Lo, to Mt. Suribachi, to Baghdad, and Kandahar. It’s about firemen and policemen running into the World Trade Center on 9/11. It’s about that flag flying proudly and defiantly over the land of the free and the home of the brave.


So, with all the kindness I can muster, I give this one piece of advice to the next pop star who is asked to sing the national anthem at a sporting event: save the vocal gymnastics and the physical gyrations for your concerts. Just sing this song the way you were taught to sing it in kindergarten — straight up, no styling. Sing it with the constant awareness that there are soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines watching you from bases and outposts all over the world. Don’t make them cringe with your self-centered ego gratification. Sing it as if you are standing

before a row of 86-year-old WWII vets wearing their Purple Hearts, Silver Stars and flag pins on their cardigans and you want them to be proud of you for honoring them and the country they love — not because you want them to think you are a superstar musician. They could see that from the costumes, the makeup and the entourages.


Sing “The Star Spangled Banner” with the courtesy and humility that tells the audience that it is about America, not you."


(author unknown) 2011




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