The National Anthem - 80 years

80 years ago this week, the Star-Spangled Banner was designated the national anthem of the United States by Act of Congress (on Mar. 3, 1931, to be exact.) The words were written by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry, Baltimore, Sept. 13-14, 1814.

Oh, 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 rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

When the anthem is performed well - in my opinion instrumental versions are best - it can be truly inspiring.

Here's a version from our Music Online streaming music database: The Star-Spangled Banner arranged by John Phillip Sousa, performed by the University of Texas Wind Ensemble.

If this wakes your patriotic juices, check out this full album from the American Military Band, Music of the U.S. Army, which includes another version of the anthem along with more familiar patriotic tunes.

Learn more about the history of the Star-Spangled Banner.

*Denver Public Library card required.

Written by Janet on March 3, 2011


Anonymous on March 4, 2011


Interesting that the lyrics for the first stanza end with a question mark but we sing it as a declarative statement.


Good catch! I hadn't realized it, but a closer reading shows that the first line and the last line are questions - wondering whether the flag is still flying after the prolonged battle. I suppose we sing it as declarative statement because the flag continues to fly.

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