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Star Spangled Banner Lyrics

James Madison

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics: James Madison was the 4th American President who served in office from March 4, 1809 to March 4, 1817. One of the events during his presidency was the composition of a poem called the "The Defence of Fort McHenry" by  Francis Scott Key (1779-1843). The poem became known as the "Star Spangled Banner".

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics - The National Anthem
The "Star Spangled Banner" lyrics were put to music and were destined to find a place in American history as the National Anthem of the USA.  Read the  Star Spangled Banner Lyrics together with the meaning of the words.

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics
Francis Scott Key wrote the "Star Spangled Banner" lyrics during the War of 1812 (aka the 'Second War for Independence') which was an armed conflict between the United States  and Great Britain.

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics: FAQ's (Frequently asked questions for kids)
The most Frequently asked questions about the Star Spangled Banner Lyrics are:

Who wrote the Star Spangled Banner lyrics? Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

Why was the Star Spangled Banner written? Francis Scott Key said that the lyrics were "... the first time that someone had put down in words their feelings about their country and the flag"

Where was the Star Spangled Banner written? The lyrics were written at Fort Henry, Baltimore, in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland

When was the Star Spangled Banner written? The lyrics were written following the US victory at the Battle of Baltimore, during the War of 1812 on September 14, 1814

When was the Star Spangled Banner officially made the national anthem? The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics were officially made the national anthem on March 3, 1931 by President Herbert Hoover who signed an act into law

What is the meaning of the Star Spangled Banner lyrics? The meaning of the Star Spangled Banner Lyrics reflect the patriotic feelings of Francis Scott Key when he saw the enormous US flag flying over Fort Henry

What are the Star Spangled Banner lyrics? The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics are detailed below together with the meaning of the lyrics

The Star Spangled Banner Lyrics for kids: What was the Inspiration to the Star Spangled Banner Lyrics?
Francis Scott Key was inspired to write the lyrics to the 'Star Spangled Banner' after he had been detained by the British and had watched the bombardment of Fort McHenry during the Battle of Baltimore on the night of September 13-14, 1814. Unsure of the outcome of the battle he looked towards Fort Henry dreading to see the Union Jack flying over the fort. Instead, he saw the 'Star Spangled Banner' proudly flying and realized that the brave Americans had been victorious.

Refer to The History of the Star Spangled Banner.

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 1

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?

Meaning of Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 1

  • The flag that flew over the fort was enormous. The commander of Fort Henry, Important George Armistead had commissioned Mary Pickersgill to make "a flag so large that the British would have no difficulty seeing it from a distance"

  • The flag could be seen from several miles away and Francis Scott Key was saying that it could be seen in the last light before nightfall and the first light at dawn

  • The 'perilous fight' was the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812

  • The Star Spangled Banner was streaming over the ramparts (battlements) of the fort

  • The "rocket's red glare" and the "bombs bursting" used alliteration to describe the cannon fire pounding from the British navy and the cannons firing from the fort (one of the ships was armed with a rocket launcher)

  • The angry red glow from the cannon fire enabled Americans to see their Star Spangled Banner was still flying - the British had not captured the fort and hoisted the Union Jack

  • The Star Spangled Banner was waving over the 'land of the free' - a reference to the fight for Independence that had resulted in freedom from the tyranny of the British

  • The 'home of the brave' lyrics reflect the heroic exploits of Americans to defend their country

  • The War of 1812 was popularly known as the 'Second War for Independence'

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 2

On the shore, dimly seen through 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 in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Meaning of Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 2

  • Francis Scott Key was describing the perspective from the land as American looked out to hazy images of the British ships

  • The 'foe's haughty host' lyrics describe the vessels of the arrogant British

  • The lyrics 'dread silence reposes' express the view of the ships that look quiet and still as if resting, but are actually a hive of terrifying activity

  • Francis Scott Key describes the high vertical position of the flag over Fort Henry in the lyrics 'o'er the towering steep' and the movement of the flag blowing in the wind, concealing then revealing the Star Spangled Banner

  • The sun comes out and clearly shines on the Star Spangled Banner, 'in full glory' lyrics express the grandeur of the flag and a religious connotation

  • Francis Scott Key almost makes the Star Spangled Banner lyrics 'cheer' using the patriotic words "Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave. O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave!"

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 3

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 washed 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!

Meaning of Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 3

  • Francis Scott Key describes the British as arrogant and boastful in the lyrics 'that band who so vauntingly swore'

  • He is venting his anger at the British with the "foul footsteps' pollution" lyrics inferring that the British poisoned the ground on which they walked

  • But the poison and corruption had been washed away by the blood of the British

  • The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "the hireling " refers to the British use of Mercenaries (German Hessians) in the American War of Independence

  • The Star Spangled Banner lyrics "...and slave" is a direct reference to the British practice of Impressment (kidnapping American seamen and forcing them into service on British man-of war ships). This was a Important cause of the War of 1812

  • Francis Scott Key then describes the Star Spangled Banner as a symbol of triumph over all adversity

Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 4

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory 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!

Meaning of Star Spangled Banner Lyrics Verse 4

  • Pride and Patriotism is the theme of the last verse

  • Francis Scott Key uses emotive words such as 'freeman', 'home', 'blest', 'victory', 'triumph', 'conquer' and 'peace' in the Star Spangled Banner lyrics

  • He was a deeply religious man and his words reflect his belief that God was on the side of the Americans

  • He refers to the American nation and fighting for a just cause

  • The words "In God is our trust" combines the concepts of religion and patriotism and are believed to be the origin of the official motto of the United States "In God we trust". The unofficial motto of 'E pluribus unum' which was adopted when the Great Seal of the United States was created in 1782

US American History
1801-1828: Evolution Era

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