117 years earlier Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics to "The Star-Spangled Banner" after witnessing a massive overnight British bombardment of Fort McHenry in Maryland during the War of 1812. Key was an American lawyer aboard a British ship and when he saw the American flag at Fort McHenry still flying after all the fighting he was inspired to write the anthem's words.
(An aside: Does anyone else besides me wonder why he's always called Francis Scott Key and not just Francis Key?)
The lyrics were later set to the tune of "To Anacreon in Heaven," a popular English song. Throughout the 19th century, "The Star-Spangled Banner" was regarded as the national anthem by most branches of the U.S. armed forces and other groups, but it wasn't until 1916, and the signing of an executive order by President Woodrow Wilson, that it was formally designated as such. Fifteen years later, President Hoover signed it into law.
Do you know what country has the oldest National Anthem?
Below is an audio clip of "Het Wilhelmus", the National Anthem of the Netherlands, the instrumental version that is played before the Dutch football team plays an FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association) match.
The national anthem of Japan, "Kimigayo", (The Emperor's Reign) has the oldest lyrics ever used in an Anthem. They are from a poem titled "Kokin Wakashu", first published in 905 (not a typo: there is no 1 before the 905). The music was composed in 1880 and became Japan's National Anthem in 1888.
Ten years ago, when I was teaching chorus classes in a public high school I had my women's chorus learn our National Anthem - all four verses. So much moaning and groaning about having to learn So Many Words. You'd think I'd asked them to memorize and recite the Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and The Bill of Rights. They accused me of making up the words because they'd never heard them before. They knew only those they'd sung at football games, the first stanza.
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?
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!
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 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.
O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the power 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
I couldn't find an instrumental version of South Sudan's National Anthem. The video clip from YouTube is a choral version.
God save our gracious Queen!
Long live our noble Queen!
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the Queen.
What's the best experience you've had singing your National Anthem?