• The Star-Spangled Banner flying over Tangier Island, VA.

    Star-Spangled Banner

    National Historic Trail DC, MD, VA

"The Star-Spangled Banner"

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Sheet Music, The Star-Spangled Banner

"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. Francis Scott Key, a young poet-lawyer, witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry while under British guard on an American truce ship in the Patapsco River. Seeing his country's flag still flying over the Fort the next morning, he was moved to pen these immortal lines:

O 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, through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming!
And the rockets's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through 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 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, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the mornings' 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 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!

O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heaven-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!

"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was designated the national anthem by a Congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Did You Know?

Star-Spangled Banner National Anthem sheet music

Francis Scott Key's patriotic song describing the bombardment of Fort McHenry was first published as a broadside in 1814. The broadside included important details on how the song came to be written and shows that it was originally titled "Defense of Fort M'Henry."