Verse > Anthologies > William McCarty, ed. > The American National Song Book
William McCarty, comp.  The American National Song Book.  1842.
The Star-Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key (1779–1843)
Tune—“Anacreon in Heaven”

          The annexed song was composed under the following circumstances:—A gentleman had left Baltimore, with a flag of truce, for the purpose of getting released from the British fleet a friend of his, who had been captured at Marlborough. He went as far as the mouth of the Patuxent, and was not permitted to return, lest the intended attack on Baltimore should be disclosed. He was therefore brought up the bay to the mouth of the Patapsco, where the flag-vessel was kept under the guns of a frigate; and he was compelled to witness the bombardment of Fort M’Henry, which the admiral had boasted he would carry in a few hours, and that the city must fall. He watched the flag at the fort through the whole day, with an anxiety that can be better felt than described, until the night prevented him from seeing it. In the night he watched the bomb-shells, and at early dawn his eye was again greeted by the proudly-waving flag of his country.

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, through 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,        5
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;        10
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 on the stream;
  ’Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave        15
  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 footsteps’ pollution.        20
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        25
  Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Bless’d 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!”        30
  And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
  O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

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