Saturday, July 4, 2015
HISTORY OF A SONG: STAR SPANGLED BANNER
Again, The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort M'Henry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet Francis Scott Key after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by British ships of the Royal Navy in the Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.
The poem was set to the tune of a popular British song written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men's social club in London. "To Anacreon in Heaven (or "The Anacreontic Song"), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one octave and one fifth (a semitone more than an octave and a half), it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the poem has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today.
"The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889, and by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916, and was made the national anthem by acongressional resolution on March 3, 1931 which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.
Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. "Hail, Columbia" served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", whose melody is identical to "God Save the Queen", the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem. Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs emerged to compete for popularity at public events, among them The Star-Spangled Banner.
Countless people have recorded the Anthem from Bing Crosby to Whitney Houston. However, professional and amateur singers have been known to forget the words, which is one reason the song is sometimes pre-recorded and lip-synced. Other times the issue is avoided by having the performer(s) play the anthem instrumentally instead of singing it. The pre-recording of the anthem has become standard practice at some ballparks, such as Boston's Fenway Park, according to the SABR publication The Fenway Project.
The 200th Anniversary of the Star-Spangled Banner occurred in 2014 with various special events occurring throughout the United States. A particularly significant celebration occurred during the week of September 10–16 in and around Baltimore, Maryland. Highlights included playing of a new arrangement of the Anthem arranged by John Williams and participation of President Obama on Defender's Day, September 12, 2014, at Fort McHenry...