The star-spangled banner (John Stafford Smith)

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  • (Posted 2019-01-12)  CPDL #52887:       
Editor: Andrew Sims (submitted 2019-01-12).   Score information: A4, 2 pages, 55 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Arranged by Andrew Sims. Harmony arranged by Andrew Sims.
  • (Posted 2017-11-16)  CPDL #47385:         
Editor: Larry Minton (submitted 2017-11-16).   Score information: Letter, 12 pages, 427 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Arranged by Larry Minton for SA and SAB in C and B, with Piano accompaniment.
  • (Posted 2010-04-15)  CPDL #21452:          (Sibelius 4)
Editor: Ashley Etzkorn (submitted 2010-04-15).   Score information: 18.8 x 23.9 cm, 1 page, 125 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: For Soprano solo a cappella.
  • (Posted 2008-08-02)  CPDL #17782:    Network.png
Editor: David Newman (submitted 2008-08-02).   Score information: Letter, 2 pages, 128 kB   Copyright: Public Domain
Edition notes: Harmonized by Walter Damrosch for SATB and Piano. Cross posting by Art Song Central - Version prepared at the request of the U.S. Bureau of Education - 3 Verses only - Edition in B Flat Major
  • (Posted 2003-08-25)  CPDL #05538:  Icon_pdf_globe.gif
Editor: Joseph G. Stephens (submitted 2003-08-25).   Score information: Letter, 2 pages, 82 kB   Copyright: Personal
Edition notes: Arranged by Joseph G. Stephens for SSATTBB a cappella.

General Information

Title: The Star-Spangled Banner
Composer: John Stafford Smith
Lyricist: Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

Genre: SecularAnthemPatriotic music

Language: English
First published:
Description: "The Star-Spangled Banner" was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover. "The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from a poem written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, a then 35-year-old amateur poet who wrote "Defence of Fort McHenry" after seeing the bombardment of Fort McHenry at Baltimore, Maryland, by Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a London social club, c.1770. "The Anacreontic Song" (or "To Anacreon in Heaven"), already popular in the United States in other parodies, set to Key's poem and renamed "The Star-Spangled Banner", soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth ("O thus be it ever when free men shall stand …") added on more formal occasions.

The words of "The Star Spangled Banner" were written by Mr. Key in 1814 under stirring circumstances. He was detained on board one of the British ships which attacked Fort McHenry. All night the bombardment continued, indicating that the fort had not surrendered. Toward the morning the firing ceased, and Mr. Key awaited dawn in great suspense. When light came, he saw that "our flag was still there," and in the fervor of the moment he wrote the lines of our national song.

External websites:

Original text and translations

English.png English text

1  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’ 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.

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!


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!

4  O! 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!