On March 3rd, 1931, 86 years ago today, an Act of Congress made the Star Spangled Banner America’s national anthem. So, in celebration of this important event, we invite you to study the song and the reason it was written.
Following the American Revolution, Americans hoped to live in peace but France and England became engaged in a conflict that drew America back into war. The British captured American ships on the high seas and forced American sailors (around 10,000 of them) to fight for England. The United States declared war. Known as the War of 1812, it lasted until 1815.
In August 1814, England invaded Washington, D.C., setting fire to the Capitol, White House, and other government buildings. The British then marched to Baltimore, Maryland, and on September 13 began bombarding Fort McHenry.
At that time, attorney Francis Scott Key was aboard a British ship negotiating the release of a friend. Throughout the long night, he watched the attack on Fort McHenry, fearing its fall, but when morning arrived, the American flag was still flying — the fort had survived the attack.
Inspired by these events, Francis Scott Key wrote down a few lines about the attack while still on board the ship and then wrote several more lines after reaching shore. Shortly thereafter they were published as a poem titled “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” Set to music in November of that year, it was named “The Star Spangled Banner.”
Americans know the first verse of this song as it’s what we sing at sporting events or important occasions, but there is religious content that few know about. Notice especially the fourth verse:
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.
Today, let’s celebrate our national anthem in its entirety — an anthem that shows America’s strong foundation of religious faith and something we should all be proud to remember!