Thursday, January 13, 2011

O, say can you see...

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Okay, I must be feeling sappy.

I broke out into song (not an uncommon occurrence in my family) and it happened to be our national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner.  As I was singing, I started thinking about how much of it must sound like a foreign language to my kids, due to the uncommon words and arrangement.  And then I got to thinking about the words themselves. And I started tearing up.

Yes, I was near crying over our national anthem.

But really - think about them. Can you imagine what it must have felt like to be the writer of the lyrics (Francis Scott Key), wondering how the battle you were watching would end, wondering if, when the sun rose, you would see an American flag flying, or the flag of the enemy?  And then, the joy at knowing your fellow countrymen had indeed succeeded?

Putting my self in the place of the voice of the song gives me a different pespective.

Randomly - reading the lyrics, singing only the first verse sure seems incomplete.  It ends on an unanswered question, although we tend to sing it as a statement.

Here are they lyrics (we mostly know the first verse, but the fourth is quite powerful, too.

Check over at Wikipedia for more history of the song.

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;
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, 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, 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 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!


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