In 1780, John Stafford Smith wrote the constitutional song of the Anacreaontic Society of London. Ralph Tomlinson a President of the society wrote the words to the song. For a bit of time it was a popular drinking song. It probably would not be familiar to you and me except for the familiar tune. Take a listen here:
Anacreon recording is performed by John Townley from The Top Hits Of 1776 on Adelphi Records.
I presume you recognize the tune of the drinking song. The tune was used in the 18th and 19th centuries a lot with the lyrics changing to fit the affairs of the time.
Most of us should be familiar with the history of fort McHenry and its role in the War of 1812 when Baltimore Harbor was successfully defended from an attack by the British navy on September 13 and 14th in 1814. We all learned in our school history classes (hopefully) that while observing the bombardment of the fort Francis Scott Key wrote the poem (Defence of Fort M’Henry) that was to become our nations National Anthem. The poem was then set to the tune of Smith’s “To Anacreon in Heaven” and its title soon changed to to The Star Spangled Banner.
President Woodrow Wilson gave the U.S. Bureau of Education the duty to provide an official version of the Star Spangled Banner. The Bureau enlisted the help of five musicians Walter Damrosch, Will Earhart, Arnold J. Gantvoort, Oscar Sonneck, and John Philip Sousa deliver the arrangement. In 1889, Secretary of the Navy Benjamin F. Tracy signed General Order #374, making “The Star-Spangled Banner” the official tune to be played at the raising of the flag. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson ordered that “The Star-Spangled Banner” be played at military and other appropriate occasions. President Herbert Hoover signed a law adopting The Star Spangled Banner as the national anthem of the United States of America.
I do not know about you but our nations anthem has to be one the most near impossible songs to sing. I know the tune, I know the words, but seriously, it is an odd day out when I can get through it without stumbling on the words trying to muddle through the tune. If the lyrics were set to a drinking song, why not choose one of the easier old sea shanties – chanted, with emphasis on a syllable or word. Perhaps they saw the future where thousands of people gathered in a coliseum drinking beer signalling the games beginning by singing the tune.
This post is getting long but if you are so inclined here is a sampling of versions of the anthem.
The Star Spangled Banner
1898 Souza band played on a 1913 Victor Victrola model X:
1991 Whitney Houston Super Bowl XXV :
2014 A modern interpretation by Madison Rising. They performed a shortened version at the Nascar Nationwide Series season opener at Daytona.
And of course our friend Reyna! @ age 11