United States of America

The Star-Spangled Banner

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The Star-Spangled Banner takes its melody from 'The Anacreontic Song', a British drinking song, and its words from the poem 'Defence of Fort McHenry'. It is renowned as a difficult anthem to sing, requiring a vocal range of one-and-a-half octaves.

The anthem is one of the most widely-interpreted national anthems in the world, and versions of the anthem in a multitude of styles have been performed and recorded. Normally, only the first verse of the full anthem is performed, although the final (fourth) verse is occasionally added in more formal and ceremonial contexts.

Before the adoption of The Star-Spangled Banner as anthem in 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom, including Hail, Columbia and My Country, 'Tis of Thee.


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?


John Stafford Smith
Francis Scott Key
Music: 1780, Lyrics: 1814, Adopted: 1931
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