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The Star-Spangled Banner

This song, familiar to every American, was written by Francis Scott Key, while on board the British frigate "Surprise" in the harbor of Baltimore, in 1814. The War of 1812 was still in progress. The British had laid siege to Baltimore and were directing their guns upon Fort McHenry. The flag on the fort could be distinctly seen through the earlier hours of the night by the glare of the battle; but the firing finally ceased, and the prisoners anxiously waited for the morning to see whether the colors still floated from the ramparts. Key's feelings found expression in "The Star-Spangled Banner," which he wrote hastily on the back of an old letter.

Oh, 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 rocket's 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?

On that 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, now conceals, now discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines on 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.

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 should 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.

Oh, thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
      Between their loved homes and war's desolation.
Blest with victory and peace, may the Heaven-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.

Source: Baldwin's Readers
Fourth Grade, Page 176

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