God Rest Ye, Merry Gentlemen - Jars of Clay - listen now

Tuesday, July 4, 2006

July 4th

To me, our flag is never more beautiful than when it has survived, whether that be a bombardment like Fort McHenry or a cowardly attack like Nine-Eleven. A tear or a tatter, a rip or a smudge, it doesn't matter. The beauty is never diminished.

Most of us only know the first stanza of the Star Spangled Banner, but the rest of the anthem is just as stirring, in fact the last three verses are the most important. The first is a question, "does that star spangled banner still wave o'er the land of the free and the home of the brave? The last three are the answer. Some say these verses are too militant, to violent. I say they recall the resolve and defiance our nation was built on. It wouldn't hurt us to get some of that determination back, and to remind our enemies that the answer to the question, was a resounding yes. So here is the anthem in its entirety, with my favorite verses highlighted:

The Star-Spangled Banner

—Francis Scott Key, 1814

O say, can you see, by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hail'd at the twilight's last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' 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 thro' 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 on 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 wash'd 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 free-men 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 Pow'r 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!

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