Familiar Songs - Their Authors & Histories

300 traditional songs, inc sheet music with full piano accompaniment & lyrics.

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Next
592
OUR FAMILIAR SONGS
Should the tempest of war overshadow our land,
Its bolts could ne'er rend Freedom's temple asunder; For unmoved at its portals would Washington stand, And repulse with his breast the assaults of the thunder: Of its scabbard would leap, His sword from the sleep And conduct, with its point, every flash to the deep! For ne'er shall the sons, etc.
THE STAR-SPANGLED BANNER.
Francis Scott Key, author of the words of " The Star-Spangled Banner," was born in Frederick County, Maryland, August 1, 1779. His family were among the earliest settlers, and his father was an officer in the Eevolutionary army. Francis was educated at St. John's College, Annapolis, and became a lawyer in his native town. He wrote several lyrics, with no thought of publication. They were scrawled upon the backs of letters and so many odd scraps of paper that the sequence of the verses was a puzzle to the friends who, after his death, attempted to gather all that had been written by the author of our national song. Mr. Key was District Attorney of Washington, D. C, and died in that city, January 11, 1843.
During the war of 1812-'15, when the British fleet lay in Chesapeake Bay, Mr. Key went out from Baltimore in a small boat, under a flag of truce, to ask the release of a friend, a civilian, who had been captured. Lord Cockburn had just completed his plans for an attack upon Fort McHenry, and instead of releasing one, he retained both. The bombardment of the fort was begun on the morning of the 13th of September, 1814, and continued for twenty-four hours. Key's little boat lay moored to the commander's vessel, and through a day and a night, exposed to fire from his friends, he watched the flag which Lord Cockburn had boasted would " yield in a few hours." As the morning of the 14th broke, he saw it still waving in its familiar place. Then, as his fashion was, he snatched an old letter from his pocket, and laying it on a barrel-head, gave vent to his delight in the spirited song which he entitled " The defence of Fort McHenry." " The Star-Spangled Banner" was printed within a week in the Baltimore Patriot, under the title of " The Defence of Fort McHenry," and found its way immediately into the camps of our army. Ferdinand Durany, who belonged to a dramatic company, and had played in a Baltimore theatre with John Howard Payne, read the poem effectively to the soldiers encamped in that city, who were expecting another attack. They begged him to set the words to music, and he hunted up the old air of " Adams and Liberty," sefr the words to it, and sang it to the soldiers, who caught it up amid tremendous applause. Durany died in Baltimore in 1815.
The Washington National Intelligencer of January 6, 1815, has this advertisement conspicuously displayed on the editorial page :
S TAR SPANGLED BANNER and YE SEAMEN OF COLUMBIA— Tvo favorite patriotic songs, this day received and for sale by RICHARDS & MALLORY, Bridge Street, Georgetown.
It is said that the particular flag which inspired the song was a new one that Gen. George Armistead, the defender of Fort McHenry, had had made to replace the old one, which was badly tattered. The new Danner was flung to the breeze for the first time on the morning that his daughter Georgeanna was born, which event took place within the








E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III