Has your loved one come home reporting to you that our National Anthem is a drinking song? You know, images of steins raised, boots on the furniture, and a party in power mode. You might be stunned, not knowing how to defend The Star Spangled Banner, a song that’s heard weekly, if not more often, in this nation. (One group of 93 television stations has returned to the daily practice of ending the broadcast day at 4 a.m. with our National Anthem).
Supposedly, the blame is placed on the shoulders of Francis Scott Key. Was he, in fact, short of time or out of ideas, so he borrowed—wait for it—a British drinking song as a tune for his lyrics? Let’s set the record straight….
Know what a “contrafactum” is? Sounds all medical, doesn’t it? Actually, it’s a musical term that denotes different song written to the tune of the same melody. Try this: Sing the “Alphabet Song. Now hum “Baa Baa Black Sheep,” and Twinkle Twinkle Little Star.” Got the idea? Same tune, different lyrics. “My Country’ Tis of Thee” was one of the predecessors to our National Anthem. It is to the tune of “God Save the Queen.” So there you go! “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written to the melody of “To Anacreon In Heaven,” a song that had 1 line referring to relations between 2 mythological figures-a god and a goddess. Here’s the repetitive line: “The Myrtle of Venus and Bacchus’s Vine.” That right there, fellow Americans, is the source of the accusation that our National Anthem is a former drinking song.
Francis Scott Key saw the U.S. flag waving over Fort McHenry at dawn during the War of 1812. You see, Key was a lawyer and former captive. He was negotiating the release of his friend, who was being held prisoner. When Key saw the Stars and Stripes waving victoriously over the Fort, he was moved to write the lyrics we sing today as our National Anthem.
It is amazing to me that one line could move an entire generation to put down the National Anthem by suggesting you and I are singing a drinking dirge.
Next time someone challenges your patriotism with an unpatriotic statement, take a moment to think it through. Don’t merely accept everything you hear. It takes only a moment to do a search for facts from trusted sources. Meanwhile, I’m going to continue singing “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a proud American. That’s Common Sense Civics and Citizenship.