Star Spangled Banner

Star Spangled Banner

Star Spangled Banner
play music
mute music

Composed by Francis Scott Key, "In Defense of Fort McHenry" in September 1814. Congress proclaimed it the U.S. National Anthem in 1931.

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, thru 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?

On the 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, 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 washed 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 freemen shall stand,
Between their loved home and the war's desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-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!

American Flag
For Kids

2014 marked the 100th birthday of the Star Spangled Banner. Francis Scott Key wrote the words while he looked at a flag flying over Fort McHenry near Baltimore. He set the words to a tune of the time. Instruments were made differently back then. So the music sounded a little different in the 1800s than today.

For Parents

The U.S. was still a young country when it went to war against the British during the War of 1812. Help explain why the war began and what happened by focusing on the national anthem and the original flag that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen his famous lyrics.

For Teachers

Fort McHenry is located in Baltimore, Maryland, near the Patapsco River. Although a small river for most of its length, the Patapsco’s last 10 miles are a large tidal estuary inlet of the Chesapeake Bay. In fact, the Battle of Baltimore was part of a larger campaign in the Bay from 1813 to 1815, as described in this National Park Service video.

Fort McHenry Talk Trailer: War on the Chesapeake