On September 14, 1814 after spending the night under British guardpenned a poem he titled the “Defence of Fort McHenry”. Key’s brother in law had copies printed and distributed all over Baltimore and the poem later appeared in several newspapers, two of which have survived the ravages of time. The poem was then put to the tune “Anacreon in Heaven”, the theme song for the the Anacreontic Club of London – a club that consisted of wealthy men who celebrated music, food, and drink.
When a Baltimore actor first performed the new composition in October, it was called “The Star Spangled Banner”. In 1931 Congress passed a law proclaiming the song as the nation’s anthem.
For the past several years when the national anthem has been performed at sporting events music celebrities of every type have sung, crooned, and butchered the nation’s song. A recent article in “Parade” magazine asked whether or not it is time to change the national anthem.
If the penning of a new national song was dependent on the current crop of “hit songwriters” the answer would have to be a resounding no; but fortunately there is a better alternative. Those who propose a new national anthem also suggest that the current “Star Spangled Banner” be replaced with “America the Beautiful” – a song that whose lyrics was penned by New England poet Katharine Lee Bates and expounds on the beauty of the American countryside.