The Star Spangled Banner

1814
Words by Francis Scott Key, Music by John Stafford Smith  

Lee Greenwood singing The Star Spangled Banner

O 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, through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s 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 in 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 homes and the war’s desolation!
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heaven-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!


About the Song

The Inspiration
The song of our nation was penned by Washington attorney Francis Scott Key at a dramatic moment during the War of 1812. On the night of September 13, 1814, Key watched as our country was attacked by the British navy at Fort McHenry . After watching the rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air throughout the night, dawn broke. Key was expecting to find Baltimore firmly under British control, but was stunned to see a battered but still flying American flag waving in the sunrise. So inspired was Key that he wrote the poem that was to become our National Anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Set to a tune composed by John Stafford Smith, the song became America 's national anthem in 1931.

Note: Early manuscripts of the lyrics have many inconsistencies with punctuation and even spelling. The lyrics reproduced on this site use punctuation and spelling found in very early versions. As for whether to use a hyphen in the title or not, most sheet music you see will have “The Star Spangled Banner” as the title. However, in recent years, “The Star-Spangled Banner” has become the preferred spelling for usage within text. Therefore, when printing the lyrics, we use “The Star Spangled Banner”, but when writing about the anthem, we use “The Star-Spangled Banner”. 

The Code for the NationalAnthem  of the United States of America