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[Detail] Let me kiss him for his mother

Patriotic Songs

Francis Scott Key's "Star Spangled Banner," is a fixture at public ceremonies, sporting events, and other community events. Before its official adoption as the National Anthem in 1931, however, Key's poem shared the unofficial title of "national" song with "Hail Columbia, Happy Land!"

Hail Columbia! happy land! hail, ye heroes! heaven-born band!
Who faught and bled in Freedom's cause,
Who faught and bled in Freedom's cause,
And when the storm of war was gone, enjoyed the peace your valor won.
Let independence be our boast, ever mindful what it cost;
Ever grateful for the prize, let its alter reach the skies.

Firm united let us be, rallying round our liberty;
As a band of brothers joined, peace and safety we shall find.

Both of these songs were originally poems that were later set to music. Subsequent verses of the "Star Spangled Banner," however, are not as familiar as the first. For example, the second of four parts elaborates on the flag of the title.

On the shore, dimly seen through the mist 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.

Other patriotic standards in this collection include the "Original Yankee Doodle Dandy" and the "Battle Hymn of the Republic."

  • What types of images are used in these songs to create a sense of patriotism?
  • How do the two poems differ in their style and tone?
  • Why do you think that these poems were set to music?
  • Why do you think that only the first verse of the "Star Spangled Banner" is usually performed at public events?
  • What are the differences in how these four patriotic songs are used? When do you generally hear these songs? How do they reflect certain public sentiments or themes?
  • Why do you think that "Star Spangled Banner" and "Hail Columbia, Happy Land!" were deemed to be appropriate "national anthems"?
  • What kind of melody do you think is appropriate for a National Anthem?
  • Why do you think that the "Star Spangled Banner" was chosen to be the official National Anthem?
  • How might the nation's patriotic language and symbolism at public events have changed if "Hail Columbia . . ." had been selected as the National Anthem?