Saturday, July 5, 2008

A Scarred, Mangled Banner

You call it our "National Anthem." My Church calls it a "National Song."

1. 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 rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

2. 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! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

3. 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!

4. 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!

--Francis Scott Key (1779-1843)

The scarring and mangling began with the deletion of three fourths of the poem in becoming what most people outside of the Episcopal Church recognize as the National Anthem. Now what is so wrong with verses 2-3 that they are not included in the Episcopal Hymnal of 1982? When did all this begin? This week, I have seen where it will all end as a singer switched the words and used this in Denver Colorado.
Lift ev'ry voice and sing,
Till earth and heaven ring.
Ring with the harmonies of Liberty;
Let our rejoicing rise,
High as the list'ning skies,
Let it resound loud as the rolling sea.
Sing a song full of the faith that the dark past has taught us,
Sing a song full of the hope that the present has brought us;
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,
Let us march on till victory is won.

Stony the road we trod,
Bitter the chast'ning rod,
Felt in the days when hope unborn had died;
Yet with a steady beat,
Have not our weary feet,
Come to the place for which our fathers sighed?
We have come over a way that with tears has been watered,
We have come, treading our path through the blood of the slaughtered,
Out from the gloomy past,
Till now we stand at last
Where the white gleam of our bright star is cast.

God of our weary years,
God of our silent tears,
Thou who has brought us thus far on the way;
Thou who has by Thy might,
Led us into the light,
Keep us forever in the path, we pray.
Lest our feet stray from the places, our God, where we met Thee,
Lest our hearts, drunk with the wine of the world, we forget Thee,
Shadowed beneath thy hand,
May we forever stand,
True to our God,
True to our native land.

According to Wikipedia, usually only the first verse is sung which makes for another editorial question. Do you find anything offensive in verses 2 or 3?

My next question is this. When will "Lift Every Voice and Sing" make it into the Episcopal Hymnal, and where will it be placed in respect to the other National "Songs?"

Maybe we should just go back to the 1826 Hymnal and stop arguing.


Perpetua said...

I guess you didn't ask about verse 4 because it is so obvious what is offensive:
"Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,"

Wallace H. Hartley said...

It would be looked upon by certain types as a call for Imperial America to go looking for "just causes." That would definitely make some cross their fingers if they were asked to sing along. Striking the verse is consistant with the quaisi-evangelism that the Episcopal Church is famous for, you know the stereotype, "we are fully inclusive of all those who agree with us."