As a believer in keeping church and state separate, I have been keeping track of the argument for and against keeping the words “under God” in our Pledge of Allegiance. So this week I was going to discuss our Pledge of Allegiance and its history regarding that phrase. However, something very interesting came along instead that might fit in with this argument. It concerns our national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.
You see, recently, a friend of mine told me he wants to have an a cappella group sing our national anthem at the Rock Beyond Belief (RBB) festival in Fayetteville, North Carolina this Spring. Most people are familiar and can sing the first verse of our anthem, but how many knew there is more than one verse? Or can recite them? I polled family and friends about this and was met with many blank stares. So I decided to look up all the verses.
The first verse is usually the one everyone hears and sings at ballgames, etc. The last one stood out because of what it says. Here is the last verse. The bold is mine.
“Oh, thus be it ever when free men shall stand,
Between their loved homes and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Power that has made and preserved us as a nation.
Then conquer we must, when our cause 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.” – France Scott Key
Rock Beyond Belief is a secular festival that I wrote a previous article on a few weeks ago. When I discovered the words to the last verse, I thought how strange that a secular festival will sing our national anthem when the last verse is full of references to God. But I guess it really doesn’t matter, as the first verse is key (pun intended).
Some interesting background on our anthem that few people seem to be aware of that I thought I’d share.