The first verse of The Star-Spangled Banner is difficult, but what most Americans aren’t aware of is that there are actually three more verses to the anthem. The 3 Forgotten Verses to The National Anthem lyrics USA are most often omitted in performances. This post contains some affiliate links.
Even Americans who know the first verse, struggle with remembering the words, singing in tune, or any tune, and often miss out on understanding the intriguing meaning behind the words and phrases.
Why it’s Important to Be Aware of The 3 Forgotten Verses To The National Anthem USA? In my post, “Was I an Ugly American Abroad” I shared a personal experience where I was tested and asked to sing all four verses of my National Anthem and why being aware of them is important.
Meaning Behind the Words and Phrases:
In 1814, Francis Scott Key, American lawyer, was captive aboard a British ship and wrote a poem which explained his patriotic feelings while watching the battle of Baltimore, “Defence of Fort McHenry” which later was renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner.” I gifted a Star-Spangled Banner book to several friends and students from an American citizenship class that I taught. This book is also good to read with kids, to learn the words and the meaning of the words.
“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?“ The flag was 30 feet by 42 feet, big enough to be seen by all British in the distance, several miles away. The “perilous fight” was the Battle of Baltimore. “Over the ramparts” (battlements) at the fort. Key was sure the British would win but as the night passed but by “the dawn’s early light” he saw the American Flag still flying over the fort, not the British Union Jack flag.
“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?” Through the night, Key wrote that he watched the sky “vomiting shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone” as the British attacked Fort McHenry. The rockets and bombs lit the sky which “Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.” “Land of the free” the fight for independence from the British.
More Star-Spangled Banner Educational Points
While celebrating the 4th of July, in addition to explaining the national anthem to kids, here are some other educational points that can be added to this holiday.
The President Serving in Office in 1814 was James Madison, the 4th American President who served in office from March 4, 1809, to March 4, 1817. James Madison can be found on the 2007-dollar coin, some 1993 commemorative coins, and the $5000 United States Banknote.
It wasn’t until almost 100 years later, on March 3, 1931, by President Herbert Hoover that The Star-Spangled Banner Lyrics were officially made the national anthem. Herbert Hoover served in office from March 4, 1929, to March 4, 1933. He is America’s 31st president and took office the year the U.S. economy plummeted into the Great Depression in 1929.
The trail covers Washington D.C., Virginia, and Maryland. Fort McHenry (Fort Henry is in Baltimore, in Chesapeake Bay, Maryland.
To see the actual flag that Key saw and wrote about that morning in 1814 must be a powerful image. How amazing to view such a national symbol and experience what emotions or ideas would stir up in the individual viewing.
5 Other wonderful songs to listen to while celebrating The Fourth of July and books to read:
1) “America the Beautiful”
2) “This Land is Your Land” by Woodie Guthrie. These books make for wonderful gifts to friends and family. My mother gifted my children and her other grandchildren the book with CD “This Land is Your Land.”
3) My Pop-up World Atlas
4) The Story of The Star-Spangled Banner This sweet little board book, ages birth to 7, is a nice way to introduce the story of how the National Anthem came to be written and the words to the National Anthem lyrics USA.
5) Great for teaching kids 5th-8th grade but I have also used the following two books with my preschooler and second grader to review geography, literature, and history studied at school or while we were homeschooling.
America the Beautiful Lesson Review is a book of daily lesson review questions, literature review questions, and weekly quizzes.
Maps of America the Beautiful: Coloring and activities offered for different states and themes of states along with lessons studied in the Lesson Review Book.
I personally have added the Walk The Star-Spangled Banner National Historic Trail to my bucket list.
Have you walked this trail?
Did you know about The 3 Forgotten Verses to The National Anthem USA, National Anthem Lyrics USA?