In memory of… Anacreon?

When Francis Scott Key wrote the words to the Star Spangled Banner, how would he have felt if he had known that his words would not only be immortalized as our national anthem, but also set to the tune of a bawdy British drinking song?

The same melody we sing at the beginning of each ball game was written by the president of the Anacreontic Club in London. Its original lyrics, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” addressed the Greek poet Anacreon, famous for his poems on women, love and wine (full lyrics here).

May our Club flourish happy, united and free! 
And long may the Sons of ANACREON intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS’S Vine.

Something just seems funny about the fact that Woodrow Wilson chose to pair Key’s timeless words with an unsavory British tune and declare it our national anthem. It’s sort of akin to some of Luther’s most popular Protestant hymns, tunes “borrowed” from his archenemy, the Catholic Church.

There’s a lot to be said for stopping. Taking time to think about why we do the things we do each day. It’s time to think about why we celebrate Independence Day and why we should think of it more than once a year. Some things are worth caring about. This is one of them.

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