The Life and Times of the Star-Spangled Banner


Star Spangled Banner. Variations from Sonneck. The elements in the introduction are taken from various sources, including Sonneck, Meyer, Delaplaine, and Borneman.

When the Warrior Returns. Words from Johns and Taney. See also Fuld.

To Anacreon in Heaven. Words and tune from Sonneck, Muller and numerous other sources.

Adams and Liberty. Words from Rabson and other sources. Tune is Anacreon. See also Muller.

The Congress. Words: Rabson. Tune: Simpson. Nancy Dawson words: Simpson.

Ye Parliament of England. Words and tune: Boni.

The Battle of the Wabash. Words and tune: Muller

Death's Gloomy Angel. In Muller.

Paul Jones. Rabson.

An Appeal to Loyalists. Rabson.

Newgate's Garland. Gay, Selected Works.

Hail Columbia. Sonneck.

America. Sonneck

Yankee Doodle. Sonneck.

God Bless America. Various sources

This Land is Your Land. Leventhal and Guthrie.

America the Beautiful. Sherr.

God Save the King. Various sources.

O Canada! Various sources.

Waltzing Matilda.


Boni, Margaret, The Fireside Book of Favorite American Songs, 1952, Simon and Schuster.

Borneman, Walter, 1812, The War that Forged a Nation, 2004, Harper. A very readable history of the War of 1812. What did the War of 1812 accomplish? Before the War of 1812, Americans referred to "these United States." After the war, they referred to "this United States." In other words, the close alliance of states became a single nation. Did we need a war to do that?

Bristow, Michael, National Anthems of the World, 2006, Weidenfeld & Nicolson. All of the world's national anthems.

Chappell, W, Old English Popular Music, 1840. Reprinted, 1961, Jack Brussel.

Delaplaine, Edward, Francis Scott Key, Life and Times, Originally published, 1937, Republished, American Foundation Publications (1998). A detailed, if rose-colored, biography of Key.

Fielding, Henry, Jonathan Wild. This is a work of fiction and should not be taken as history. It is one of the earliest examples of satire in the English language novel; in it, Jonathan Wild is a model for the Great Man.

Fuld, James, The Book of World-Famous Music, Classical, Popular and Folk, 1966, Crown Publishers. The excellent article on The Star-Spangled Banner was my first hint that there was more to the story than I knew.

Guthrie, Woody, Bound for Glory, 1970, Signet. Guthrie's autobiography.

Howson, Gerald, The Thief-taker General, The Rise and Fall Of Jonathan Wild, 1970, Hutchinson. The story of Jonathan Wild in glorious detail.

Johns, Henry and Taney, Roger, Poems of the Late Francis Scott Key, 1856, reprinted by Kessinger Press. Yes, the same Chief Justice Roger Taney who wrote the Dred Scott decision. He was a law partner and brother-in-law to Key.

Kaskowitz, Sheryl, God Bless America: The Surprising History of an Iconic Song, 2013, Oxford University Press. The subtitle says it all.

Leventhal, Harold and Guthrie, Marjorie, The Woody Guthrie Songbook. 1976, Ludlow. NOTICE! All songs in this book are filed in alphabetical order. Put them back the same way. And be sure you put them back. Signed, a desperate man, Woody Guthrie.

Lord, Walter, Dawn's Early Light, 1972, Norton. A history of the summer of 1814, focusing on the burning of Washington and the attack on Baltimore. Lots of detail about the lives of many of the people involved.

Mahon, John, The War of 1812, 1972, University of Florida Press.

Meyer, Sam, Paradoxes of Fame, The Francis Scott Key Story, 1995, Eastwind Publishing.

Miller, Francesca, 1812: The Story of the War of 1812 in Song and Story, 1935, Bauman, Chicago. Reprinted by Kessinger.

Moore, Frank, Songs and Ballads of the American Revolution, originally published in 1855, Appleton and Company.

Muller, Joseph, The Star Spangled Banner, Words and Music Issued Between 1814-1864, 1973, Da Capo Press.

Rabson, Caroline, Songbook of the American Revolution, 1974. This is the source for several of the songs in this book. It is also the only place that I have seen the observation that Anacreon and Packington's Pound have the same meter. She states this in an endnote to Paul Jones: "The particular form of the verses indicates 'To Anacreon in Heaven' as the most likely tune to which the song was set. (The only other ballad tune I have found to fit this unusual verse structure is 'Packington's Pound'.)"

Sherr, Lynn, America the Beautiful, 2001. A very thorough history of everything about America the Beautiful. The author was a student at the school the Bates helped found, and clearly has a deep love for the song.

Simpson, Claude, The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music, 1966, Rutgers, Source of information about Packinton's Pound. A great collection of tunes from the broadside era.

Sonneck, Oscar, Report on The Star Spangled Banner, Hail Columbia, America, and Yankee Doodle, 1908. When congress was considering what song should be chosen as the national anthem, it commissioned the Librarian of Congress, Oscar Sonneck, to research these four major candidates. Just about the only significant information missing from this report is any discussion of the song, When the Warrior Returns, which, as we have seen, was almost a first draft of The Star-Spangled Banner.