The 206th anniversary of “The Star Spangled Banner” is Monday, Sept. 14, so in honor of the historic song, here are seven facts you probably did not know about it.
1. It took more than 100 years for the song to become the national anthem of the United States.
Although Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics during the Battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore on Sept. 14, 1814, it didn’t become the national anthem until March 3, 1931. That’s when President Herbert Hoover signed a Congressional resolution officially making “The Star Spangled Banner” the national anthem of the United States. Each March 3 now is known as National Anthem Day.
2. The song wasn’t originally called “The Star Spangled Banner", and it’s actually set to a popular song from the day.
According to History.com, Key specified the lyrics were intended to be sung to a song called “To Anacreon in Heaven", which ironically, was something of a British drinking tune. Key didn’t originally have a name for the lyrics, but they were published under the title “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” It didn’t get the name change to “The Star Spangled Banner” until it was printed as sheet music.
3. The song actually has four verses.
The version sung at patriotic events and before sporting events is actually just the first verse of the song. However, all four verses do end with “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
4. Today’s version is much different than the original.
The song originally was intended for a group of people to sing together. Today, “The Star-Spangled Banner” is often sung by a soloist, and the pace and general tempo often is much slower than it was originally.
5. It’s considered one of the most difficult songs to sing well.
Although nearly every American is very familiar with the lyrics and melody, the anthem is considered extremely difficult to master, even for experienced singers.
6. The song was first sung at a sporting event in 1918.
It wasn’t even designated as the national anthem when it was first played. According to History.com, the U.S. Navy band began to play it during the seventh-inning stretch of Game 1 of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the Chicago Cubs on Sept. 5, 1918. It was played every game for the rest of that series and slowly began to be played at other sporting events until it became common practice.
7. Francis Scott Key wasn’t actually overly musical.
Instead, he was a lawyer. According to History.com, he served in President Andrew Jackson’s “Kitchen Cabinet” and ran a law practice. He was appointed a United States Attorney in 1833 and prosecuted hundreds of cases. So, as far as much goes, he was pretty much a one-hit wonder.