In 2014, the United States celebrated the bicentennial of our great anthem, “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As you are more than likely aware, the song was named the official national anthem by act of Congress in 1931. The Choral Journal featured two articles on Francis Scott Key’s great work that readers of ChoralNet might be interested in. One was published in April 2014 titled “A Star-Spangled Bicentennial” and one was published in November 2014 titled “The Star-Spangled Banner as a Poem.” The latter will be the focus of today’s ChoralNet post.
This article is a reprint of an essay written by Eli Siegel in 1953 titled “The Star-Spangled Banner as a Poem” and includes an introduction by Edward Green. Eli Siegel is an American poet and founder of the philosophy Aesthetic Realism. As Green states in his introduction, “The essay stands alone in showing…just how rich the art of Francis Scott Key was. It also points to the ethical meaning of the anthem, including implications for our lives and for our nation now.”
In the essay itself, Siegel writes, “In 1814, ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ was written; and it is my purpose to consider it a poem—belonging to literature. It is difficult for people to see the famous writing of Francis Scott Key as poetry, or as art… It is just as hard to see a work that is too familiar as one that is ‘sprung’ upon us. It is necessary, therefore, to look at ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’ afresh, as sometimes it is necessary to do with the most quoted lines of Hamlet.”
You can read the full article or download the PDF here. (Note: You must be an ACDA member logged into acda.org to view the Choral Journal online.)
Have you ever viewed “The Star-Spangled Banner” as a poem? How do you think this would change the way you perform this work with your choirs?
Feel free to share your thoughts here on ChoralNet in the comment section or even send in a “Letter to the Editor” for publication in an upcoming issue of Choral Journal. I would love to hear from you! Better still, perhaps you should write an article or column in the Choral Journal. You can contact me at .
Choral Journal writing guidelines can be viewed by clicking here.