Tuesday, August 27, 2013


        Why can't those who sing our National Anthem at sporting events and on other occasions sing it the way it was written? I get so tired of hearing those who are given the honor of singing The Star Spangled Banner at the start of a World Series game or the Super Bowl or some college football or basketball game massacre the inspiring melody of the song for which we Americans are supposed to rise to our feet in solemn respect.
Artist's rendering of  the flag over Fort Mchenry
        Instead of being inspired I am more often than not infuriated by the end of the song. What a difference between the stirring strains of the military band arrangements I saluted to when I was in the Navy and the vocal meandering of most of the soloists who perform the National Anthem these days. One wonders how they dare to desecrate the beautiful poem written by Francis Scott Key during the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British in 1814. What an appropriate twist of irony that it should come to be associated with the stirring song by British composer John Stafford Smith. Thus the words of our National Anthem celebrate one of our legendary victories over Great Britain in the War of 1812, while the music symbolizes the strong alliance that since then has existed between our two nations.
        We traditionally sing only the first stanza of the song, but my favorite stanza is the fourth and last, which reads as follows:
                 O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
                 Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
                 Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n rescued land
                 Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
                 Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
                 And this be our motto: "In God is our trust."
                 And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
                 O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.  
        The melody is admittedly difficult to sing, with an octave-and-a-half range that challenges many soloists. That may explain why some of them sing their own tune ---to avoid having to hit and to hold the high notes! When it is sung right, audiences invariably express their appreciation by cheering and applauding vigorously.
        Their celebrity status might earn some vocalists a polite response from their fans, but not a very enthusiastic one from those who love and appreciate our National Anthem, and who expect it to be sung the way it is written.
Marnie and Gray have two very cute little 
boys, Gabey (3) and Julian (3 months).
        My granddaughter-in-law, Marnie Kanarek, who has a lovely voice and had planned on a career in music before switching to medicine, was invited to sing the National Anthem at the start of the last home game of the regular season of the Philadelphia Soul arena football team last month. They were playing the Utah Blaze. Her husband Gray (our grandson) video-taped Marnie's a cappella performance, and if you listen closely you can hear her Mom say excitedly at the very end of the video, "My daughter!"
        If you want to hear the National Anthem sung as it should be sung, click HERE. Note the reaction of the fans and that of the players, as Marnie hits her high note at the end of the song, her one thrilling departure from the written melody. That dramatic note, that sopranos often insert, represents a two octave range. It does not detract from but adds to the inspiring impact of The Star Spangled Banner


  1. What a beautiful, respectful, patriotic performance by your granddaughter-in-law! This was one of the best renditions I have heard, and I have listened to many both live and on YouTube. I agree with everything you said in your post - and I share your love for the fourth stanza.
    A few weeks ago we visited Fort McHenry and were reminded of the history of this great song. It was inspiring!

  2. Thank you, John. I shall pass on your gracious comments to Marnie.
    Margie and I have visited Fort McHenry several times and recommended it to friends. It's a relatively undiscovered gem. Best regards to you and Mary.

  3. Finally, a beautiful rendition of our National Anthem! Your granddaughter-in-law has a lovely voice! Hopefully she will share her talent for many years (and games) to come! There are very few times I have felt the "chills" one gets when this anthem is done well. This was one of them.

    Sandy McCormick