There is probably no more sincere fan of composer John Williams than yours truly. And, I've been intensely interested in his two solid attempts at arranging Francis Scott Key's The Star-Spangled Banner (2011 for marching band and this year for choir and orchestra at the PBS annual Capitol Fourth celebration).
What concerns me deeply is the unwillingness anyone has to include subsequent stanzas of Francis Scott Key's great poem. While it is true that some of the sections are intensely poetic and hard to use musically, some of the other stanzas are illustrative of the spirit of independence that, fortunately, prevailed in the day. But specifically, the final stanza has impact that nearly every Christian would not want omitted:
Oh! thus be it ever, when free men shall stand/Between their loved home and the war's desolation!/
Blest with victory 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!
Friends, doesn't it's continual omission speak volumes about where we are today as the people of God, a culture and as a nation?
I am grateful that it appears in the Baptist Hymnal 1991 and that we can sing it every year at Parkway Baptist!
Ken Litton is Minister of Music/Worship for the Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis, MO