O say, can you [really] see?

As our national anthem has been front and center in the news these days, I feel that it is important to take a closer look into what we are singing about. After all, this is the soundtrack of our Nation, our founding identity…our freedom cry!

Here are the lyrics:

The Star Spangled Banner
By Francis Scott Key (1814), music by John Stafford Smith (1773)

O say can you see, by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hail’d at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight
O’er the ramparts we watch’d were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bomb bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there,
O say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

We sing this anthem before and during sporting events, but do we understand it? Can we truly respect what it’s really all about? Sadly, I think that for [some], they simply don’t see. Therefore, we need to look at the entire song in order to grasp the full measure of all that our anthem is about. – “What, there is more to our national anthem?” Why yes!

Our national anthem actually has four stanzas.  However, I suppose that singing all of it would get rather long, especially during the Olympics! Therefore, we just stuck with singing the first stanza. And, it’s a great stanza! Yet, to skip the rest of the anthem is actually doing ourselves [as Americans] a tragic disservice.

As you will read below, the remaining three stanzas truly add a powerful new layer of understanding to that which we currently sing:

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream,
‘Tis the star-spangled banner – O long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore,
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion
A home and a Country should leave us no more?
Their blood has wash’d out their foul footstep’s pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave,
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
Between their lov’d 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 preserv’d 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.


It is clear by reading these lyrics that the foundation undergirding our national anthem comes from a reliance on God, not on something that we have done. Thus, “God is our trust,” not man! God is the One who gives us the victories and secures our freedoms. – Yes, we still stand up, sacrifice, and fight; but our battles and freedoms are ultimately won by and from God.

We need to remember that our Declaration of Independence [July 4, 1776] further reminds us that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The Declaration ends by stating, “And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.

Today we have people sitting down and protesting our national anthem. I suppose that in the land of the free you are free to do just that. However, what these people appear to fail to realize is that they are not only disrespecting our anthem, but also our Country, and the many men and women who have paid the ultimate sacrifice over the centuries for our Country and our [and their] freedoms.

Ultimately though, this disrespect is against God. We ask God to “bless America” while we selfishly push Him away and impose that “our kingdom come, our will be done.” How arrogant!

We have fought for and have been blessed with so much in America. Let’s not lose sight of that! The least we can do is stand for our national anthem and honor God by honoring the land of the free and the home of the brave.

God bless,
Will Hoyler

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