Posted: September 17th, 2017

Time for an Anthem the Country can Sing

Paper Details:


(1) “Time for an Anthem the Country can Sing” (by Shelby Wilson)

The music was composed as a drinking song for an 18th-century London social club. The words were written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key to commemorate a battle. And on March 3, 1931, “The Star-Spangled Banner” officially became the national anthem of the United States. Ever since then, people have been complaining that the tune is unsingable and the lyrics are offensive. In response to these complaints, a bill was recently filed in Congress to replace “The Star-Spangled Banner” with “America the Beautiful” as our national anthem. For a number of reasons, this bill deserves wide support.

“The Star-Spangled Banner” can be as painful to listen to as it is difficult to sing. Even professional singers have difficulty with its 12-note span, rumbling at “Oh! say, can you see” and screeching at “the rockets’ red glare.” In a way, however, such rumbles and screeches are fitting, for the lyrics are bloody, confusing, and war-stained. Does anyone really believe that red rockets and bursting bombs express the true spirit of America?…. Over the years, other songs have been recommended as replacements, but most of these are just as inappropriate as the present anthem. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic,” for instance, is also a war tune, and John Philip Sousa’s stirring march “The Stars and Stripes Forever” has no lyrics at all.

“My Country ‘Tis of Thee” is sweet and dignified, but the music belongs to the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen.” And finally, among recent contenders, Bruce Springsteen’s “Born in the U.S.A.” has a terrific beat, but its lyrics are better suited to a requiem than to an anthem…. Clearly, “America the Beautiful” deserves to be our national anthem. For years now, it has been gaining popularity in school assemblies, at official state functions, and even in our ball parks. The music is simple, dignified, and–most important–easy to sing. The lyrics celebrate our history (“O beautiful for pilgrim feet . . .”), our land (“For purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain”), our heroes (“Who more than self their country loved”), and our future (“That sees beyond the years”). It is proud but not warlike, idealistic without sounding silly.

Oh! say, it’s time “The Star-Spangled Banner” was put to rest. Surely our flag will continue to wave “O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave” without benefit of this windy tune. Let us have a national anthem that the whole country can sing. Let us sing, with pride, “America the Beautiful.” (If you do not know these songs, look them up)

Directions: Write a one-page essay in response to this proposal. Take a position—you can agree or disagree, but elaborate your position clearly & logically, not emotionally. Be specific and clear, not subjective or emotional. Do not ramble.


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