July 5, 2004

Then conquer we must, for our cause is just,  And this be our motto--"In God is our trust."...

I recommend this little piece, by Isaac Asimov, on our national anthem. Here's a snippet:

I have a weakness--I am crazy, absolutely nuts, about our national anthem.

The words are difficult and the tune is almost impossible, but frequently when I'm taking a shower I sing it with as much power and emotion as I can. It shakes me up every time.

I was once asked to speak at a luncheon. Taking my life in my hands, I announced I was going to sing our national anthem--all four stanzas.

This was greeted with loud groans. One man closed the door to the kitchen, where the noise of dishes and cutlery was loud and distracting. "Thanks, Herb," I said.

"That's all right," he said. "It was at the request of the kitchen staff."

I explained the background of the anthem and then sang all four stanzas. 

Let me tell you, those people had never heard it before--or had never really listened. I got a standing ovation. But it was not me; it was the anthem....(Thanks to Volokh)

* Update, Charlene adds: An interesting sidelight – during the services on Sunday I checked the national anthem in the Hymnal....Not only do they only have two (not four) verses, they changed the line to “For conquer we must WHEN (not “for”) our cause it is just…” [We are Episcopalian, so I'm not surprised. ]

Posted by John Weidner at July 5, 2004 9:27 PM
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