Our National Anthem may be difficult to sing, but it has a rousing message that thrills the heart as few songs do. It was written by a great Christian, Francis Scott Key (1779-1843). He was born in 1779 in Maryland and grew up in a Christian home. As a child, he read the Bible by the hour.
After graduating from college, Key was torn between entering the ministry or practicing law. After a long struggle, he chose law. As a young attorney, he was severely criticized for arguing the cases of slaves in court. He became a successful attorney in Washington D.C., where his brother-in-law, Roger B. Taney, was Chief Justice of the United States.
Francis Scott Key was a devout Christian. Twice every day he led his family in Bible study and prayer. He was an active member of his church in Washington. In 1824, he helped to found the American Sunday School Union, which was instrumental in founding Sunday Schools across the nation. He served as its vice president for 18 years.
All of his life he tithed his income. On his deathbed, he instructed his wife about tithing his remaining money. He wrote letters to his wife and children, to be read after his death in 1843. He urged his children to be faithful to Christ. He wrote, “Remember that you do not possess yourselves, Christ has bought you and His precious blood was your price.”
Today the U.S. flag flies 24 hours a day over his grave and monument at Frederick, Maryland. He was an outstanding patriot, and a loyal Christian.
Now think back with me to the occasion that inspired Francis Scott Key to write “The Star-Spangled Banner,” our National Anthem. During the War of 1812, the British overcame American forces in Canada and then captured Washington, D.C., where they burned the White House to the ground, and forced the federal government to flee.
As the British fleet savaged Chesapeake Bay, Baltimore was about to fall. It if fell into the enemy’s hands the United States would be crippled.
On September 15, 1814, Francis Scott Key, by then a young attorney, was negotiating with the British for the release of a prisoner. While Key was held on board an enemy ship, waiting for a reply, the British bombarded Ft. McHenry all night long.
Against the blackness of the night, Key watched “bombs bursting in air.” He prayed for America, “Please, God, it has been Thy grace that has made our country strong. Preserve Thy handiwork and help us to stand as free men.”
As the sun came up the next morning, Key looked out through the fog and battle smoke – and was thrilled to see the American flag still waving over the fort! He took a letter out of his pocket and wrote “The Star-Spangled Banner” on the back of the envelope. It became a popular patriotic song. In 1931 Congress made it our National Anthem.
The second stanza ends with these words:
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.
LODGE 43 IS KNOWN BY THE LOVE WE DEMONSTRATE FOR ONE ANOTHER…
May the peace of God rule in your heart.
Kenneth F. Hudson, Lodge No. 43 Chaplain