Make your July 4th celebrations special with patriotic music.
Of course any celebration of the United States should include our national anthem, “The Star Spangled Banner.” The lyrics were written by Francis Scott Key while being detained aboard a British ship in 1814 and watching the failed British attack at Fort McHenry. Key’s heartfelt words express his American pride and his concern over the fate of our country. Key watched as canon fire sored through the air around the fort. He worried about the fate of the women and children in the surrounding towns if the British were successful . His concern turned to pure pride when the canon fire ended and he saw that, “Our flag was still there”.
The flag that Key wrote about represents our nation. The War of 1812 was another great attempt to reject the British monarchy, the flag became our national symbol.
Below are my top ten patriotic songs to play during your July 4th celebrations at barbeque’s and parties. along with the origins of each.
1. “The Star Spangled Banner”
Lyrics – Francis Scott Key, 1814
Music – John Stafford Smith, 1760’s
2. “America the Beautiful”
Lyrics – Katharine Lee Bates, 1893, revised in 1904 and 1913
Written during a quick decent in a wagon down Pikes Peak in Colorado. Bates said, “It was then and there, as I was looking out over the sea-like expanse of fertile country spreading away so far under those ample skies, that the opening lines of the hymn floated into my mind.”
Music – Samuel Augustus Ward, 1882
3. “God Bless America”
Lyrics – Irving Berlin, written in 1918 but not published.
In 1938, Berlin rewrote and published the song as a peace song. It was first sung by Kate Smith to honor Armistice day, during a broadcast from the New York World’s Fair.
Music – Irving Berlin 1918
4. “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” / “America”
Lyrics – Reverend Samuel Francis Smith, 1831
Written to a tune from a German school music book at the request of composer Lowell Mason. The Park Street Church in Boston, Massachusetts was where the song was first performed on July 4, 1831, for a children’s service.
Music – Origin not confirmed
First printed in England in 1744 in the tune book “Thesaurus Musicus.” The music has become the national anthem of several countries.
5. “This is My Country”
Lyrics & Music – Don Raye and Al Jacobs, 1940
First recorded in 1942 by the group Fred Waring and His Pennsylvanians, the song became very popular. It is now played nightly at the Disneyland and Disney World fireworks display.
6. “Stars and Stripes Forever”
Music – John Phillip Sousa, 1896
“…absorbed in thoughts of my manager’s death and the many duties and decisions which awaited me in New York. Suddenly, I began to sense a rhythmic beat of a band playing within my brain.”
Lyrics – John Phillip Sousa
The song is always played as an instrumental march, but Sousa did write lyrics to the music.
7. “You’re a Grand Old Flag”
Lyrics & Music – George M. Cohan, 1906
The lyrics were written after Cohan met a Gettysburg, Civil War veteran. The vet was carrying a ragged, but carefully folded flag. The man said to Cohan, “She’s a grand old rag.” Cohan used the line to name his song, but eventually renamed the song, “You’re a Grand Old Flag,” after protest of the word rag describing the American flag
8. “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”
Music – William Steffe, 1856
Lyrics – Julia Ward Howe, 1861
Written after Howe and her husband, abolitionists, were involved in a fight between the Union and Confederate troops in Virginia.
9. “I’ll Be Home for Christmas”
Lyrics & Music – Walter Kent, James Gannon, & Sam Ram, 1943
Became a top 10 hit when Bing Crosby recorded the song in 1943. The astronauts of the ‘Gemini 7’ from the 1965 space program, requested Bing Crosby’s recording of “I’ll be Home for Christmas” be piped to them while hurtling back to earth.
10. “This Land is Your Land”
Lyrics & Music – Woody Guthrie, 1940
Guthrie embraced the differences of America’s regular people. His childhood during the Depression gave him a dislike of greed. These intense feelings are displayed in the lyrics of, “This Land is Your Land.”