Two American Anthems
- Difficulty: II
- Duration: c. 2:30
- B-flat Clarinet I-II-III
- Bass Clarinet
- Alto Saxophone I-II
- Tenor Saxophone
- Baritone Saxophone
- B-flat Trumpet I-II-III
- Horn in F I-II-III-IV
- Trombones I-II-III
- Snare Drum
- Crash Cymbal & Bass Drum
This arrangement of two of our nation's hymns features a few different harmonies than normally employed in other versions. The link/transition between the two is optional, and either can be played as a stand-alone work. The ending of America the Beautiful features a brief medley including the SSB and one more quintessentially American hymn.
Star Spangled Banner
While Francis Scott Key gets the bulk of the credit for the Star Spangled Banner, in reality Key only wrote the poem upon which the lyrics are based (“The Defense of Fort McHenry”). The music for our National Anthem was actually written by John Stafford Smith, a British composer born in 1750. Smith was a member of the Anacreontic Club of London, a group of wealthy men who met to celebrate music, food, and drink. The tune was first published as “To Anacreon in Heaven” circa 1780. The Star Spangled Banner was officially recognized as the American National Anthem in 1931 by an act of Congress.
First Verse of the Star Spangled Banner
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, thro' the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watch'd, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof thro' 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?
America the Beautiful
Katherine Lee Bates, a professor of English at Wellesley College, penned the words to America the Beautiful while hiking through Colorado in 1893. The poem went largely unrecognized until it appeared in the Congregationalist Newspaper two years later, and was finally published by the Boston Evening Transcript in 1904. It was never meant to be sung, but was paired nonetheless with a hymn song (“Materna”) written by Samuel Augustus Ward in 1882. Ward wrote the melody on his way home from a trip to Coney Island, an amusement park in Brooklyn, New York. Sadly, Samuel Ward never got to hear his melody used for America the Beautiful. He died in September of 1903; the music and lyrics were joined together in 1904 and published in 1910.
First Verse of America the Beautiful
O beautiful for spacious skies, For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties, Above the fruited plain!
America! America! God shed His grace on thee,
And crown thy good with brotherhood, From sea to shining sea!