O Say Can You See … the Bottom of This Mug?

It’s not unusual, today, for a song from Broadway or other popular music to be given new lyrics, usually for the purpose of a send-up or satire. So it’s noteworthy that our national anthem — yes, “The Star-Spangled Banner” — actually was an application of more serious lyrics to a tune associated with a drinking song.

Today at noon, in the “Creating the United States” exhibition on the second floor of the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building in Washington, D.C., Raymond White of the Library’s Music Division will give a gallery talk about how “The Star-Spangled Banner” (and a slew of other patriotic songs of the late 1700s and early 1800s) emerged from the official song of a London gentleman’s club named after Anacreon, a Greek poet who really appreciated wine and women.

The Library of Congress has a songbook, dating to 1804, containing the lyrics to the song that lent its tune to our national anthem, sometimes referred to by its first line: “To Anacreon in Heaven. “

2 Comments

  1. Chief Featherfire SilverCloud Lennon
    May 22, 2009 at 7:33 am

    Well, maybe if they had continued on and made it into a more serious song/lrics compilation…People might all be able to sing the words PROPERLY, as they are standing in the pub!! Instead of mumbling into “the bottom of their mug”!!!

  2. רבנות ראשון לציון
    May 21, 2012 at 9:33 am

    I’d like to thank you for the efforts you’ve put in penning this site. I’m hoping to check out the same high-grade blog posts by you in the future as well. In truth, your creative writing abilities has motivated me to get my very own blog now 😉

Add a Comment

This blog is governed by the general rules of respectful civil discourse. You are fully responsible for everything that you post. The content of all comments is released into the public domain unless clearly stated otherwise. The Library of Congress does not control the content posted. Nevertheless, the Library of Congress may monitor any user-generated content as it chooses and reserves the right to remove content for any reason whatever, without consent. Gratuitous links to sites are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments. We further reserve the right, in our sole discretion, to remove a user's privilege to post content on the Library site. Read our Comment and Posting Policy.

Required fields are indicated with an * asterisk.