Why We Don’t Sing the 4th Verse of the National Anthem

Few people realize that the national anthem was written to be sung in 4 complete verses.

The first 3 verses ask questions. Can you see the flag? Does the banner yet wave? What is that breeze? Where is the band of soldiers? Take the first verse for example. As I’m sure you know, it reads:

O! say can you see by the dawn’s early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets’ red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through 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?

The verse, a quick call and response about if the flag is still up, ends in a question mark. THE VERSE ENDS IN A QUESTION MARK. Why is everyone ok with this? And yet, this is the verse we sing. I bet that 98% of people in the United States don’t even know the lyrics to any of the other verses.

It is the final and 4th verse of the national anthem, that answers the questions from the first three. It proclaims things! It’s bold. It’s awesome. It reads:

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation.
Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation!
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!

That baby is packed….and it ends in an exclamation. Freeman shall stand! War’s desolation, victory, peace, Conquer we must, In God is our trust. The banner shall wave, and this is the land of the free and brave. The 4th verse of the national anthem is amazing. It answers all the questions of the first 3 verses.

Please, please can we sing the 4th verse at baseball games or in church or at all the events that we sing it? It’s the verse that answers the questions and proclaims everything that America stands for. Francis Scott Key meant to put the best verse last.

He’s probably rolling in his grave.







3 Responses

  1. Barbie Mills
    | Reply

    I totally agree with this. The 4th verse always makes me cry.

  2. Doug Leary
    | Reply

    This article is interesting but doesn’t deliver on the title. Why don’t we sing that last verse? I’m still wondering. Anyway, I’ve always thought our national anthem should be “America the Beautiful” instead of an inspiration for flag worship. Unfortunately, the last verse of America the Beautiful ends with, “thy whiter jubilee” – a phrase I don’t understand, but which would probably be taken as a racial reference. Sigh.

  3. Richard Lynn Stack
    | Reply

    I doubt that I’ll ever be called upon to sing the Anthem. But if I am, I will definitely choose the fourth verse.

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