Two hundred years ago yesterday, September 14th, back in 1814, Francis Scott Key penned the words that were put to music already in existence that ultimately became our national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner. In many ways, people still complain about the song, although most of us really love the words. The reason is that the song is so tough for most of us to sing. Today there was a segment on television showing video clips of people trying to sing the song. The most famous of these bungled performances is probably from Roseanne Barr who seemed to relish the fact that she drew huge attention from virtually desecrating the national anthem.
When we were in Montana earlier this summer, a young lady was touring the country trying to sing the song in all fifty states by the end of the year. Her voice was awesome. But it is noteworthy to realize that the Star Spangled Banner wasn’t an overnight success. The words were put to music that was already popular in the country.
Eventually, the Navy accepted the song and it was also played whenever the flag was raised. But it wasn’t until March 3, 1931 that a bill was signed by President Herbert Hoover making the Star Spangled Banner our national anthem. Playing the song at baseball games was another step in its evolution. As early as 1897, the song was played in Philadelphia and there were numerous examples of the song being played during the traditional 7th inning stretch. Other teams started playing the song and in the midst of World War II, the song started being played at every baseball game; somewhat fitting for our national anthem to be played preceding every game of our national pastime. And to think that it all started because Key was standing on the deck of a ship, wildly anticipating that Fort McHenry could withstand the onslaught of the British Navy during the war of 1812. It must have been some sight when the small flag of the fort had been replaced with a much larger flag as daybreak came to Baltimore and the conflict ended.
The journey with our anthem is similar to how it is with many people concerning their relationship with God. In this country, almost all of us are familiar with God and have heard of His love for us throughout the years. However, it takes some of us years to decide to dive in and accept God and His Son, Jesus, as our Lord and Savior. It’s not that it’s something new – in fact, it’s probably quite familiar to us – just like the music to the Star Spangled Banner. But to take the step of actually formally adopting God as a part of our lives – a very important part, mind you – is difficult for some of us. It took almost 120 years for the country to adopt the national anthem.
The verse for tonight affirms our desire to be steadfast in our love for and commitment to God – even if it takes us a while to get there. We are told, in Psalm 51:10, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” In other words, help me to be committed regardless of the circumstances. My encouragement this evening is that God has been there forever and is waiting patiently for people to accept Him. My prayer is that God continues to gain in popularity and eventually, the entire world accepts Him as Lord and Savior. Wouldn’t that be a wonderful global anthem! Have a great day in the Lord, grace and peace…