The Star-Spangled Banner

arr. Paul Jennings

It was some 200 years ago, in September 1814, that Francis Scott Key witnessed the bombardment of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, from a ship in the harbor. The sight of the American flag, tattered, but still there and waving in the wind, inspired him to compose the poem that later became our National Anthem. For more on the history, we found the information and pictures on the Wikipedia page for The Star-Spangled Banner to be excellent, and, unlike many resources on the web, they are in the public domain and can be used in your classroom any way you like. These include photos, paintings, recordings, and an early manuscript of the music as well as good links for more information.

To commemorate this special anniversary, we have created a dramatic new 3-part mixed setting of America's anthem. While most settings of the tune are in Ab or Bb, we have chosen A, a brighter key, but still accessible to young voices.

After a fanfare opening, the setting starts the tune with two solos, optional, in simple counterpoint. At the word "light," the orchestra explodes with an ethereal light, leading to the entrance of all three vocal parts. With the rich textures of the orchestration and a big ending with optional divisis, this arrangement will make your young choir sound quite impressive. Rehearsal tracks for parts 2 and 3 as well as an a cappella version of the song can be downloaded from our web site for free. (See details on page 75.)

Our reasonably priced Reproducible Student Parts are recommended for this and other multi-part songs. Also note that if you would like a simpler unison arrangement (in Ab) with a nice orchestration and great background tracks, see Music K-8 Volume 10, Number 5 and Volume 21, Number 4, or purchase the song by itself as a Singles Reproducible Kit. (Visit or call us at 1-800-437-0832 for more information.)

Text is taken from Music K-8 magazine.