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The Anacreontic Song

The Anacreontic Song, sometimes (but erroneously) called To Anacreon In Heaven, is an old English drinking song. Interestingly, the tune was used for the American national anthem, The Star Spangled Banner. Try singing it.

To Anacreon in Heav’n, where he sat in full glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a petition;
That he their Inspirer and Patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian;
“Voice, Fiddle, and Flute, No longer be mute,
I’ll lend you my name and inspire you to boot,
And besides I’ll instruct you like me, to intwine,
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus’s Vine.”

The melody became well-known after Francis Scott Key wrote a poem Defence of Fort McHenry while detained on a British ship during the night of 13th September, 1814, as the British forces bombarded the American fort. His brother, on hearing the poem, realised it fitted the tune of The Anacreontic Song. Later retitled The Star-Spangled Banner, Key's words, with the English music, became a well-known and recognized patriotic American song and was officially designated as the U.S. national anthem in 1931.

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