(the first paragraph appeared on my Facebook page … and I thought I’d like to expand on it.)

Out of the Boston bombing, I observe a small but interesting thing. We all saw the Star Spangled Banner as done at the hockey game. This morning I saw a clip of the same thing at the Red Sox baseball game…. EVERYBODY standing together singing together — the way a National Anthem should be employed — uniting all in music. I’d much rather hear 30,000 people singing together on such a song than any pop star doing it alone, no matter how good that pop star may be.

 

We’ve seen so many famous singers take their shots at doing the Banner.  Whitney Houston will never be forgotten for her stirring version.  Then again, there’s Roseanne, who chewed out the Banner and spit it out – not only musically, but with a crude attitude.  There have been barbershop groups, college choirs, regionally noted musicians of all sorts, service folks from all branches of the military – not to mention firemen, policeman, and even some home athletic stars.

 

I can understand why the job has been turned over to the pros.  Our national anthem is indeed a difficult song to sing.  The lowest note and the highest note are an octave and a half apart – quite wide for even the better singers.  The words are quite dated, arriving to us as it were from the War of 1812 from the pen of  Francis Scott Key.  The melody is an obscure English song.  There is strong evidence that there are other patriotic songs out there that might serve better as our country’s musical emblem.

 

I taught music for 34 years, and directed our high school band in about a thousand performances of the song.  I have seen our high school choir sing it.  I have seen some high school kids sing it, with varying degrees of success.  I have even seen a kindergarten class sing it for some of our sporting events.

 

My point is this: the lesson we get out of what I saw as a music teacher, and what we saw from our ‘professional singers’ and from the examples out of Boston, maybe it is best to leave the singing of the Banner to the people, even if it is so difficult.  There is a special something that happens when folks unite their voices – especially in the shadow of events like we saw in that sunlit Boston afternoon.  Despite the technically difficult qualities of the Banner, we have seen ORDINARY people sing it, and sing it with great accuracy and emotion.

 

I put the first paragraph of this post on my Facebook page, receiving a good many ‘likes’ from it, and a few comments came to me (and in some conversations as well with friends at church today) that centered on how quickly such emotion fades, and how difficult it is to keep up the flame of such emotion.

 

Maybe here’s what we need to do – I wonder what would happen if everyone dropped a note off to their favorite sports teams – whether professional or your own local schools – and let them know that we need to have the Banner sung by the public.  Write to them and tell them it is time to quit hiring and professionals and give the song back to the people.  Suggest they announce the exact reason; that we need to keep this flame of patriotism going by all joining in singing with each other.  Share with your friends these thoughts.

 

I think we could see an exciting think happen if we all would sing the Banner as best we could and as a group every time we had the chance.

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