- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 2, 2008

In the wee hours of September 13, 1861, a newspaper editor in Baltimore was awakened by the ringing of his doorbell.

Upon opening the front door, the editor was informed by one of the visitors that the man possessed a warrant for his arrest. Armed men entered the residence and searched every room in the house.

As the sun rose over the horizon that same morning, Francis Key Howard looked through the jail-cell window of Fort McHenry and thought about the irony of a poem - a poem that had been penned exactly 47 years to the day earlier by his grandfather.

The title of the poem was “Defense of Fort McHenry.” The Christian theme contained in the fourth stanza was particularly poignant to Mr. Howard that morning:

O thus be it ever when free men shall stand

Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!

Blest with victory 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.

Readers will recognize this verse by its more popular title, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 as he watched the British pound Fort McHenry during the War of 1812. As dawn broke over Fort McHenry that morning, Key was elated to see the Stars and Stripes still waving.

“Key was now convinced that there had come a change of feeling on the part of Jehovah, the God of Battles. Baltimore was saved. God had been appeased. He jotted down a rhyme that poured from his soul in a song of thanksgiving,” a Key biographer wrote.

Though Key once was known by every schoolchild in the nation as America’s “Poet, Patriot, Christian,” most children today could not identify him as our national anthem’s author, much less know of his zealous Christian faith. Yet were it not for Key’s faith, it is unlikely “The Star -Spangled Banner” would have been composed.

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