The Stars and Stripes Forever

My idea of a fabulous 4th of July includes eating a hamburger, corn on the cob, and watermelon, singing the Star Spangled Banner, watching fireworks, and listening to a live band play The Stars and Stripes Forever.

I would like to hear The Declaration of Independence read aloud too, but I haven’t heard that on the 4th in decades.

I may not get all those wonderful things this year, but at least I can watch and listen to the U.S. Army Field Band and Soldier’s Chorus play and sing the Stars and Stripes Forever.

Did you know that John Philip Sousa not only wrote the march, but he wrote lyrics for it too? And I don’t mean “Be kind to your web-footed friends,” as fun as that is. I mean real patriotic lyrics.

I didn’t know that until quite recently. Here they are:

First strain
Let martial note in triumph float
And liberty extend its mighty hand
A flag appears ‘mid thunderous cheers,
The banner of the Western land.
The emblem of the brave and true
Its folds protect no tyrant crew;
The red and white and starry blue
Is freedom’s shield and hope.

Let eagle shriek from lofty peak
The never-ending watchword of our land;
Let summer breeze waft through the trees
The echo of the chorus grand.
Sing out for liberty and light,
Sing out for freedom and the right.
Sing out for Union and its might,
O patriotic sons.

Second strain
𝄆 Other nations may deem their flags the best
And cheer them with fervid elation
But the flag of the North and South and West
Is the flag of flags, the flag of Freedom’s nation. 𝄇

Trio
Hurrah for the flag of the free!
May it wave as our standard forever,
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let tyrants remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

Grandioso
Hurrah for the flag of the free.
May it wave as our standard forever
The gem of the land and the sea,
The banner of the right.
Let tyrants remember the day
When our fathers with mighty endeavor
Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,
That by their might and by their right
It waves forever.

The “first strain” must be very tricky to sing at the pace the march is usually played. The Army chorus in this video sing the “Trio” and “Grandioso” which really function as the chorus of the piece.

And if you want something thoroughly silly, you can watch a rendition from the Muppet Show, with Sam the Eagle, the Swedish chef, Beaker, Bobo, Animal, a bewigged penguin, and some chickens.

Hurrah for the flag of the free! Long may it wave. Have a fabulous Independence Day!

About nancyleek

Nancy is a retired librarian who lives in Chico, California. She is the author of John Bidwell: The Adventurous Life of a California Pioneer.
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