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ANACREON IN HEAVEN. English, Air. The model tune for the United States national anthem, "Star Spangled Banner (The)." It was named after a popular gentleman's club in London, the Anacreontic Society, itself named for Anacreon, a lyric poet who lived in Greece in the 5th century B.C., "a convivial bard." Like many gentleman's clubs of the era, it was dedicated to "wit, harmony, and the god of wine." The lyrics to the song (the first stanza of which appears below) were written by a past president of the society, Ralph Tomlinson, although the tune appears to have been cobbled together by several members of the club. The music was probably polished by member John Stafford Smith (1750-1836), a court musician.

To Anacreon in Heaven, where he fat in full glee,
A few fons of Harmony fent a petition,
That He their Infpirer and Patron would be;
When this anfwer arrived from the Jolly Old Grecian
Voice, Fiddle, and Flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my Name and infpire you to boot,
And, befides, I'll infruct you like me to entwine
The Myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's Vine.

American publications of the tune appeared as early as 1798, set to various words (such as "Adams and Liberty"), including an early effort of Francis Scott Key's called "When the Warrior Returns," honoring the successful American naval expedition to punish the Barbary pirates. Thus, Key was familiar with the melody as a song vehicle when, in 1814, he wrote his more famous lyric after the battle of Fort McHenry in Baltimore harbor. The melody (as "To Anacreon in Heaven") appears in Daniel Steele's New and Complete Preceptor for the German Flute (Utica, N.Y., 1815).

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Mattson & Walz (Old Fort Snelling...Fife), 1974; p. 86. O'Farrell (Pocket Companion, vol. III), 1808. Manson (Hamilton’s Universal Tune Book, vol. 2), 1846; p. 33.

Recorded sources:

Back to Anacreon[edit]