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Songs in the Night 5 — An American Song

Songs in the Night Day 5: An American Song

He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God. Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:3, ESV)

As described by Cate Lineberry at smithsonianmag.com on March 1, 2007, “on a rainy September 13, 1814, British warships sent a downpour of shells and rockets onto Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor, relentlessly pounding the American fort for 25 hours. The bombardment, known as the Battle of Baltimore, came only weeks after the British had attacked Washington, DC, burning the Capitol, the Treasury, and the President’s house. It was another chapter in the ongoing War of 1812.

“A week earlier, Francis Scott Key, a 35-year-old American lawyer, had boarded the flagship of the British fleet on the Chesapeake Bay in hopes of persuading the British to release a friend who had recently been arrested. Key’s tactics were successful, but because he and his companions had gained knowledge of the impending attack on Baltimore, the British did not let them go. They allowed the Americans to return to their own vessel but continued guarding them. Under their scrutiny, Key watched on September 13 as the barrage of Fort McHenry began eight miles away.

“’It seemed as though mother earth had opened and was exploding shot and shell in a sheet of fire and brimstone,’ Key wrote later. But when darkness arrived, Key saw only red erupting in the night sky. Given the scale of the attack, he was certain the British would win. The hours passed slowly, but in the clearing smoke of ‘the dawn’s early light’ on September 14, he saw the American flag—not the British Union Jack—flying over the fort, announcing an American victory.

“Key put his thoughts on paper while still on board the ship, setting his words to the tune of a popular English song. … The Baltimore Patriot newspaper soon printed it, and within weeks, Key’s poem, now called ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ appeared in print across the country, immortalizing his words and forever naming the flag it celebrated.”

Our battles may be fierce. Wounds may cut deep. Healing and rebuilding, and positioning for new growth may be painful and take more time than we ever want them to. But when the smoke clears from the barrage of attacks we have endured, what anthem will rise from the ashes we have survived?

In “Edges of His Ways,” English missionary to India, Amy Carmichael, shares one of her songs:

Before the winds that blow do cease,
Teach me to dwell within Thy calm.
Before the pain has passed in peace,
Give me, my God, to sing a psalm.
Let me not lose the chance to prove
The fullness of enabling love.
O Love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.

Before I leave the desert land
For meadows of immortal flowers,
Lead me where streams at Thy command
Flow by the boarders of the hours,
That when the thirsty come, I may
Show them the fountains in the way.
O Love of God, do this for me:
Maintain a constant victory.

Oh come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the LORD, our Maker! (Psalm 95:6, ESV)

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