Monday, January 09, 2012

Matt 24 watch, 149: A revealing moment -- at a Tea Party rally as a Marine sings "O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand . . . "

A longstanding friend, reader of this blog and colleague shared an email with me overnight, in which at a Tea Party -- yes, this is the Tea Party --  rally in the USA, a former Marine, answered as to how he would educate the upcoming generation on the godly heritage of the USA.

He did so, by singing the FOURTH stanza of the US National Anthem, The Star Spangled Banner, which begins "O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand . . ."

The revelation, however, is not in the song, but in what happened to those sitting around, who at first were utterly unaware of just what was being sung (but who -- in stunned, dawning awareness -- then rose in respect, one by one . . . ), as we may now see

 Let us observe: we have people, plainly up to their sixties, who simply did not know the fourth stanza of their national anthem. 

This speaks volumes, utterly revealing volumes, about what has not been happening with basic education and in the wider community at public occasions and times of historical remembrance, for decades. For at least a full generation, and probably two or more.

And, once we see what the fourth  -- not the second (even the Marine got this wrong!) -- stanza composed by Francis Scott Key in 1814 at the long but ultimately unsuccessful bombardment of an American Fort by the Royal Navy actually says, the saddening reason suggests itself with all too sickening clarity:
O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry 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!
For, this sentiment and testimony, written down in living memory of the founding of the American Republic as a poem and then transformed into a wildly popular patriotic song, then finally recognised after generations as the national anthem, bespeaks the heart of a God-fearing land shaped by the Christian gospel and scriptures. 

 Indeed, in the stanza is a direct echo of the call to solemn prayer and penitence of May 1776, issued by the same Congress that then made the Declaration of Independence just two months later:
May 1776 [over the name of John Hancock, first signer of the US Declaration of Indpependence]:
In times of impending calamity and distress; when the liberties of America are imminently endangered by the secret machinations and open assaults of an insidious and vindictive administration, it becomes the indispensable duty of these hitherto free and happy colonies, with true penitence of heart, and the most reverent devotion, publickly to acknowledge the over ruling providence of God; to confess and deplore our offences against him; and to supplicate his interposition for averting the threatened danger, and prospering our strenuous efforts in the cause of freedom, virtue, and posterity. . . . Desirous, at the same time, to have people of all ranks and degrees duly impressed with a solemn sense of God's superintending providence, and of their duty, devoutly to rely, in all their lawful enterprizes, on his aid and direction, Do earnestly recommend, that Friday, the Seventeenth day of May next, be observed by the said colonies as a day of humiliation, fasting, and prayer; that we may, with united hearts, confess and bewail our manifold sins and transgressions, and, by a sincere repentance and amendment of life, appease his righteous displeasure, and, through the merits and mediation of Jesus Christ, obtain his pardon and forgiveness; humbly imploring his assistance to frustrate the cruel purposes of our unnatural enemies; . . . that it may please the Lord of Hosts, the God of Armies, to animate our officers and soldiers with invincible fortitude, to guard and protect them in the day of battle, and to crown the continental arms, by sea and land, with victory and success: Earnestly beseeching him to bless our civil rulers, and the representatives of the people, in their several assemblies and conventions; to preserve and strengthen their union, to inspire them with an ardent, disinterested love of their country; to give wisdom and stability to their counsels; and direct them to the most efficacious measures for establishing the rights of America on the most honourable and permanent basis—That he would be graciously pleased to bless all his people in these colonies with health and plenty, and grant that a spirit of incorruptible patriotism, and of pure undefiled religion, may universally prevail; and this continent be speedily restored to the blessings of peace and liberty, and enabled to transmit them inviolate to the latest posterity. And it is recommended to Christians of all denominations, to assemble for public worship, and abstain from servile labour on the said day.[Cf. Library of Congress page on this.]
Much the same understanding, in fact, as can be discerned from a careful reading of both the US Declaration of Independence (1776) and the structure of the US Constitution (1787):

US DOI, 1776:

When . . . it becomes necessary for one people . . . to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.
We hold these truths to be self-evident, [cf Rom 1:18 - 21, 2:14 - 15], that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. --That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, --That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security . . . .
We, therefore, the Representatives of the united States of America, in General Congress, Assembled, appealing to the Supreme Judge of the world for the rectitude of our intentions [Cf. Judges 11:27 and discussion in Locke], do, in the Name, and by the Authority of the good People of these Colonies, solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States; that they are Absolved from all Allegiance to the British Crown, and that all political connection between them and the State of Great Britain, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as Free and Independent States, they have full Power to levy War, conclude Peace, contract Alliances, establish Commerce, and to do all other Acts and Things which Independent States may of right do. And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.
US Constitution's "Grand Statement" structure, 1787:
We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty [--> in such a solemn context, a covenantal term, not primarily a legal one] to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America . . . . [Main Body, Arts I - VII] . . . . Done in Convention by the Unanimous Consent of the States present the Seventeenth Day of September in the Year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and Eighty seven [--> Implies an acknowledgement of Jesus as risen Lord, cf. Rom 1:1 - 5] and of the Independence of the United States of America the Twelfth. [--> Acknowledges the historic and legal context of the Declaration of Independence] In Witness whereof We have hereunto subscribed our Names. . . . . [AMENDMENTS].
This is of course, the same sentiment, Scripture-based covenantal Government under God frame of thought and history that can be seen in Benjamin Franklin Morris' classic Christian Life and Character of the Civil Institutions of the United States, Developed in the Official and Historical Annals of the Republic (Philadelphia, PA: George W. Childs, 1864; Google Books facsimile of Sen Charles Sumner's -- yes, that same Sen Sumner --  copy, here), and which is now ever so plainly being deliberately -- it CANNOT be accidental -- erased from living memory.

So now, let us first pause to see a summary on the history of the Anthem:

And, to put on record, the full Anthem as originally composed (there was a fifth stanza used during the Civil War era):


The original manuscript
O! say can you see by the dawn's early light,
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,
Whose broad stripes and bright stars through the perilous fight,
O'er the ramparts we watched, were so gallantly streaming?
And the rockets' red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there;
O! say does that star-spangled banner yet wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore dimly seen through the mists of the deep,

Where the foe's haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o'er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning's first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
'Tis the star-spangled banner, O! long may it wave
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore

That the havoc of war and the battle's confusion,
A home and a country, should leave us no more?
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps' pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave,
O'er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

O! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand

Between their loved home and the war's desolation.
Blest with vict'ry 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!
And, now, finally, let us ponder, on what has been done to take from us -- not just Americans, taken from our whole civilisation -- our living, conscious, ingrained understanding of our God-fearing, Judaeo-Christian, Scripture-based heritage and our knowledge of how that heritage (for all our sins) has made so great a contribution to the rise of modern Liberty and its many blessings.
Then, let us recognise and turn from the wrong, and restore and renew our living heritage as a civilisation under God. END

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