Posted by: rcottrill | October 14, 2010

Today in 1814 – The Star-Spangled Banner written

While assisting in negotiations for the release of a prisoner in the War of 1812, Francis Scott Key overheard the British plan to attack and capture the port at Baltimore. Out of fear that he would warn the Americans, Key was detained until the attack took place. Sixteen ships were sent to bombard Fort McHenry that guarded the port. For 25 hours, by day and on through the night, the shelling continued. Key watched it all apprehensively from the deck of a British vessel but, with the sunrise, came the dawn of hope. Through the mist and smoke of exploding shells, Francis Scott Key saw the huge 42-foot American flag flying over Fort McHenry and knew the attack had failed.

Still on board ship, Key wrote a poem entitled “Defence of Fort McHenry.” It is that poem that was later adapted to become a popular national song, The Star-Spangled Banner–though its official recognition as the National Anthem of the United States of America did not come until 1931. Less known is the last stanza, a strong spiritual aspiration which says:

Oh! 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!

(2) Today in 1876 – Harry Ironside Born
ReGraphic Harry Ironsidenowned Bible teacher Henry Allan Ironside, born in Toronto, authored 60 books, and served as pastor of Moody Church for 18 years. Affectionately dubbed the Archbishop of Fundamentalism, he was the best known Christian leader of his era, other than Billy Sunday (whose funeral sermon he preached). Harry Ironside’s commentaries on Bible books are still purchased and studied more than half a century after his death. Their simplicity and warmth of feeling make them a valuable addition to any library.

We do not normally think of Dr. Ironside as a hymn writer, but he did give us one. It is perhaps more of a solo number than a congregational hymn, but its message is strong and compelling, and the story of how it came to be is rather unusual.

Gospel musician George Schuler was sitting at the piano one day, playing nothing in particular, just a random series of notes and chords. His mind rambled over the varied experiences of his life, and how the Lord had protected and blessed him. After awhile, a distinct melody seemed to take shape under his talented fingers. The notes seemed to say to him, “I’m overshadowed by His mighty love,” but he could make little more of them.

Finally, the thought came, “Why not call Dr. Ironside, and ask him to write some words to fit the tune?” His phone call found the Bible teacher at work in his study.  Ironside protested that he was not a poet, but said he would do his best. Schuler expected a result in a few days, but actually a whole year went by. Then, as Mr. Schuler was going over some of his unpublished compositions, he came across the melody once again. Certain that the song lyrics were completed long ago, and that Ironside had simply forgotten to tell him, he phoned again.

Harry Ironside was out, but his secretary took the message that George Schuler would drop by the next day to pick up the song. When Ironside heard that, he was stunned. He’d totally forgotten the commission! Digging in a pile of papers he found the manuscript, sat down at his desk, and in less than half an hour he completed the song Overshadowed.

How desolate my life would be,
How dark and drear my nights and days,
If Jesus’ face I did not see
To brighten all earth’s weary ways.

I’m overshadowed by His mighty love,
Love eternal, changeless, pure,
Overshadowed by His mighty love,
Rest is mine, serene, secure;
He died to ransom me from sin,
He lives to keep me day by day.
I’m overshadowed by His might love,
Love that brightens all my way.

Now judgment fears no more alarm,
I dread not death, nor Satan’s pow’r;
The world for me has lost its charm,
God’s grace sustains me ev’ry hour.


  1. […] is best known for being the author of the American national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner (see Today in 1814). However, he was a dedicated Christian, and has given us a couple of fine hymns as well, Before […]

  2. […] Scott Key is well known to most Americans. He is the author of that country’s national anthem, The Star-Spangled Banner. Key’s father was an army officer who fought with distinction in the Revolutionary War. The son […]

  3. This is one of inspiring song from great man of Francis Scott Key Also,George Schuler is a spiritual man that follow God


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