The words of our national anthem were written by Francis Scott Key in 1814 during the defense of Fort McHenry, near Baltimore, Md. The tune, [To] ANACREON IN HEAVEN, is attributed to an Englishman, John Stafford Smith, and was what we would today call the "theme song" of the Anacreontic Society of London.
Nearly all collectors try to assemble as many editions as possible, and because of the fact that THE STAR SPANGLED BANNERmeans so much to the average American, it is considered the Number One collector's interest in songs. A fine and complete bibliography of all known editions was compiled by the late Joseph Mullerin 1935 and published by G. A. Baker & Co. It might be worthy of mention that there are eight known copies of the first edition of STAR SPANGLED BANNER.
To commemorate Stephen Decatur's return in triumph from the War with Tripoli, 1801-1805, Francis Scott Key, author of our National Anthem, wrote an earlier poem to the ANACREON tune entitled THE WARRIOR'S RETURN.
Where mixed with the olive the laurel shall wave And form a bright wreath for the brows of the brave. New York Times, September 10, 1939.
This conclusively proves that Key himself set the words of THE STAR SPANGLED BANNERto the odd rhythm of ANACREON IN HEAVEN, which had previously been used in 1798as the setting of the popular ADAMS AND LIBERTY.