199 years ago yesterday Key was still aboard his American flag of truce vessel, waiting for Skinner to finish his work exchanging prisoners. Not until 199 years ago today (Sept. 16, 2013), in the evening would he arrive back on shore and it was the next morning when the “Defence of Fort M’Henry” broadsides were printed and distributed. His lyrics (not poem!) won’t appear in a Baltimore newspaper until Sept. 20, and the first sheet music publication probably dates to mid-October, about the same time the new title “The Star-Spangled Banner” becomes associated with this song.
P.S. while much has been written on these things, I feel that the most definitive work in print, by far, is Filby, P. W. and Edward G. Howard. Star Spangled Books: Books, Sheet Music, Newspapers, Manuscripts, and Persons Associated with “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Baltimore: Maryland Historical Society, 1972, see especially pages 9 & 29-37.
David Hildebrand, Ph.D.
Director, The Colonial Music Institute
PBS “History Detectives” re: National Anthem
Televised lecture on “The Star-Spangled Banner”