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Patriotic Music Lesson

Updated on November 3, 2014

Patriotic Music & Poems

A country's music can tell you much about the country. Music can shape one's emotions, sense of nationalism, and give a feeling of pride of one's home. Our leaders and other countries share national anthems and other patriotic music in diplomatic events to show individuality of each country and at the same time show unification of a person's culture and people.

How exciting it is to watch the award ceremonies of the Olympics! As the three flags go up, and the gold medalist's national anthem is played, the love for one's country is obvious! The smiles, the cheers, and the emotional tears give honor not only to the champion, but also their countrymen and women.

As we've been studying our nation's beginnings and it's important documents, we thought it important to also learn about music that tells of our country's honor ~ Patriotic Music!!

Find below videos of many of our favorite American patriotic songs, descriptions of the song's stories and their composers, and educational materials for teachers and students!

Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people he chose for his inheritance. ~ Psalm 33:10-12

Songs of the USA

God Bless America: The Ultimate Patriotic Album
God Bless America: The Ultimate Patriotic Album

This recording contains 22 classic patriotic favorites such as Yankee Doodle, The Star Spangled Banner, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, Amazing Grace, America the Beautiful, You're a Grand Old Flag, Anchors Aweigh, The Marines Hymn, Stars and Stripes Forever, and others performed by orchestras and choirs in classical taste.


The Star Spangled Banner - America's National Anthem

Star Spangled Banner - Francis Scott Key / John Stafford Smith

Originally entitled "Defense of Fort McHenry", this stirring poem was written by Georgetown lawyer Francis Scott Key after observing the Battle of Baltimore between the British and American forces during the War of 1812 in Baltimore, Maryland on September 13 - 14, 1814.

Mr. Key had been sent aboard one of the British battleships to help free a civilian prisoner. He was successful, but was not to be released until after the battle because the British knew he could ruin their surprise attack plans. Therefore he observed the long battle from the British side. After seeing the "rockets red glare" and hearing "the bomb's bursting in air" "through the night" he was not aware of the condition of "what so proudly we hailed at the twilight's last gleaming" (flag) through the smoke and confusion. He knew if the Americans were defeated, the flag would be down, but if it were still "streaming gallantly", the Americans had survived the hard battle. Imagine his excitement when he saw "by the dawn's early light", the "broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight" and it "gave proof through the night, that our flag was still there"! The battle was won and "that Star Spangled Banner yet" waved, "o're the land of the free, and the home of the brave"!

English composer John Stafford Smith titled the tune we use for the SSB, "Anacreontic". Composed while Smith was in his teens in the 1760's, its original lyrics and meaning are completely different than how we refer to the music today. The tune's lyrics had been changed several times over the years, and the tune was a popular one at the time in America. It was Mr. Key's brother-in-law, Judge Nicholson, who put the tune and the lyrics together the first time.

The original garrison flag sewed by Mary Pickersgill and her team of seamstresses was to be displayed 90 feet in the air and seen at very far distances. The dimensions of this humungous flag were 30 feet by 42 feet with each star being 2 feet in diameter and each strip12 feet long! The fifteen stars and stripes were to represent the original 13 colonies plus Vermont and Kentucky. The flag that we now know as the "Star Spangled Banner" was delivered to Fort McHenry in August of 1813. That original flag from the battle is displayed at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington, DC, USA for all to see.

The Star-Spangled Banner
The Star-Spangled Banner

This colorfully illustrated book takes young readers through the story of the United States national anthem plus give them sheet music for guitar or piano along with a copy of Mr. Key's original manuscript. This book come in original hardcover style and Kindle style for your preference. Happy 200th birthday, Star Spangled Banner!

Stars & Stripes Forever
Stars & Stripes Forever

The Stars & Stripes Forever

John Phillip Sousa

"Hurrah for the flag of the free.

May it wave as our standard forever

The gem of the land and the sea,

The banner of the right.

Let despots remember the day

When our fathers with mighty endeavor

Proclaimed as they marched to the fray,

That by their might and by their right

It waves forever."

From the talented pen of John Phillip Sousa comes this national favorite always played at every 4th of July celebration, parades, and fireworks displays! What American doesn't feel that sense of exited pride well through them hearing the brass, percussion, and winds on one of the most familiar tunes in the country? It's bouncy, enthusiastic beat truly makes one want to march along with the military and marching bands. Featured at the end is the mightiest of piccolo solos and the flood of an unforgettable counter-melody in the trombone section.

The original sheet music for the piece may be viewed and studied from the Historic American Sheet Music webpage.

PBS has a wonderful biography of Mr. Sousa, a list of his compositions, and an excerpt about Stars & Stripes at A Capitol Fourth.

I wonder what the composer would have thought about this Muppet Version of his music!

Stars & Stripes Forever  [Blu-ray + DVD]
Stars & Stripes Forever [Blu-ray + DVD]

All fans of John Phillip Sousa will love this story and music!! This movie takes you back in time to find out about the life of the amazing American composer who has left us with numerous marches and military band pieces of music. It is available on DVD, BlueRay, and VHS.


You're a Grand Old Flag!

Composer George M. Cohan wrote the story line, lyrics, and music for the musical production of George Washington, Jr.. This musical, which ran during the spring of 1906 and 1907, was premiered at the Herald Square Theatre in New York City. One of the most popular songs from George Washington, Jr., "You're a Grand Old Flag", became a huge hit and set a musical record by selling over one million copies of its sheet music.

"The original lyric for this perennial George M. Cohan favorite came, as Cohan later explained, from an encounter he had with a Civil War veteran who fought at Gettysburg. The two men found themselves next to each other and Cohan noticed the vet held a carefully folded but ragged old flag. The man reportedly then turned to Cohan and said, "She's a grand old rag." Cohan thought it was a great line and originally named his tune "You're a Grand Old Rag." So many groups and individuals objected to calling the flag a "rag," however, that he "gave 'em what they wanted" and switched words, renaming the song "You're a Grand Old Flag." "

~ from Performing Arts Encyclopedia from the Library of Congress

"Grand Old Flag"

You're a grand old flag,

You're a high flying flag

And forever in peace may you wave.

You're the emblem of

The land I love.

The home of the free and the brave.

Ev'ry heart beats true

'neath the Red, White and Blue,

Where there's never a boast or brag.

Should old acquaintance be forget,

Keep your eye on the

Grand Old Flag!

Yankee Doodle Dandy

George M. Cohen composed the song "I'm a Yankee Doodle Dandy" for the musical Little Johnny Jones. It was premiered at the Liberty Theater on Broadway in November of 1904. The storyline of the musical revolves around Johnny Jones, an American horse jockey created by Cohen, and his adventures with his horse named "Yankee Doodle".

The fun, upbeat piece "borrows" several sections of other well known American songs such as good old "Yankee Doodle". Cohen not only composed the music, but also penned the lyrics, wrote the story, produced the show, and starred in it!

I'm a ...

Yankee Doodle Dandy,

A Yankee Doodle do or die,

A real live nephew of

my Uncle Sam's,

Born on the Fourth of July.

I've got a Yankee Doodle sweetheart.

She's my Yankee Doodle joy.

Yankee doodle came to London

Just to ride the ponies.

I am a Yankee Doodle Boy.

George M. Cohan

Yankee Doodle

Did you know that the song "Yankee Doodle" was meant to be an insult to the colonial American soldiers during the American Revolution in the late 1700's?

"Yankee" ~ derived from the generic Dutch name "Jahn" (yawn) or "John" that the Dutch settlers in America called the English speaking colonists in the mid-1600's who they felt were behind in culture and education. The ending "ke" was a Dutch way of changing the name from John to Johnny ~ therefore "Jahnke" were the English settlers.

"Doodle ~ when Britain had taken over New York in the 1700's, the city folk referred to the country farmers and frontiersmen as "doodles" meaning a silly, unmannered, uneducated person.

Put the two together to come up with a term that wasn't exactly flattering!

Macaroni ~ High fashion for gentlemen in England during the time was referred to as "macaroni". The soldiers were implying that the Americans were so unstylish that their best attempt to imitate European fashions were to stuff a feather in their plain everyday hats.



God Bless the USA - Lee Greenwood

For the President of the United States of America

Sir Walter Scott first the first lyrics as a poem intitled "The Lady of the Lake". James Sanderson music was put to the poem in 1812, but it wasn't intended for the Chief Executive then. It wasn't associated with the president until 1815 when it was used as an honorary song remembering President Washington and celebrating the end of the War of 1812. Find out more about it at the link above.

Hail to the Chief

"Hail to the Chief

we have chosen for the nation,

Hail to the Chief!

We salute him, one and all.

Hail to the Chief,

as we pledge cooperation

In proud fulfillment

of a great, noble call.

Yours is the aim

to make this grand country grander,

This you will do,

that's our strong, firm belief.

Hail to the one

we selected as commander,

Hail to the President!

Hail to the Chief!"

Lyrics by Albert Gamse

Music by James Sanderson

~ Special Thanks ~

In high respect to all those who serve freely in the United States military to bring freedom to others.

Patriotic Sheet Music - Enjoy playing and singing songs of America yourself!

Top-Requested Patriotic Sheet Music: 18 Songs Celebrating the American Spirit (Top-Requested Sheet Music)
Top-Requested Patriotic Sheet Music: 18 Songs Celebrating the American Spirit (Top-Requested Sheet Music)

Alfred music publishing company has compiled what they deem the 18 most requested patriotic songs for you to sing or play on piano or guitar. Some included pieces are: My Country 'Tis of Thee, America the Beautiful, Battle Hymn of the Republic, The Star-Spangled Banner, The Stars and Stripes Forever, When Johnny Comes Marching Home Again, When the Saints Go Marching In, You're a Grand Old Flag, all armed forces themes, and others.


Do you have a favorite patriotic song that gives you national pride? - I hope my international friends will leave their choices, too!

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    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      Thank you, Favored! Just listening to the these tunes, I swell with patriotic pride. I hope others enjoy them, too.

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 

      5 years ago from USA

      I'm so pleased to see this lesson. Kids don't know these songs because they aren't being taught. Some of my finest memories in grade school are of learning songs like these in music class.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @FastSecrets: Thanks! Hope it is. :)

    • FastSecrets profile image


      6 years ago

      Great lens! That is the kind of info that should be shared around the net.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @DLeighAlexander: Thank you! I really love my country and the military who work hard to protect it.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image


      6 years ago

      Returning to say this is a favorite lens of mine. Thank you for paying tribute to America and to our military who fight for our freedom.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @Ann Hinds: I'm glad you will be using the materials in your homeschool and hope it will be helpful. Thank you for your "blessing"!

    • Ann Hinds profile image

      Ann Hinds 

      7 years ago from So Cal

      Thanks for putting together this great lens. I just pinned this so we can start working on it for summer. We homeschool and this is not only a great way to learn about the music but the history behind it. Blessed.

    • DLeighAlexander profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a wonderful lens giving tribute to our great country. Thank God for America, our beautiful flag, our national anthem, and for all those courageous Americans serving our country in the military. America has been blessed greatly and we have much to be thankful to God for. May God continue to bless our great nation. Your lens is especially appropriate for today as we celebrate Flag Day with millions of American Flags flying high and proud. ... Angel Blessings

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      great lens

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      well done lens! truly inspiring, I'll have to come back and visit this again before July 4 hits.

    • waldenthreenet profile image


      8 years ago

      This is a valuable lens and topic. Thank you. I like to explore with you from a historic perspective this topic, both from the folk music traditions of the 60's ("This land is your Land, This Land is my Land" is still being sung by folk musicians today ), and also the Civil War period music. There are 100,000 Yankees and Confederates are still lay in cemetries between the Potomac River and Petersburg, VA. The Civil War cannot be forgotten. The music cannot be forgotten. I just discovered a Joan Baez Song about Dixieland that is touching and remembers the suffering that ordinary Americans had to bear in Dixieland. My Memoryland Virginia 1864 ! Thank you again. Hope we can continue this dialogue in future.

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      @waldenthreenet: Music can be so powerful on our emotions to help us remember brave loved ones. Thanks for your thoughts - hope to "talk" with you again. =D

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Love Vande Mataram (Indian patriotic song)- true spirit of unity!!

    • MyFairLadyah2 profile image


      8 years ago

      Not especially a patriotic song with words that may be sung

      But the music of Aaron Copeland honors America with a quiet tongue

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Very inspiring. And thank you for the nice surprise of recommending my July 4th country music lens. Very proud to recommend Patriotic Music Lesson in kind. :)

    • DuaneJ profile image


      8 years ago

      Vaande Mataram - an Indian patriotic song :-)

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 

      8 years ago

      great links!

      Take a peek at my lens, Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great idea for a lens! Great read. I especially enjoyed the lessons!

    • iijuan12 profile image


      8 years ago from Florida

      I just love these lessons! Thank you for making this lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      What a wonderful and very patriotic lens Pamela! I enjoy listening to national anthems and hope they inspire patriotism in all of us.

    • Jamie-Isherwood profile image


      9 years ago

      wow what a great lense, I have never seen any thing ever like this patriotic music lense very interesting and what a nice layout too.

      I just created one on learning to play the drums

    • Teacher Adez7 profile image

      Teacher Adez7 

      9 years ago

      If ever there was a time for this lens to go viral, it is now! What a great message to send to the world and especially to our young children about their heritage and history of this great nation!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I really enjoy hearing patriotic music. Being an American is a privilege we should never take for granted. These songs remind us what it's all about!

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 

      9 years ago

      Music can add so much to a patriotic study, or any historical study! Great lens!

    • TheresaMarkham profile image


      9 years ago

      Lots of great info here! Thanks for taking the time to put it all together!

    • Brookelorren LM profile image

      Brookelorren LM 

      9 years ago

      Great choice of songs here!

    • RhondaAlbom profile image

      Rhonda Albom 

      9 years ago from New Zealand

      Another interesting lens. Loved learning the truth about Yankee Doodle.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      I enjoyed reading through your lens and listening to the wonderful music!! Thanks and Happy Independence Day!!

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Some great tunes here. Mind you even the English have some Rousing Music and Songs too :) such as Land of Hope and Glory, Elgar's Nimrod and The Dambusters!

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 

      9 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      I love all the patriotic music. Wonderful lens and thumbs up. Lensrolling this back to my Patriotic and Fireworks Gifts lens..

    • Faye Rutledge profile image

      Faye Rutledge 

      9 years ago from Concord VA

      America the Beautiful is my favorite Patriotic song. Lensrolled with my American Flag lens. Thanks! :)

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 

      9 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      I love to listen to Patriotic Music and this is a super lens. Lensrolling to my Freedom Fest lens.

    • HorseAndPony LM profile image

      HorseAndPony LM 

      10 years ago

      My daughter loves to study patriotic music.


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