A Conversation for The Star-Spangled Banner

Drinking Song: The Origin

Post 1

Dr Hell

I recently read the following, my paraphrasing:

In the 1550ies a guy (whose name I don't remember) who had a printing shop translated and published poems of a 6th century BC greek poet by the name of Anacreon. These poems, and as a by-effect the book, gained enormous popularity across Europe since the texts dealt mainly with erotic or drinking (or both) themes.

The popularity of Anacreon led to the creation of the 'Anacreon society' in England in the 18th century. The main goal of this society: meet every second week or so to drink and to sing jolly songs.

In the second half of the century a mediocre song-writer by the name of John Smith (I think) got the job to write a song which was easy to remember, so that every member of this society could sing along. He came up with: 'To anacreon in heaven'

This drinking song is the basis of the 'star spangled banner'



Drinking Song: The Origin

Post 2

Dr Hell

Oh, just got the text - It's from James Burke.

Excerpt follows:

'[...]Parisian Henri Estienne's [...] in 1554, printed the work of a sixth-century B.C. Greek poet called Anacreon, who mainly wrote erotic poetry and drinking songs.'

'Estienne's translation caught on all over Europe, and by the 18th century Anacreon's poetry was so enjoyed in London by well-heeled fun-lovers that in 1776 they formed the Anacreon Society. Aim: meet once every two weeks, get drunk, sing songs. (Forerunner of modern glee clubs.)[...]'

'When it was decided that the group should have a signature tune, Smith whistled one up, entitled "To Anacreon in Heaven." The song was soon on the lips of everybody, from tipsy clubmen who had survived a night out in London to nervous young American lawyers who had hazarded a night out in Baltimore.'



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Drinking Song: The Origin

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