How To Sing "O'er the Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave?"

This question was asked to Marilyn vos Savant by David Graham of San Diego, CA…
[ul]Our national anthem has four stanzas, yet I’ve never in my life heard more than one of them! Why are they omitted?[/ul]
Basically she said we do it out of respect to the British. I’m not going to dispute her on this. But we come to the last paragraph of her answer…
[ul]Most of us sing it dreadfully. It’s notoriously difficult [no disagreement there –SN], and we usually sing the first stanza wrong: The last line is written as a question…but we pronounce it as a statement instead.[/ul]

OK, I’m asking this as a former choir and madrigal singer (baritone or bass) who has come across this song on occasion.

How can you sing the last line of stanza one as a question?
If you don’t have a group and sing it in parts, the notes go down in the final part of the phrase (“of the brave?”). Eighth-note F, quarter-note D, dotted-half C (Of course this note is typically held for much longer. Actually the highest note of the whole song on "O’er the land of the free" which falls on a high G.

Ok when one asks a question in English, that doesn’t have a “question word” in the sentence, we tend to end the sentence on a higher note (at leasted the last stressed syllable). You can’t really do that here.

But now that I think about it, the last line is part of a longer phrase. “O say, does that Star Spangled Banner yet wave/ O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”. Isn’t where the word “does” has been placed indicate that it is a question? Or is her complaint that there’s too big of a break between the words “wave” and “O’er”?

Is there any way to thing the last line in this stanza and the last line in the last stanza[sup]*[/sup] using the same notes (allowing for whatever vocal flourishes one may wish to add to the song at the end) do differentiate that the former is a question and the latter is a statement?


[sub]* The last lines of the song go like this:
And conquer we must when our cause 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.[/sub]

Here are the lyrics. I think she’s nuts – heck, it IS a question. How can you not sing it as such?

The only thing I can think of to do is to shrug when you get to the last line.

Really, the inflection is dictated by the notes. Is there another way to indicate a sentence is a question besides using a “question word” or a rising inflection. You can’t use rising inflections if the notes of the song dictate otherwise.

Ms. vos Savant seems to be trying to dazzle us with her grasp of the obvious.

I think part of the problem is that the words to “The Star Spangled Banner” and the tune were not created together. IIRC, FSK wrote the words while watching the battle of Baltimore as a poem and only later were attached to a british drinking song. The match was never perfect, but for a bunch of hearty Americans it was good enough. Remember these were not folks defined by their regality. I will find links later…

The other three verses use the same music, correct? Yet 2 of them end in exclamation points and one with a period.

I too think she screwed this one up. Using the word “pronounce” instead of “inflect” was her first mistake, and not understanding that the inflection is not optional was the second.

I love the idea of shrugging at the end, though – maybe with the hands up, in the classic “search me” pose, plus a quizzical expression about the eyebrows.