Francis Scott Key (1779-1843), was an American poet and lawyer from Maryland who went on a diplomatic mission to free a popular American doctor held captive aboard the British flagship in Chesapeake Bay. Francis Scott Key's ship was commandeered by the British and he was forced to watch as the British unmercifully bombarded the American Fort McHenry. On that fateful night of September 14, 1814, he wrote:
O! Thus be it ever when free men shall stand
Between their loved home and the war's desolation;
Blest with vict'ry and peace, may the Heav'n-rescued land
Praise the Pow'r that hath made and preserved us a nation!
Then conquer we must, when our cause it 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!
- Tim LaHaye, Faith of Our Founding Fathers (Brentwood, TN: Wolgemuth & Hyatt, Publishers, Inc., 1987), p. 95.
As a poet, Francis Scott Key also expressed an unusual depth:
Praise for Pardoning Grace
Lord, with glowing heart I'd praise Thee
For the bliss Thy love bestows;
For the pardoning grace that saves me,
And the peace that from it flows.
Help, O God, my weak endeavor,
This dull soul to rapture raise;
Thou must light the flame, or never
Can my love be warmed to praise.
- Praise for Pardoning Grace. Stephen Abbott Northrop, D.D., A Cloud of Witnesses (Portland, Oregon: American Heritage Ministries, 1987), p. 267.
In an oration delivered before the Washington Society of Alexandria of February 22, 1812, Francis Scott Key declared:
"The patriot who feels himself in the service of God, who acknowledges Him in all his ways, has the promise of Almighty direction, and will find His Word in his greatest darkness, 'a lantern to his feet and a lamp unto his paths'.... He will therefore seek to establish for his country in the eyes of the world, such a character as shall make her not unworthy of the name of a Christian nation...." - February 22, 1812, in An Oration before the Washington Society of Alexandria, p. 9. Library of Congress Rare Book Collection. Catherine Millard, A Children's Companion Guide to America's History (Camp Hill, PA: Horizon House Publishers, 1993), p. 1.