To Anachreon in Heaven Lyrics

To Anachreon in Heaven was the theme song for a group of amateur musicians in London in the late 18th century called the Anachreontic Society. Anachreon was a Greek poet known for his poems about love and wine. The song was written around 1775. The words are attributed to Ralph Tomlinson and the music to John Stafford Smith. The tune was well known in the American colonies and was used by Robert Treat Paine, a Pennsylvania signer of the Declaration of Independence, in his song Adams and Liberty in 1798. Later, it was the tune used by Francis Scott Key when he wrote the Star Spangled Banner in 1813.

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You can read the Star Spangled Banner lyrics here. Learn more about the history of the Star Spangled Banner Flag and listen to some of the most popular recordings of the Star Spangled Banner at our Star Spangled Banner Flag page. 

Listen to a recording of the first verse of To Anachreon in Heaven here.

The Smithsonian Institution, which houses and displays the original Star Spangled Banner Flag, had a recording made using 19th century instruments from its own collection to show how the Star Spangled Banner would have sounded to a 19th century audience, using an 1854 arrangement of the song by composer GWE Friederich. Listen to this authentic recording of The Star Spangled Banner, set to the tune of To Anachreon in Heaven here.

Thanks to the Smithsonian Institution for these recordings!

To Anachreon in Heaven


To ANACREON in Heav'n, where he sat in full Glee,
A few Sons of Harmony sent a Petition,
That He their Inspirer and Patron wou'd be;
When this Answer arriv'd from the JOLLY OLD GRECIAN
"Voice, Fiddle, and Flute,
No longer be mute,
I'll lend you my Name and inspire you to boot,
And, besides, I'll instruct you like me, to intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS's Vine."


The news through OLYMPUS immediately flew;
When OLD THUNDER pretended to give himself Airs
If these Mortals are suffer'd their Scheme to pursue,
The Devil a Goddess will stay above Stairs.
"Hark! already they cry,
In Transports of Joy
Away to the Sons of ANACREON we'll fly,
And there, with good Fellows, we'll learn to intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine."


"The YELLOW-HAIR'D GOD and his nine fusty Maids
From HELICON'S Banks will incontinent flee,
IDALIA will boast but of tenantless Shades,
And the bi-forked Hill a mere Desart will be
My Thunder, no fear on't,
Shall soon do it's Errand,
And, dam'me! I'll swinge the Ringleaders I warrant,
I'll trim the young Dogs, for thus daring to twine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine."


APOLLO rose up; and said, "Pr'ythee ne'er quarrel,
Good King of the Gods with my Vot'ries below:
Your Thunder is useless then, shewing his Laurel,"
Cry'd. "Sic evitabile fulmen, you know!
Then over each Head
My Laurels I'll spread
So my Sons from your Crackers no Mischief shall dread,
Whilst snug in their Club-Room, they Jovially twine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine."


Next MOMUS got up, with his risible Phiz,
And swore with APOLLO he'd cheerfull join
"The full Tide of Harmony still shall be his,
But the Song, and the Catch, & the Laugh shall bemine
Then, JOVE, be not jealous
Of these honest Fellows,"
Cry'd JOVE, "We relent, since the Truth you now tell us;
And swear, by OLD STYX, that they long shall entwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine."


Ye Sons of ANACREON, then, join Hand in Hand;
Preserve Unanimity, Friendship, and Love!
'Tis your's to support what's so happily plann'd;
You've the Sanction of Gods, and the FIAT of JOVE.
While thus we agree
Our Toast let it be.
May our Club flourish happy, united and free!
And long may the Sons of ANACREON intwine
The Myrtle of VENUS with BACCHUS'S Vine.

Published October 10/24/11

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