Baltimore organist deserves more credit for 'Star Spangled Banner'

December 01, 2010

I read with great interest the article "Rare copy of the 'Star Spangled Banner' goes on the auction block" (Nov. 30), but I feel that the publisher of the item to be auctioned, Thomas Carr, continues to not get the recognition he deserves.

Carr not only ran a music store but was also the organist at Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church. While Chris Coover, a senior book and manuscript specialist at Christie's auction house says that "[Carr] may not have known that Francis Scott Key was the author," Key most certainly did know him since Key was a strong Episcopalian and a good friend of the Old St. Paul's rector at that time, Bishop Kemp.

It is pretty clear that Francis Scott Key had the tune "To Anacreon in Heaven" in mind for his poem, but he was not a musician. Because Key had close relationships with the parish, "Key took his problem to the Carrs," according to our history book "Saint Paul's Parish."

Even more than that, I find that Thomas Carr is an overlooked participant in the "Star Spangled Banner" story. The original sheet music bears the words "Adapt. and Arrg, by T.C." "T.C." is of course Thomas Carr. I hope as the 200th anniversary of our National Anthem occurs, Thomas Carr will get his due.

The Rev. Mark Stanley, Baltimore

The writer is rector of Old St. Paul's Episcopal Church.

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