Celebrating A Star-Spangled Anthem ... That's Really Hard To Sing

"The Star-Spangled Banner" spans one and a half octaves. Above, Samu Manoa, Scott Lavalla and Cameron Dolan of the USA Eagles sing the anthem before the opening qualifying match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup. i i

hide caption"The Star-Spangled Banner" spans one and a half octaves. Above, Samu Manoa, Scott Lavalla and Cameron Dolan of the USA Eagles sing the anthem before the opening qualifying match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images
"The Star-Spangled Banner" spans one and a half octaves. Above, Samu Manoa, Scott Lavalla and Cameron Dolan of the USA Eagles sing the anthem before the opening qualifying match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

"The Star-Spangled Banner" spans one and a half octaves. Above, Samu Manoa, Scott Lavalla and Cameron Dolan of the USA Eagles sing the anthem before the opening qualifying match of the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

It's been nearly 200 years since Francis Scott Key wrote the words of "The Star-Spangled Banner" as he watched America's flag fly over Fort McHenry during the war of 1812. Set to the melody of a popular English tune, it officially became the national anthem in 1931.

But spanning one and a half octaves, America's national song is awfully hard for the average citizen to sing. So NPR went down to the National Mall on Flag Day and asked folks to give it their best shot (without looking up the lyrics, mind you!)

Plenty of people declined, but a few brave souls stepped up to the challenge. Click the play button above to hear from: Elizabeth Peppercorn, Sue Krantz, Lorraine Rogina, Elaine and Griffin Ferrara, Rebecca and Richard McAlpin, Ryan and Jordan Hurt, Natalie Beckford, Rian Gaskins, Kevin Amon, Georgie Bauer, Suzanne Kalfus, Allie Cohen, Rome Haskett, Adrian Matthews, Paul Young, Rashaha Jones and Sean Peacock.

Sheet music of the lyrics and music of the "Star Spangled Banner" was first printed at Carrs Music store in Baltimore in 1814. Click here to see the image at hi-res (and to read the other three, lesser-known verses).

hide captionSheet music of the lyrics and music of the "Star Spangled Banner" was first printed at Carrs Music store in Baltimore in 1814. Click here to see the image at hi-res (and to read the other three, lesser-known verses).

AP Photo/Christie's Images Ltd.

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