'Hail To The Chief': The Official Anthem Of The U.S. President We'll explore the history of "Hail to the Chief." It will be played twice on Jan. 20, which is Inauguration Day. Once for Barack Obama and once for Donald Trump.

'Hail To The Chief': The Official Anthem Of The U.S. President

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

And let's learn a little more now about a tune that we'll hear twice at the inauguration later this month - once for outgoing President Barack Obama and once for incoming President Donald Trump.

(SOUNDBITE OF U.S. ARMY CEREMONIAL BAND'S PERFORMANCE OF "FOUR RUFFLES AND FLOURISHES, HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

GREENE: "Hail To The Chief," the president's official anthem, was first heard in America 205 years ago.

JOSEPH REZEK: The song was made very, very popular during the war of 1812 by Sir Walter Scott, who was probably the most popular author in the United States. And he was a Scottish author.

GREENE: That is the voice of Joseph Rezek, a professor at Boston University, who studies the overlap between British and American culture. He says "Hail To The Chief" actually grew out of a poem that was turned into a musical play called "Lady Of The Lake."

REZEK: It's set in the medieval period around wars between England and Scotland. One of the songs in that poem is "Hail To The Chief."

(SOUNDBITE OF HESPERUS: EARLY MUSIC ENSEMBLE'S PERFORMANCE OF "FOUR RUFFLES AND FLOURISHES, HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

GREENE: Ooh, the Celtic version there. The chief in "Hail To The Chief" was a ruthless Scottish chieftain named Roderick Dhu.

REZEK: He's the leader of a clan - a Highland clan who has sworn against the English. We have, in our nation, thought of the presidency as a very dignified, respectable role. And this song really is about a leader who's not a statesman, who is basically destroyed by his inability to adapt to circumstances.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

WASHINGTON MEN'S CAMERATA: (Singing) Hail to the Chief who in triumph advances...

GREENE: "Hail To The Chief" actually does have lyrics, lyrics that have changed a lot over the years. The version we know now originated around 1840, and that is when it became the official presidential theme - no kilt required.

(SOUNDBITE OF WASHINGTON MEN'S CAMERATA SONG, "HAIL TO THE CHIEF")

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