What were the original words of the musical composition used for "The Star-Spangled Banner"? -- Dan Schneider, of Millstadt
When you stand at attention during the playing of our national anthem, you are toasting our flag more than you may realize.
The melody comes from "The Anacreon Song" (also known as "To Anacreon in Heaven"), the official song of the Anacreontic Society, an 18th-century club of amateur male musicians in London.
According to club member John Samuel Stevens, the music was written by fellow member John Stafford Smith to fit lyrics by Society President Ralph Tomlinson. According to Raymond Glover's "The Hymnal 1982 Companion, Vol. 3," it is thought text and tune may have originated between 1775 and 1777 because it was first published by The Vocal Magazine in 1778.
In any case, the London society named itself after the Greek lyric poet Anacreon, whose poems -- often called "anacreontics" -- were used to entertain the residents of Teos and Athens. His works were probably quite popular because they usually were odes to wine, women and song.
So Tomlinson decided to pay tribute to the old Greek's style when he wrote "To Anacreon in Heaven." (Perhaps it's the English answer to that great German ditty "In Heaven There Is No Beer.") With six verses, it's too lengthy to reproduce here, but let me give you the first verse (sung mostly, of course, to the melody of "The Star-Spangled Banner"):
"To Anacreon in Heav'n, where he sat is full glee; a few Sons of Harmony set a petition that he their Inspirer and Patron would be. When this answer arrived 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' Vine."
One hundred fifty years later, Francis Scott Key's "Defence of Fort McHenry" set to Smith's melody became the national anthem of the U.S. For complete lyrics along with a picture of the score, see "To Anacreon in Heaven" at Wikipedia.
I have been told in the past that every time someone looks at your credit score, it dings your score. I have been seeing all of these commercials for Credit Karma. If you check your own credit score, will it hurt that score?
-- J.K.L., of Belleville
In a word, no. In fact, it would be to your credit to make sure you check your report periodically. You may find inaccuracies that are hurting your score. Once corrected, your score may actually go up. But your personal request to see your report or score will not hurt your score one point.
Here's the reason: Those huge credit monitoring companies -- Experian, TransUnion and Equifax -- differentiate between what are called "soft inquiries" and "hard inquiries."
When you request a credit report for personal use -- whether through www.annualcreditreport.com or www.credit.com or www.creditkarma.com -- it is considered a "soft inquiry." You are requesting it only for your own information. As such, it will have absolutely no impact on your report or your score. The only person who sees it is you.
It's only when you start applying for a car loan or credit card that you may start to see your credit score go down.
When you apply for new credit, the store or bank has to access your credit report to see if you are credit-worthy. In so doing, Experian or whoever provides that information thinks, "Aha! We've got someone looking for more credit. They may be having financial difficulties. Even if they aren't, they still might be considered a little more financially risky since their credit limit is going up. For that reason, we'll drop their score a few points."
If you're a wise credit user like myself, you still don't have much to worry about. Credit card companies hate me because I pay them in full monthly and still reap their rewards. So, even if I apply for a new card for a special offer, my credit score might drop two or three points. Big deal. ( "New credit" accounts for just 10 percent of that FICO score, according to credit.com.)
However, if you're continually opening or even applying for new lines of credit so you can rob Peter to pay Paul, as the saying goes, you may see your score drop appreciably. The result can be higher interest rates when you borrow, or even loan denials.
But when it comes to your question, I recommend checking one of those credit reporting companies' reports every four months in rotation to make sure they have all their facts right. And if you're pretty sure you have a solid score (as I do), I'd probably skip the credit-card spam that you may wind up with at creditkarma.com, et al., and stick with the free government-guaranteed, no-obligation reports at www.annualcreditreport.com.
What popular singer took her stage name from the sponsor of her first radio show?
Answer to Tuesday's trivia: The word "dope" comes from the Dutch "doop," meaning sauce or gravy. However, who knows what people may put into that sauce, so in English it defined any mixture of unknown or suspicious ingredients -- hence, its connection with illegal drugs.
Send your questions to Roger Schlueter, Belleville News-Democrat, 120 S. Illinois St., P.O. Box 427, Belleville, IL 62222-0427 or email@example.com or call 618-239-2465.