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Hail to the Chief
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  Historical Background, “Hail to the Chief”:

Words: from Sir Walter Scott’s “Lady of the Lake”
Music: by a “James Sanderson,” (may be a pseudonym)
Published: 1812, New York by John Paff

The song proved so popular, it was reissued in 1814, probably because of patriotic fervor surrounding the War of 1812 (against the British, during which the new United States Navy proved itself in the sea battle in which USS Bon Homme Richard captured HMS Serapis, and the British burned the White House.) It was first used ceremonially to honor President James Polk at his inauguration in 1852 and has been used ever since to announce the ceremonial entrance of U.S. Presidents. President Chester Arthur hated it and asked John Phillip Sousa, in 1888, to write something better. Sousa wrote “Semper Fideles,” which was taken immediately as the signature music for the Marines, since it used the Marine slogan, and therefore could not be used for Presidents.

“Hail to the Chief,” is prescribed by modern protocol as for the exclusive use of the President. Five “Ruffles and Flourishes,” a military fanfare which is used to announce various ranks (Vice President - four; Speaker of the House of Representatives - three; CIC, Joint Chiefs of Staff - two; other Head of State - one), give time for the President to proceed in a stately and seemly fashion to the center of activities, silence the audience and assure their reverent attention. With its “Scottish Snap” rhythm and rising pitch in a major key, “Hail to the Chief” ensures an upbeat, lively, and expectant mood. This is in contrast to Wagner’s “Wedding March” from Lohengrin, which is majestic and largely connected with Queen Victoria’s use of it at her wedding to Prince Albert. Princess Diana’s use of Purcell’s “Trumpet Voluntary in D,” is now more popular, probably because it is older. Other examples of ceremonial entry music are “The Olympic Theme,” which is much more heroic, and “Taps,” which is solemnly sad and connected with day’s end and death.

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