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Sufjan Stevens Explains His Faith-Inspired Version of ‘The Star-Spangled Banner’

Sufjan Stevens recently took the stage at the Tibet House’s 30th annual benefit concert at Carnegie Hall with the Patti Smith band, and performed his own, faith-inspired version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” The song (which was first recorded five years ago), contains lyrics that question nationalism, violence and the role of faith in American culture.

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And our flag marked with blood, with the blood of our hands / And our hands marked with death, with the blood of the man / And the man on the cross, and the cross on our hearts. Has it done nothing more, than to drive us apart?

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(You can hear the original recording here.)

In this introduction to the song posted to Instagram, Stevens says:

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My prayer is that we begin to move our hearts, our minds, our bodies in the direction of love, wisdom, and common sense. Until then, we’d like to sing a theme song for this present darkness.

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