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God Save the Queen

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This article is about the UK & Commonwealth Royal Anthem. For the Sex Pistols song, see God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols song)

"God Save the Queen" is a patriotic song whose author is unknown. It is traditionally used as the national anthem of the United Kingdom and the royal anthem of Canada and the other Commonwealth realms, as well as the royal anthem of the British Royal Family. When the British monarch is male it becomes "God Save the King", as it was originally sung.

It should be noted that there is no authorised version. Indeed the anthem has never been officially adopted by Royal Proclamation nor Act of Parliament. In general only one, or rarely two, verses are ever sung [1]. There has been some debate about replacing "God Save the Queen" with "Jerusalem", another popular patriotic song, in England.

Table of contents
1 History
2 Use in the Commonwealth
3 Use elsewhere
4 Other UK anthems
5 Performance
6 Lyrics
7 Lyrics
8 Footnote
9 External links
10 See also

History

It's now generally thought that the melody was composed in its present form by Dr Henry Carey, although many of the musical phrases were present in various earlier melodies, leading to some confusion.

The first public performance of the work is now believed to be when Carey sang it during a dinner in 1740 in honour of Admiral Edward Vernon who had captured the Spanish harbour of Porto Bello (then in Colombia, now Panama during the War of Jenkins' Ear.)

Traditionally, the first performance was thought to have been in 1745, when it was sung in support of George II after a defeat by the Jacobite claimant to the British throne, "Bonnie Prince Charlie", who had widespread Scottish support. This support caused the later attachment of a verse, shown last in the list below, which has an anti-Scottish sentiment, and is rarely (if ever) sung nowadays.

Use in the Commonwealth

It was formerly used as a national anthem by most of the Commonwealth Realms, including Australia, Canada, and Jamaica. It has since been replaced by "Advance Australia Fair," "O Canada," and "Jamaica, Land We Love" respectively, though it remains those countries' royal anthem. It continues to be recognised as the national anthem of New Zealand, together with "God Defend New Zealand". It is also the former national anthem of Ireland, replaced in the 1920s by Amhrán na bhFiann (in English, 'The Soldier's Song').

Use elsewhere

"God Save the Queen" was the very first song to be used as a national anthem, and its tune was either used as or officially adopted as the national anthem for several other countries, including those of Denmark, Germany (unofficial), Russia (until 1833), Sweden and Switzerland.

The tune is still used as the national anthem of Liechtenstein. This was a source of embarassment to Winter Olympic officials in 1980 when Hanni Wenzell won this country's first gold medal ever, and they had no record of her country's national anthem. It is also the melody to the popular United States song My Country, Tis of Thee. The rock band Queen played "God Save the Queen" at the end of all of their concerts.

Other UK anthems

Frequently, when an anthem is needed for one of the component countries of the UK -- at an international sporting event, for instance -- an alternate song is used: In international football matches England uses God Save the Queen while Scotland uses Flower of Scotland and Wales uses Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau.

Performance

Traditionally the tune is played at a slow and sombre pace which many consider to be dreary. Occasionally events use a faster and livelier beat to reduce that effect. Comedian Billy Connolly performed a sketch broadcast on TV comparing the UK's slow tune to the lively ones of many other nations and suggested that it should be replaced by the theme tune to The Archers.

In 1977 during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver jubilee, a punk rock band called the Sex Pistols released an anarchistic and anti-royalist song with the same title. Attempting to play the song from a boat on the river Thames outside The Palace of Westminster on the Jubilee holiday itself (a day which was billed as a national party), the band was arrested by the British police. See: God Save the Queen (Sex Pistols).

The anthem was traditionally played at closedown on BBC1, BBC2 and ITV. BBC2 and ITV dropped this practice in the early 1990s, but it continued on BBC1 until December 1997.

During the Queen's Golden Jubilee pop concert at Buckingham Palace on June 4, 2002, Brian May performed the anthem on electric guitar from the palace roof.

Lyrics

Since "God Save the Queen" is the Royal Anthem of Canada, the first verse has been translated into French for use in that country, as shown below. As sung in English in Canada, "God Save the Queen" has an additional English verse, sung after the first or second verse, which is also given below.

Lyrics

1
God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.
2
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
''To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen 1.
3
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter thine enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.
4
Not in this land alone,
But be God's mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world over.
5
From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the Queen!
O'er her thine arm extend,
For Britain's sake defend,
Our mother, prince, and friend,
God save the Queen!
6
Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
And like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush.
God save the Queen!

First verse in French, as sung in Canada

Dieu protège la reine
De sa main souveraine!
Vive la reine!
Qu'un règne glorieux,
Long et victorieux
Rende son peuple heureux.
Vive la reine!

Additional verse sung in Canada

Our loved Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
Loyal, united, free
True to herself and Thee
God save the Queen3.

Footnote

  1. This last line is alternatively: "Forever more".

External links

See also