God Save The King | UK National Anthem and Its History

God Save The King | UK National Anthem and Its History

God Save The King | UK National Anthem

The British will have to change a habit that dates back to 1952: now, after the death of Queen Elizabeth II, Thursday September 8, 2022, the British anthem becomes God Save The King. For seven decades, the English sang God Save The Queen, in homage to the queen. In addition, the lyrics of the anthem will all be masculinized, to pay homage to the now King of England, Charles III.

Also note that God Save The King is one of the two national anthems of New Zealand, but also the royal anthem in Australia and Canada, two countries which have a national anthem different from this song. After the death of Elizabeth II, the God Save The Queen, sung since February 6, 1952, the date of the Queen’s accession to the throne, once again became the God Save The King known during the reign of her father, George VI, i.e. a song adopted as the national anthem in 1745.

Lyrics to God Save The King:

God save our gracious King!
Long live our noble King!
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the King!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter his enemies,
And make them fall:
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix:
God save us all.

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On him be pleased to pour;
Long may he reign:
May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
With heart and voice to sing,
God save the King!

God save the Queen, the story of the British anthem

It is certainly one of the most famous songs associated with England. God save the Queen is heard everywhere: a football match, a parade, a ceremony, a princely wedding… And for good reason, God save the Queen is one of the British national anthems. As well known as it is, this song has a long history which makes its importance greater.

The anal fistula of Louis XIV at the origin of God save the Queen

Louis xiv of france We are in 1688. King James II Stuart is forced into exile in France to flee the Glorious Revolution. To get rid of this Catholic king who wanted to establish an absolute French-style monarchy, English nobles called on the Dutch Stadtholder William of Orange and his wife Marie, who was none other than the eldest daughter of Jacques II. In addition to this, James II and his second wife gave birth to a boy also baptized according to the Catholic rite. The English feared that a new Catholic dynasty would seize the throne from Saint Edward.

For those who don’t know… Anal fistula or anus fistula is a disease that occurs due to an anal abscess (pink to dark red soft tissue caused by infection) that does not heal completely, leaving a small hole or channel in the skin near the anus. .

Jacques II is welcomed by his cousin Louis XIV who offers him the castle of Saint-Germain-en-Laye as a refuge. Two years earlier, the Sun King had been cured of an anal fistula during a revolutionary operation. To celebrate this success, the king’s composer Jean-Baptiste Lully composed an aria which he called God save the King. This song was a real popular success to the point that in 1688, it reached the ears of the deposed king of England.

James II appreciates this tune so much that he wishes to make it his anthem when he again ascends the throne of England. In the meantime, it becomes the rallying cry of sympathizers of Jacques II. Former King Stuart never renounced the English crown. He tried several times to organize armed landings on the British Isles, but in vain. His claims were taken up by his descendants on his death in 1701 and with them, singing remains the patriotic symbol of the Jacobites.

In 1714, Queen Anne Stuart died without living descendants. Following the signing of the Act of Establishment in 1701, only George of Hanover was able to succeed him because of his Protestant religion. The new dynasty is considered by the Jacobites as usurpers. Jacobite stiffs follow one another but without success. The Redcoats are far too powerful against these ill-equipped Catholics allied with the Scots.

In 1745, following the last landing of Charles Edward Stuart, there is no doubt that the victory of Hanover is total. George II definitely wants to impose himself and make people forget these Jacobite episodes in British history. And what better way than to appropriate their patriotic song to make it the national anthem? God Save the King is translated into English by Reverend Henry Carrey and set to music by Royal Composer Georg Friedrich Handel. Thus was born the current version of God save the Queen.

The anthem of a whole nation

Although today known as God save the Queen, the song was originally titled God save the King. It’s very simple, it is a song composed in honor of the sovereign and the greatness of the United Kingdom.

The lyrics are actually set to a quote from Psalm 20 verse 9 of the New Testament, split into three verses. The title changes according to the sex of the sovereign. When it comes to a king we will sing God save the King, while when a queen ascends the throne, the British will sing God save the Queen. But this is the only change over time. Since the anthem is sung in honor of the ruler, he is the only individual never to sing it.

Today, contrary to popular belief, the United Kingdom does not have an official national anthem, but several songs that are considered to be so. Nevertheless, the God save the Queen is the anthem used by the government and the most popular throughout the world.

In addition to the United Kingdom, the God save the Queen is also one of the national anthems of New Zealand. It is also the royal anthem of Australia, Canada, Jamaica, Barbados, Mauritius, Bahamas, Grenada, Solomon and Belize. Thus, it is sung in the presence of one of the members of the royal family.

A hymn that has crossed borders

The God save the Queen has not only charmed the French and the British. Some great visitors of British sovereigns brought back to their country the song which they then popularized in their nation. This is the case, for example, of Germany.

“Heil dir im Siegerkranz” (German for “Hail to Thee in Victor’s Crown”) was the unofficial national anthem of the German Empire from 1871 to 1918.

German Emperor Wilhelm II is the grandson of Queen Victoria. He stayed many times in England. William II wants to make his empire the first world power like Great Britain. He then appropriated the God save the Queen by having it translated into German. Thus, until the fall of the Germanic Empire in 1918, it remained the German national anthem.

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Sources: PinterPandai, BBC, Café Polyglotte, Margo Lestz – The Curious Rambler

Main photo credit: Date: October 1745. Source: The Gentleman’s Magazine (Public Domain) via Wikimedia Commons


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