Monday, May 9, 2016

It's Only 2 Words, Dammit!

It appears that MP Mauril Bélanger's private member's bill to change two words in O'Canada has created a firestorm in that vitriolic haven known as Facebook. The following is a posting I recently made there because of the image below and all the hateful comments it generated.

With all those fine folk lamenting a potential change to the lyrics of the first verse of O'Canada, you'd think this had been the official anthem of Canada since Confederation and the country would disintegrate if any changes are made. Well folks, a few facts (adapted from numerous online history sites):

1. The song was originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony; Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. 

2. From 1867, The Maple Leaf Forever and God Save The Queen competed for the role of the Canadian anthem, until 1901 when the Richardson version of O'Canada finally joined the fray.

3. Robert Stanley Weir wrote another English version in 1908 which used the phrase "thou dost in us command". 

"O Canada! Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North, strong and free;
And stand on guard, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! O Canada!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee.

4. The Weir version was changed in 1913, 1914, and 1916. In 1913, "The Common School Book of Vocal Music", published by the Educational Book Company of Toronto, used the phrase "in all thy sons command". (Hmmm.. might the Suffragette Movement or WWI had anything to do with that?)

5. In 1967, the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems recommended the existing Weir version with a few minor changes, for the English words; two of the "stand on guard" phrases were replaced with "from far and wide" and "God keep our land."

6. It wasn't until the adoption of the National Anthem Act in 1980 and the official proclamation on July 1, 1980 that O'Canada became the official anthem. So it has been the Official Canadian Anthem for not quite 36 years.

7. The original French version (1st verse) has remained the same from the beginning.

So it appears to me that the change from "True patriot love thou dost in us command" to "True patriot love in all thy sons command" was either a snub to the females in the Suffragette Movement or flag-waving to the boys marching off to war. 

So as far as I'm concerned, it makes sense to finally go back to the original "in us command".

At least that's the way I see it  from Between Keyboard and Chair.


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