Gens du pays

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"Gens du pays" has been called the unofficial national anthem of Quebec. Written by poet, songwriter, and avowed Quebec nationalist Gilles Vigneault (with music co-written by Gaston Rochon), it was first performed by Vigneault on June 24, 1975 during a concert on Montreal's Mount Royal at that year's Fête nationale du Québec ceremony. It quickly became a folk classic, and it has been played frequently at Fête nationale ceremonies since then. The chorus is by far the most famous part of the song: Gens du pays, c'est votre tour / De vous laisser parler d'amour, which, translated, says, "Folks of the land, it is your turn to let yourselves talk of love."[1]

The song is also associated with the Quebec sovereignty movement and the sovereigntist Parti Québécois, which use it as a sort of anthem. A famous instance of this took place at René Lévesque's concession speech after the citizens of the province rejected independence in the 1980 Quebec referendum. At the end of Lévesque's speech, the crowd assembled to hear him speak stood up at the end of the speech and sang "Gens du pays", which Lévesque called "the most beautiful Québécois song in the minds of all Quebecers."

Lyrics[edit]

Original French Translation
Le temps qu'on a pris pour se dire «je t'aime»

C'est le seul qui reste au bout de nos jours
Les vœux que l'on fait, les fleurs que l'on sème
Chacun les récolte en soi-même
Aux beaux jardins du temps qui court

The time we took to tell each other "I love you"

It's the only thing left at the end of our days
The vows we make, the flowers we sow
Each one of us harvests them in ourselves
In the beautiful gardens of flowing time

{refrain}

Gens du pays, c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour
Gens du pays c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour

{refrain}

People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love
People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love

Le temps de s'aimer, le jour de le dire

Fond comme la neige aux doigts du printemps
Fêtons de nos joies, fêtons de nos rires
Ces yeux où nos regards se mirent
C'est demain que j'avais vingt ans

The time to love one another, the day to say it

Melts like the snow in the fingers of spring
Let us feast on our joys, let us feast on our laughter
Those eyes where our gazes meet
It's tomorrow that I was 20 years old

{refrain}

Gens du pays, c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour
Gens du pays c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour

{refrain}

People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love
People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love

Le ruisseau des jours aujourd'hui s'arrête

Et forme un étang où chacun peut voir
Comme en un miroir l'amour qu'il reflète
Pour ces cœurs à qui je souhaite
Le temps de vivre nos espoirs

The river of days stops today

Forming a pond where each one can see
Like in a mirror, the love it reflects
For these hearts, for whom I wish
The time to live our hopes

{refrain}

Gens du pays, c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour
Gens du pays c'est votre tour
De vous laisser parler d'amour

{refrain}

People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love
People of the country, it's your turn
To let yourselves talk about love

Birthday adaptation[edit]

In Quebec, a modified version of the chorus is often sung to celebrate a person, for example on a birthday (in the specific case of the birthday, the idea was explicitly introduced by Gilles Vigneault in 1975):

Mon cher ami (or Ma chère amie), c'est à ton tour
De te laisser parler d'amour.

("My dear friend, it's your turn / To allow yourself to speak of love.")

Alternatively, "ami(e)" (friend) is replaced with the name of the person being celebrated.

For instance, at René Lévesque's funeral, mourners outside the church broke out singing "Mon cher René, c'est à ton tour, de te laisser parler d'amour"

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Gens du pays". The Canadian Songwriters Virtual Hall of Fame. February 2006. Retrieved 2012-07-06.