God Save the Queen
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2007)|
Publication of an early version in The Gentleman's Magazine, 15 October 1745. The title, on the contents page, is given as "God save our lord the king: A new song set for two voices".
National and/or royal anthem of
|Also known as||"God Save the King"
(when the monarch is male)
|Lyrics||Henry Carey, 1790|
"God Save the Queen" (alternatively "God Save the King" during the reign of a male sovereign) is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown Dependencies. The words and title are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, i.e. replacing "Queen" with "King", "she" with "he", and so forth, when a king reigns. The author of the tune is unknown, and it may originate in plainchant, but a 1619 attribution to John Bull is sometimes made.
"God Save the Queen" is the de facto British national anthem and also has this role in some British territories. It is one of two national anthems for New Zealand (since 1977) and for several of Britain's territories that have their own additional local anthem. It is the royal anthem of Australia (since 1984), Canada (since 1980), Barbados, Jamaica, and Tuvalu. In countries not previously part of the British Empire, the tune of "God Save the Queen" has provided the basis for various patriotic songs, though still generally connected with royal ceremony. In the United States, the British anthem's melody is used for the patriotic "My Country, 'Tis of Thee".
Beyond its first verse, which is consistent, it has many historic and extant versions: Since its first publication, different verses have been added and taken away and, even today, different publications include various selections of verses in various orders. In general, only one verse is sung. Sometimes two verses are sung, and on rare occasions, three.
The sovereign and his or her consort are saluted with the entire anthem, while other members of the royal family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales) receive just the first six bars. The first six bars also form all or part of the Vice Regal Salute in some Commonwealth realms outside the UK (e.g., in Canada, governors general and lieutenant governors at official events are saluted with the first six bars of "God Save the Queen" followed by the first four and last four bars of "O Canada"), as well as the salute given to governors of British overseas territories.
- 1 History
- 2 Use in the United Kingdom
- 2.1 Lyrics in Britain
- 2.2 Performance in the United Kingdom
- 2.3 Other British anthems
- 3 Use in other Commonwealth countries
- 4 Use elsewhere
- 5 Musical adaptations
- 6 Notes
- 7 External links
In The Oxford Companion to Music, Percy Scholes points out the similarities to an early plainsong melody, although the rhythm is very distinctly that of a galliard, and he gives examples of several such dance tunes that bear a striking resemblance to "God Save the King/Queen". Scholes quotes a keyboard piece by John Bull (1619) which has some similarities to the modern tune, depending on the placing of accidentals which at that time were unwritten in certain cases and left to the discretion of the player (see musica ficta). He also points to several pieces by Henry Purcell, one of which includes the opening notes of the modern tune, set to the words "God Save the King". George Frideric Händel used the tune as the theme in the variation piece 'Sarabande' of his Suite No.4 in E minor, HWV 429, composed prior to 1720. Nineteenth century scholars and commentators mention the widespread belief that an old Scots carol, "Remember O Thou Man" was the source of the tune.
The first published version of what is almost the present tune appeared in 1744 in Thesaurus Musicus. The 1744 version of the song was popularised in Scotland and England the following year, with the landing of Charles Edward Stuart and was published in The Gentleman's Magazine (see illustration above). This manuscript has the tune depart from that which is used today at several points, one as early as the first bar, but is otherwise clearly a strong relative of the contemporary anthem. It was recorded as being sung in London theatres in 1745, with, for example, Thomas Arne writing a setting of the tune for the Drury Lane Theatre.
Scholes' analysis includes mention of "untenable" and "doubtful" claims, as well as "an American misattribution". Some of these are:
- The French Marquise de Créquy wrote in her book "Souvenirs", that the tune Grand Dieu Sauve Le Roi, was written by Jean-Baptiste Lully in gratitude for the survival by Louis XIV of an anal fistula operation. The surgical knife that was purpose built for the occasion is at display in the Musée d'histoire de la médecine. Lully set words by the Duchess of Brinon to music, and de Créquy claims the tune was later plagiarised by Handel. Translated in Latin under the name Domine, Salvum Fac Regem, it became the French anthem until 1792. After the Battle of Culloden, the Hanover dynasty supposedly then adopted this melody as the British anthem.
- James Oswald: He is a possible author of the Thesaurus Musicus, so may have played a part in the history of the song, but is not a strong enough candidate to be cited as the composer of the tune.
- Dr Henry Carey: Scholes refutes this attribution, first on the grounds that Carey himself never made such a claim. Second, when the claim was made by Carey's son (as late as 1795), it was accompanied by a request for a pension from the British Government on that score. Third, the younger Carey claimed that his father had written parts of it in 1745, even though the older Carey had died in 1743. It has also been claimed that the work was first publicly performed by Carey during a dinner in 1740 in honour of Admiral Edward "Grog" Vernon, who had captured the Spanish harbour of Porto Bello (then in Colombia, now Panama) during the War of Jenkins' Ear.
Scholes recommends the attribution "traditional" or "traditional; earliest known version by John Bull (1562–1628)". The English Hymnal (musical editor Ralph Vaughan Williams) gives no attribution, stating merely "17th or 18th cent."
Use in the United Kingdom
"God Save the Queen" is the national anthem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Like many aspects of British constitutional life, its official status derives from custom and use, not from Royal Proclamation or Act of Parliament. In general only one or two verses are sung, but on rare occasions three. The variation in Britain of the lyrics to "God Save the Queen" is the oldest amongst those currently used, and forms the basis on which all other versions used throughout the Commonwealth are formed; though, again, the words have varied throughout these years.
England has no official national anthem of its own; "God Save the Queen" is treated as the English national anthem when England is represented at sporting events (though there are some exceptions to this rule). There is a movement to establish an English national anthem, with Blake and Parry's "Jerusalem" and Elgar's "Land of Hope and Glory" among the top contenders. Scotland has it's own national song and Wales has its own national anthem for political and national events and for use at international football, rugby union and other sports in which those nations compete independently. On all occasions Wales' national anthem is "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" (Land of my Fathers). Scotland has no single anthem; "Scotland the Brave" was traditionally used until the 1990s, when "Flower of Scotland" was adopted. In Northern Ireland, "God Save the Queen" is still used as the official anthem.
The phrase "No surrender" is occasionally sung in the bridge before "Send her victorious" by England football fans at matches. The phrase no surrender is associated with Combat 18, a white supremacist group. The phrase is also associated with Ulster Loyalism and can sometimes be heard at the same point before Northern Ireland football matches.
Since 2003, "God Save the Queen", considered an all inclusive Anthem for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, as well as other countries within the Commonwealth, has been dropped from the Commonwealth Games. Northern Irish athletes receive their gold medals to the tune of the "Londonderry Air", popularly known as "Danny Boy". In 2006, English winners heard Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, usually known as "Land of Hope and Glory", but after a poll conducted by the Commonwealth Games Council for England prior to the 2010 Games, "Jerusalem" was adopted as England's new Commonwealth Games anthem. In sports in which the UK competes as one nation, most notably as Great Britain at the Olympics, "God Save the Queen" is used to represent anyone or any team that comes from the United Kingdom.
Lyrics in Britain
The phrase "God Save the King" is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible. A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, "...And all the people rejoic'd, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen", has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973. Scholes says that as early as 1545 "God Save the King" was a watchword of the Royal Navy, with the response being "Long to reign over us". He also notes that the prayer read in churches on anniversaries of the Gunpowder Plot includes words which might have formed part of the basis for the second verse "Scatter our enemies... assuage their malice and confound their devices".
In 1745, The Gentleman's Magazine published "God save our lord the king: A new song set for two voices", describing it "As sung at both Playhouses" (the Theatres Royal at Drury Lane and Covent Garden). Traditionally, the first performance was thought to have been in 1745, when it was sung in support of King George II, after his defeat at the Battle of Prestonpans by the army of Charles Edward Stuart, son of James Francis Edward Stuart, the Jacobite claimant to the British throne.
It is sometimes claimed that, ironically, the song was originally sung in support of the Jacobite cause: the word "send" in the line "Send him victorious" could imply that the king was absent. However, the Oxford English Dictionary cites examples of '[God] send (a person) safe, victorious, etc.' meaning 'God grant that he may be safe, etc.'. Also there are examples of early eighteenth century Jacobean drinking glasses which are inscribed with a version of the words and were apparently intended for drinking the health of King James II and VII.
Scholes acknowledges these possibilities but argues that the same words were probably being used by both Jacobite and Hanoverian supporters and directed at their respective kings.
In 1902, the musician William Hayman Cummings, quoting mid-18th century correspondence between Charles Burney and Sir Joseph Banks, proposed that the words were based on a Latin verse composed for King James II at the Chapel Royal.
- O Deus optime
- Salvum nunc facito
- Regem nostrum;
- Sic laeta victoria
- Comes et gloria
- Salvum iam facito
- Tu dominum.
Standard version in the United Kingdom
God Save The Queen (standard version)
When the monarch of the time is male, "Queen" is replaced with "King" and all female pronouns (emboldened) are replaced with male pronouns. In addition, the lyrics of the 3rd verse (italicised) are slightly modified to read: "With heart and voice to sing, / God save the King".
There is no definitive version of the lyrics. However, the version consisting of the three verses reproduced in the blue box on the right hand side has the best claim to be regarded as the 'standard' British version, appearing not only in the 1745 Gentleman's Magazine, but also in publications such as The Book of English Songs: From the Sixteenth to the Nineteenth Century (1851), National Hymns: How They Are Written and How They Are Not Written (1861), Household Book of Poetry (1882), and Hymns Ancient and Modern, Revised Version (1982). English crowds (for example, at international football games) sometimes sing "God save our Queen" rather than "God save the Queen."
The same version with verse two omitted appears in publications including Scouting for boys (1908), and on the British Government's "Monarchy Today" website. At the Queen's Golden Jubilee Party at the Palace concert, Prince Charles referred in his speech to the "politically incorrect second verse" of the National Anthem.
According to Alan Michie's Rule, Britannia, which was published in 1952, after the death of King George VI but prior to the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II, the first General Assembly of the United Nations was held in London in January 1946 and the King, in honour of the occasion, "ordered the belligerent imperious second stanza of 'God Save the King' rewritten to bring it more into the spirit of the brotherhood of nations."
In the United Kingdom, the first verse is the only verse typically sung, even at official occasions, although the third verse is sung in addition on rare occasions, and usually at the Last Night of the Proms. At the Closing Ceremony of the 2008 Beijing Olympics, the fourth verse of the William Hickson alternative lyrics was sung instead of the third verse.
Originally, before the turn of the 20th century, there were 5 verses to "God Save the Queen"
- God save our gracious Queen,
- Live long our noble Queen,
- God save the Queen!
- Send her victorious,
- Happy and glorious,
- Long to reign over us,
- God save the Queen.
- 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!
- God bless our native land,
- May heaven's protective hand
- Still guard our shore;
- May peace her power extend,
- Foe be transformed to friend,
- And Britain's power depend
- On war no more.
- May just and righteous laws
- Uphold the public cause,
- And bless our isle.
- Home of the brave and free,
- Fair land and liberty,
- We pray that still on thee
- Kind heaven may smile.
- And not this land alone-
- But be thy mercies known
- From shore to shore.
- Lord, make the nations see
- That men should brothers be,
- And from one family
- The wide world o'er.
Standard version of the music
The standard version of the melody is still that of the original, and in the same key of G, though the start of the anthem is often signalled by an introductory timpani roll of two bars length. The bass line of the standard version differs little from the second voice part shown in the original, and there is a standard version in four-part harmony for choirs. The first three lines (six bars of music) are soft, ending with a short crescendo into "Send her victorious", and then is another crescendo at "over us:" into the final words "God save the Queen".
In the early part of the twentieth century there existed a Military Band version, usually played in march time, in the higher key of B♭, because it was easier for brass instruments to play in that key, though it had the disadvantage of being more difficult to sing: however now most Bands play it in the correct key of G.
Alternative British versions
There have been several attempts to improve the song by rewriting the words. In the nineteenth century there was some lively debate about the national anthem and, even then, verse two was considered to be slightly offensive. Notably, the question arose over the phrase "scatter her enemies." Some thought it placed better emphasis on the respective power of Parliament and the Crown to change "her" to "our"; others pointed out that the theology was somewhat dubious and substituted "thine" instead. Sydney G. R. Coles wrote a completely new version, as did Canon F. K. Harford. In 1836, William Edward Hickson wrote four alternative verses. The first, third, and fourth of these verses are appended to the National Anthem in the English Hymnal (which only includes verses one and three of the original lyrics).
William Hickson's alternative version
William Hickson's alternative (1836) version includes the following verses, of which the first, third, and fourth have some currency as they are appended to the National Anthem in the English Hymnal. The fourth verse was sung after the traditional first verse at the Queen's Golden Jubilee National Service of Thanksgiving in 2002 and during the raising of the Union Flag during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.
|William Hickson's text of God Save the Queen|
Official peace version
A less militaristic version of the song, titled "Official peace version, 1919", was first published in the hymn book Songs of Praise in 1925. This was "official" in the sense that it was approved by the British Privy Council in 1919. However, despite being reproduced in some other hymn books, it is largely unknown today.
|Official peace version of God Save the Queen|
Historic additional verses
Around 1745, anti-Jacobite sentiment was captured in a verse appended to the song, with a prayer for the success of Field Marshal George Wade's army then assembling at Newcastle. These words attained some short-term use, although they did not appear in the published version in the October 1745 Gentleman's Magazine. This verse was first documented as an occasional addition to the original anthem by Richard Clark in 1822, and was also mentioned in a later article on the song, published by the Gentleman's Magazine in 1837. Therein, it is presented as an "additional verse... though being of temporary application only... stored in the memory of an old friend... who was born in the very year 1745, and was thus the associate of those who heard it first sung", the lyrics given being:
- 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 King.
The 1837 article and other sources make it clear that this verse was not used soon after 1745, and certainly before the song became accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s. It was included as an integral part of the song in the Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse of 1926, although erroneously referencing the "fourth verse" to the Gentleman's Magazine article of 1745.
On the opposing side, Jacobite beliefs were demonstrated in an alternative verse used during the same period:
- God bless the prince, I pray,
- God bless the prince, I pray,
- Charlie I mean;
- That Scotland we may see
- Freed from vile Presbyt'ry,
- Both George and his Feckie,
- Ever so, Amen.
In May 1800, following an attempt to assassinate King George III at London's Drury Lane theatre, playwright Richard Sheridan immediately composed an additional verse, which was sung from the stage the same night:
- From every latent foe
- From the assassins blow
- God save the King
- O'er him Thine arm extend
- For Britain's sake defend
- Our father, king, and friend
- God save the King!
Various other attempts were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to add verses to commemorate particular royal or national events. For example, according to Fitzroy Maclean, when Jacobite forces bypassed Wade's force and reached Derby, but then retreated and when their garrison at Carlisle Castle surrendered to a second government army led by King George's son, the Duke of Cumberland, another verse was added. Other short-lived verses were notably anti-French, such as the following, quoted in the book Handel by Edward J. Dent:
- From France and Pretender
- Great Britain defend her,
- Foes let them fall;
- From foreign slavery,
- Priests and their knavery,
- And Popish Reverie,
- God save us all.
However, none of these additional verses survived into the twentieth century. Updated "full" versions including additional verses have been published more recently, including the standard three verses, Hickson's fourth verse, Sheridan's verse and the Marshal Wade verse.
Performance in the United Kingdom
The style most commonly heard in official performances was proposed as the "proper interpretation" by King George V, who considered himself something of an expert (in view of the number of times he had heard it). An Army Order was duly issued in 1933, which laid down regulations for tempo, dynamics and orchestration. This included instructions such as that the opening "six bars will be played quietly by the reed band with horns and basses in a single phrase. Cornets and side-drum are to be added at the little scale-passage leading into the second half of the tune, and the full brass enters for the last eight bars". The official tempo for the opening section is a metronome setting of 60, with the second part played in a broader manner, at a metronome setting of 52. In recent years the prescribed sombre-paced introduction is often played at a faster and livelier tempo.
Until the latter part of the 20th century, theatre and concert goers were expected to stand while the anthem was played after the conclusion of a show. In cinemas this brought a tendency for audiences to rush out while the end credits played to avoid this formality.
The anthem was traditionally played at closedown on the BBC, and with the introduction of commercial television to Britain this practice was adopted by some ITV companies (with the notable exception of Granada). BBC Two never played the anthem at closedown, and ITV dropped the practice in the late 1980s, but it continued on BBC One until the final closedown on 8 November 1997 (thereafter BBC1 began to simulcast with BBC News after end of programmes). The tradition is carried on, however, by BBC Radio 4, which plays the anthem each night as a transition piece between the end of the Radio Four broadcasting and the move to BBC World Service. Radio 4 and Radio 2 also play the National Anthem at 0700 and 0800 on the actual and official birthdays of the Queen and the birthdays of senior members of the Royal Family.
The anthem usually prefaces The Queen's Christmas Message (although in 2007 it appeared at the end, taken from a recording of the 1957 television broadcast), and important royal announcements, such as of royal deaths, when it is played in a slower, sombre arrangement.
Other British anthems
Frequently, when an anthem is needed for one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom – at an international sporting event, for instance – an alternative song is used:
- England generally use "God Save the Queen", but "Jerusalem", "Rule, Britannia!" and "Land of Hope and Glory" have also been used.
- At international test cricket matches, England have, since 2004, used "Jerusalem" as the anthem.
- At international rugby league matches, England use "God Save the Queen" and also "Jerusalem".
- At international rugby union and football matches, England use "God Save the Queen".
- At the Commonwealth Games, Team England use "Jerusalem" as their victory anthem.
- Scotland use "Flower of Scotland" as their anthem for most sporting occasions.
- Wales use Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau ("Land of My Fathers") for governmental ceremonies and sporting occasions. At official occasions, especially those with royal connections, "God Save the Queen" is also played.
- Northern Ireland use "God Save the Queen" as its national anthem. Northern Ireland also use "Londonderry Air" as its victory anthem at the Commonwealth Games.
- The British and Irish Lions rugby union tour used the song "The Power of Four", but this anthem was especially designed for the 2005 tour and was used only then.
In April 2007 there was an Early Day Motion, number 1319, to the British Parliament to propose that there should be a separate England anthem: "That this House ... believes that all English sporting associations should adopt an appropriate song that English sportsmen and women, and the English public, would favour when competing as England". An amendment (EDM 1319A3) was proposed by Evan Harris that the song "should have a bit more oomph than God Save the Queen and should also not involve God."
Use in other Commonwealth countries
"God Save the King/Queen" was exported around the world via the expansion of the British Empire, serving as each country's national anthem. Throughout the Empire's evolution into the Commonwealth of Nations, the song declined in use in most states which became independent. In some countries it remains as one of the official national anthems, such as in New Zealand, or as an official royal anthem, as is the case in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and Tuvalu, to be played during formal ceremonies involving national royalty or vice-royalty.
In Australia, the song has standing through a Royal Proclamation issued by Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen on 19 April 1984. It declared "God Save the Queen" to be the Royal Anthem and that it is to be played when the Australian monarch or a member of the Royal Family is present, though not exclusively in such circumstances. The same proclamation made "Advance Australia Fair" the national anthem and the basis for the Vice-Regal Salute (the first four and last two bars of the anthem). From 1788 to 1974 "God Save the Queen" was the anthem of Australia.
In Canada, "God Save the Queen" is the Royal Anthem. It was adopted as such not by statute or proclamation (thus having "no legal status in Canada"), but through convention, and is sometimes played and/or sung together with the national anthem, "O Canada", at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.
"God Save the Queen" has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with "O Canada", one of the country's two de facto national anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used. By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, "God Save the Queen" was employed, while in Montreal it was "O Canada". Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country's national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that "God Save the Queen", whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain, should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and "O Canada" as the national anthem, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song; for "God Save the Queen", the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Elizabeth II. When the bill pronouncing "O Canada" as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee's earlier recommendations regarding "God Save the Queen" were not included.
The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces regulates that "God Save the Queen" be played as a salute to the monarch and other members of the Canadian Royal Family, though it may also be used as a hymn, or prayer. The words are not to be sung when the song is played as a military Royal Salute and is abbreviated to the first three lines while arms are being presented. Elizabeth II stipulated that the arrangement in G major by Lieutenant Colonel Basil H. Brown be used in Canada. The authorised version to be played by pipe bands is Mallorca.
Lyrics in Canada
The first verse of "God Save the Queen" has been translated into French, as shown below:
- Dieu protège la reine
- De sa main souveraine!
- Vive la reine!
- Long et victorieux,
- Qu'un règne glorieux
- Rende son peuple heureux.
- Vive la reine!
There is a special Canadian verse in English which was once commonly sung in addition to the two standing verses:
- Our lovèd Dominion bless
- With peace and happiness
- From shore to shore;
- And let our Empire be
- United, loyal, free,
- True to herself and Thee
- For evermore.
Modernly, however, on the rare occasion that two verses of the royal anthem are sung, it is almost invariably sung in Canada the same as it is sung in UK – with the third verse ("Thy choicest gifts in store", etc.) sung as a second verse.
"God Save the Queen" was the sole national anthem until 1977 when "God Defend New Zealand" was added as a second. "God Save the Queen" is now most often only played when the Sovereign, Governor-General or other member of the Royal Family is present, or on some occasions such as Anzac Day.
In New Zealand, the second more militaristic verse is sometimes replaced with Hickson's verse "Nor in this land alone..." (often sung as "Not in this land alone"), otherwise known as a "Commonwealth verse".
When Rhodesia issued its Unilateral Declaration of Independence from Britain on 11 November 1965, it did so while still maintaining loyalty to Queen Elizabeth II as the Rhodesian head of state, despite the non-recognition of the Rhodesian government by Britain and the United Nations; "God Save the Queen" therefore remained the Rhodesian national anthem. This was supposed to demonstrate the continued allegiance of the Rhodesian people to the monarch, but the retention in Rhodesia of a song so associated with Britain while the two countries were at loggerheads regarding its constitutional status caused Rhodesian state occasions to have "a faintly ironic tone", in the words of The Times. Nevertheless, "God Save the Queen" remained Rhodesia's national anthem until March 1970, when the country formally declared itself a republic. "Rise, O Voices of Rhodesia" was adopted in its stead in 1974 and remained in use until the country returned to British control in December 1979. Since the internationally-recognised independence of the Republic of Zimbabwe in April 1980, "God Save the Queen" has had no official status there.
"God Save the King" was the first song to be used as a national anthem, although the Netherlands' national anthem, Het Wilhelmus, is older, and the lyrics (though not the melody) of Japan's anthem, Kimigayo, are older still. Its success prompted a number of imitations, notably in France and, later, Germany. Both commissioned their own songs to help construct a concrete national identity. The first German national anthem used the melody of "God Save the King" with the words changed to Heil dir im Siegerkranz, and sung to the same tune as the UK version. The tune was either used or officially adopted as the national anthem for several other countries, including those of Russia (Molitva russkikh, until 1833) and Switzerland (Rufst Du, mein Vaterland or Ô monts indépendants, until 1961).
The melody is used in the patriotic hymn "My Country, 'Tis of Thee", the lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831. The song is often quoted – alongside "Hail, Columbia" – as a de facto national anthem for the United States, before the de jure adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the 1930s.
It was the Swedish royal anthem between 1805 and 1880, titled Bevare Gud vår kung.
The tune—that was in use for the Swiss National Anthem Rufst du, mein Vaterland until 1961—is still used as the national anthem of Liechtenstein, Oben am jungen Rhein. The same tune was therefore played twice before the Euro 96 qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Liechtenstein; likewise when England played Liechtenstein in a Euro 2004 qualifier. (When England play Northern Ireland, the tune is only played once.)
The melody of "God Save the King" has been, and continues to be, used as a hymn tune by Christian churches in various countries. The United Methodists of the southern United States, Mexico, and Latin America, among other denominations (usually Protestant), play the same melody as a hymn. The Christian hymn "Glory to God on High" is frequently sung to the same tune, as well as an alternative tune that fits both lyrics. Note also that in the Protestant Church of Korea, it is sung as a choral hymn under the name of "Since I Have My Retreat".
The tune is also used for the anthem of the "Royal Canadian Kilted Yaksmen" in The Ren & Stimpy Show.
In the 19th century, Iceland's de facto national anthem was Íslands minni ("To Iceland", better known as Eldgamla Ísafold), a poem by Bjarni Thorarensen set to the melody of "God save the King". This lasted until the current national anthem was adopted, first by popular consent and later by law. The tune remains a popular one in Iceland and many different texts—serious, satirical and comical—have been set to it.
About 140 composers, including Beethoven, Haydn, Clementi, J.C.Bach, Liszt, Brahms, Carl Maria von Weber, Niccolò Paganini, Johann Strauss I, and Edward Elgar have used the tune in their compositions.
Ludwig van Beethoven composed a set of seven piano variations in the key of C major to the theme of "God Save the King", catalogued as WoO.78 (1802–1803). Moreover, he also quotes it in his "battle symphony" Wellington's Victory.
Muzio Clementi used the theme to "God Save the King" in his Symphony No. 3 in G major, often called the "Great National Symphony", catalogued as WoO. 34. Clementi paid a high tribute to his adopted homeland (the United Kingdom) where he grew up and stayed most of his lifetime. He based the Symphony (about 1816–1824) on "God Save the King", which is hinted at earlier in the work, not least in the second movement, and announced by the trombones in the finale. • Symphony No. 3 " Great National Symphony " in en sol majeur/G-dur/G major/sol maggiore 1. Andante sostenuto – Allegro con brio 2. Andante un poco mosso 3. Minuetto. Allegretto 4. Finale. Vivace
Johann Christian Bach composed a set of variations on "God Save the King" for the finale to his sixth keyboard concerto (Op. 1) written c. 1763.
Joseph Haydn was impressed by the use of "God Save the King" as a national anthem during his visit to London in 1794, and on his return to Austria wrote a tune to the national anthem, the Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser ("God Save Emperor Franz"), for the birthday of the Emperor Franz of Austria. The tune of "God Save the King" was later adopted for the Prussian national anthem Heil Dir im Siegerkranz.
Franz Liszt wrote a piano paraphrase on the anthem (S.259 in the official catalogue, c. 1841).
Johann Strauss I quoted God Save the Queen in full at the end of his waltz Huldigung der Königin Victoria von Grossbritannien (Homage to Queen Victoria of Great Britain) Op. 103, where he also quoted Rule, Britannia! in full at the beginning of the piece.
Heinrich Marschner used the anthem in his "Grande Ouverture solenne", op.78 (1842).
Joachim Raff used this anthem in his Jubelouverture, Opus 103 (1864) dedicated to Adolf, Herzogs von Nassau on the 25th anniversary of his reign.
Gioachino Rossini used this anthem in the last scene of his "Il viaggio a Reims", when all the characters, coming from many different European countries, sing a song which recalls their own homeland. Lord Sidney, bass, sings "Della real pianta" on the notes of "God save the King". Samuel Ramey used to interpolate a spectacular virtuoso cadenza at the end of the song.
Fernando Sor used the anthem in his 12 Studies, Op. 6: No. 10 in C Major in the section marked 'Maestoso.'
Claude Debussy opens with a brief introduction of God Save the King in one of his Preludes, Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C. The piece draws its inspiration from the main character of the Charles Dickens novel The Pickwick Papers.
Niccolò Paganini wrote a set of highly virtuosic variations on "God Save the King" as his Opus 9.
A week before the Coronation Ode was due to be premiered at the June 1902 "Coronation Gala Concert" at Covent Garden (it was cancelled, owing to the King's illness), Sir Edward Elgar introduced an arrangement of Land of Hope and Glory as a solo song performed by Clara Butt at a "Coronation Concert" at the Albert Hall. Novello seized upon the prevailing patriotism and requested that Elgar arrange the National Anthem as an appropriate opening for a concert performed in front of the Court and numerous British and foreign dignitaries. This version for orchestra and chorus, which is enlivened by use of a cappella and marcato effects, was also performed at the opening of the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley on St. George’s Day, 1924, and recorded under the composer's Baton in 1928, with the LSO and the Philharmonic Choir. Elgar also used the first verse of the Anthem as the climax of a short "Civic Procession and Anthem", written to accompany the mayoral procession at the opening of the Hereford Music Festival on 4 September 1927. This premiere performance was recorded, and is today available on CD; the score was lost following the festival, and Elgar resorted to reconstructing it by ear from the recording.
Carl Maria von Weber uses the "God Save the King" theme at the end of his "Jubel Overture"
Charles Ives wrote Variations on "America" for organ in 1891 at age seventeen. It included a polytonal section in three simultaneous keys, though this was omitted from performances at his father's request, because "it made the boys laugh out loud". Ives was fond of the rapid pedal line in the final variation, which he said was "almost as much fun as playing baseball". The piece was not published until 1949; the final version includes an introduction, seven variations and a polytonal interlude. The piece was adapted for orchestra in 1963 by William Schuman. This version became popular during the bicentennial celebrations, and is often heard at pops concerts.
Muthuswami Dikshitar (1776–1835), one of the musical trinity in South Indian classical (Carnatic) music composed some Sanskrit pieces set to Western tunes. These are in the raga Sankarabharanam and are referred to as "nottu swaras". Among these, the composition "Santatam Pahimam Sangita Shyamale" is set to the tune of "God save the Queen"
The Beatles performed an impromptu version of "God Save the Queen" during their 30 January 1969 rooftop concert, atop the Apple building. They had also whistled the melody of the song on their first fan club Christmas record in 1963.
Jimi Hendrix of The Jimi Hendrix Experience played an impromptu version of "God Save the Queen" to open his set at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Just before walking onto the stage, he can be seen (on the DVD) and heard to ask "How does it go again?" in reference to the said UK national anthem. He was able just to hear it mimicked by voice and then perform it. Hendrix gave the same sort of distortion and improvisation of "God Save the Queen", as he had done with the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Woodstock Festival, 1969.
In 1977, the Sex Pistols recorded a song titled "God Save the Queen" in open reference to the National Anthem and the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations that year, with the song intending to stand for sympathy for the working class and resentment of the monarchy. They were banned from many venues, censored by mainstream media, and reached number 2 on the official U.K. singles charts and number 1 on the NME chart.
|Queen – A Night at the Opera|
|"God Save the Queen"
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The rock band Queen recorded an instrumental version of "God Save the Queen" on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera. It was arranged by guitarist Brian May and features his distinctive layers of overdubbed electric guitars. A tape of this version would be played at the end of almost every concert, with Freddie Mercury walking around the stage wearing a crown and a cloak on their Magic Tour in 1986. While the song was played, the Queen members would take their bows. On 3 June 2002, during the Queen's Golden Jubilee, Brian May performed the anthem on his Red Special electric guitar for Party at the Palace, performing from the roof of Buckingham Palace, and features on the 30th Anniversary DVD edition of A Night at the Opera.
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|Wikimedia Commons has media related to God Save the Queen.|
- Official Royal webpage on the anthem
- Streaming audio, lyrics and information about God Save the Queen
- Department of Canadian Heritage – Royal anthem page
- God Save Great George our King: – article discussing different versions of the lyrics
- Free sheet music of God Save the Queen from Cantorion.org