Brabançonne

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Brabançonne
Partition9.jpg
Cover of a score of the Brabançonne, dated around 1910

National anthem of  Belgium
Lyrics Alexandre Dechet, 1830
Music François Van Campenhout, 1830
Adopted 1860, current text in 1921
Music sample

The Brabançonne is the national anthem of Belgium. In the originally French language, the term normally refers to Brabant, literally Brabantian in English. The untranslated initial name is maintained for the French, Dutch and the German lyrics, that at a later stage ensured reflecting all three official languages of the country.[1]

History[edit]

According to legend, the Belgian national anthem was written in September 1830, during the Belgian Revolution, by a young revolutionary called "Jenneval", who read the lyrics during a meeting at the Aigle d'Or café.

Jenneval, a Frenchman whose real name was Alexandre Dechet (sometimes known as Louis-Alexandre Dechet), did in fact write the Brabançonne. At the time, he was an actor at the theatre where, in August 1830, the revolution started which led to independence from the Netherlands. Jenneval died in the war of independence. François Van Campenhout composed the accompanying score, based on the tune of a French song called "L'Air des lanciers polonais" ("the tune of the Polish Lancers"), written by the French poet Eugène de Pradel, whose tune was itself an adaptation of the tune of a song, "L'Air du magistrat irréprochable", found in a popular collection of drinking songs called "La Clé du caveau" ("The Key to the cellar")[2][3] and it was first performed in September 1830.

In 1860, Belgium formally adopted the song and music as its national anthem, although the then prime minister, Charles Rogier edited out lyrics attacking the Dutch Prince of Orange.

The ending, pledging loyalty to "Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté!" ("The King, and Law, and Liberty!") is an obvious parallel to the French "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" - with the republican sentiment of the original replaced in the Belgian version by the promotion of constitutional monarchy (the combination of "The King" and "(the) Law" is what produces "Liberty"). Actually, a slogan similar to the Belgian one - "la Nation, la Loi, le Roi" ("The Nation, The Law, The King") - had been used in the early days of the French Revolution, when that revolution was still considered to be aimed toward constitutional monarchy rather than a republic.

The Brabançonne is also a monument (1930) by the sculptor Charles Samuel on the Surlet de Chokier square in Brussels. The monument contains partial lyrics of both the French and Dutch versions of the anthem. Like many elements in Belgian folklore, this is mainly based on the French "La Marseillaise" which is also both an anthem and the name of a monument - the sculptural group Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, commonly called "La Marseillaise", at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Lyrics[edit]

Score of the Brabançonne
Lithograph of Jenneval
Lithograph of Campenhout singing the Brabançonne
The Brabançonne monument in Brussels

1830 Original Lyrics[edit]

First version (August 1830)[edit]

First version (end of August 1830)
Lyrics Translation (English)[4]
Verse 1

Dignes enfants de la Belgique
Qu’un beau délire a soulevé,
À votre élan patriotique
De grand succès sont réservés.
Restons armés que rien ne change !
Gardons la même volonté,
Et nous verrons refleurir l’Orange
Sur l’arbre de la Liberté.

Worthy children of Belgium
Whom a fine passion has aroused,
To your patriotic fervour
Great successes lie in store.
Remain under arms, so that naught shall change!
Let us keep to the same will,
And we shall see Orange bloom anew
Upon the tree of Liberty.

Verse 2

Aux cris de meurtre et de pillage,
Des méchants s’étaient rassemblés,
Mais votre énergique courage
Loin de vous les a refoulés.
Maintenant, purs de cette fange
Qui flétrissait votre cité,
Amis, il faut greffer l’Orange
Sur l’arbre de la Liberté.

To cries of murder and pillage,
The wicked had rallied around,
But your forceful courage
Has pushed them far away.
Now, pure of this filth
That was soiling your city,
Friends, we must graft Orange
Onto the tree of Liberty.

Verse 3

Et toi, dans qui ton peuple espère,
Nassau, consacre enfin nos droits ;
Des Belges en restant le père
Tu seras l’exemple des rois.
Abjure un ministre étrange,
Rejette un nom trop détesté,
Et tu verras mûrir l’Orange
Sur l’arbre de la Liberté.

And you, in whom your people place their hopes,
Nassau, set firm our rights at last;
Remaining the father of the Belgians,
You'll be the example of kings.
Forswear a foreign minister,
Reject a too hated name,
And you will see Orange ripen
Upon the tree of Liberty.

Verse 4

Mais malheur, si, de l’arbitraire
Protégeant les affreux projets,
Sur nous du canon sanguinaire,
Tu venais lancer les boulets !
Alors tout est fini, tout change,
Plus de pacte, plus de traité,
Et tu verras tomber l’Orange
De l’arbre de la Liberté.

But woe to you if, wilfully,
Pursuing dreadful plans,
You turn on us
The bloody cannon's fire!
Then all is over, all is changing;
No more pact, no more treaty,
And you shall see Orange fall
From the tree of Liberty.

Second version (September 1830)[edit]

Second version (end of September 1830)
Lyrics Translation (English)[4]
Verse 1

Qui l’aurait cru ? …de l’arbitraire
Consacrant les affreux projets,
Sur nous de l’airain militaire
Un prince a lancé les boulets.
C’en est fait ! Oui, Belges, tout change,
Avec Nassau plus d’indigne traité !
La mitraille a brisé l’Orange
Sur l’arbre de la Liberté.

Who'd have believed it? ... wilfully
Pursuing dreadful plans,
On us, with cannon's brass,
A prince has opened fire.
It has been done! Yes, Belgians, all is changing;
No more unworthy treaty with Nassau!
Grapeshot has shattered Orange
Upon the tree of Liberty.

Verse 2

Trop généreuse en sa colère,
La Belgique, vengeant ses droits,
D’un roi, qu’elle appelait son père,
N’implorait que de justes lois.
Mais lui dans sa fureur étrange,
Par le canon que son fils a pointé,
Au sang belge a noyé l’Orange
Sous l’arbre de la Liberté.

Too generous in her anger,
Belgium, avenging her rights,
From a king, whom she called her father,
Sought no more than just laws.
But he, in his unexpected fury,
By the cannon aimed by his son
Has drowned Orange in Belgian blood
Beneath the tree of Liberty.

Verse 3

Fiers brabançons, peuples de braves,
Qu’on voit combattre sans fléchir,
Du sceptre honteux des Bataves,
Tes balles sauront t’affranchir.
Sur Bruxelles, au pied de l’archange,
Ton saint drapeau pour jamais est planté,
Et, fier de verdir sans l’Orange,
Croît l’arbre de la Liberté.

O proud, brave people of Brabant,
Seen not to flinch amid the fight,
From the Batavians' shameful sceptre
Your bullets will set you free.
On Brussels, together with the archangel[5]
Your holy flag is planted for ever;
And, proud to grow green without Orange,
Grows higher the tree of Liberty.

Verse 4

Et vous, objets de nobles larmes,
Braves, morts au feu des cannons,
Avant que la patrie en armes
Ait pu connaître au moins vos noms,
Sous l’humble terre où l’on vous range,
Dormez, martyrs, bataillon indompté !
Dormez en paix, loin de l’Orange,
Sous l’arbre de la Liberté.

And you, objects of noble tears,
The brave, who died under cannon fire,
Before the Fatherland, under arms,
Could know at least your names,
Beneath the humble earth where you are laid,
Sleep, martyrs, unbroken battalion!
Sleep in peace, far from Orange,
Beneath the tree of Liberty.

Third version (1860)[edit]

Third version (1860)
Lyrics Translation (English)[4]
Verse 1

Après des siècles et des siècles d'esclavage,
Le Belge sortant du tombeau
A reconquis par sa force et son courage
Son nom, ses droits et son drapeau.
Et ta main souveraine et fière,
Désormais, peuple indompté,
Grava sur ta vieille bannière :
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Grava sur ta vieille bannière :
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !

After century on century in slavery,
The Belgian, arising from the tomb,
Has reconquered through his strength and courage
His name, his rights and his flag.
And now, undaunted people,
Your hand, sovereign and proud,
Has inscribed on your ancient banner:
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
Inscribed on your ancient banner:
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
The King, and Law, and Liberty!

Current version[edit]

Various committees were charged with reviewing the text and tune of the Brabançonne and establishing an official version. A ministerial circular of the Ministry of the Interior on August 8, 1921, decreed that only the fourth verse of the text by Charles Rogier should be considered official, both in French, German and in Dutch. Here below:

Brabançonne (Current version)
Lyrics Translation (English)[4]
French language (La Brabançonne)

Ô Belgique, ô mère chérie,
À toi nos cœurs, à toi nos bras,
À toi notre sang, ô Patrie !
Nous le jurons tous, tu vivras !
Tu vivras toujours grande et belle
Et ton invincible unité
Aura pour devise immortelle :
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Aura pour devise immortelle :
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté !

O Belgium - O mother dear -
To you we stretch our hearts and arms,
With blood to spill for you, O fatherland!
We swear with one cry - You shall live!
You shall live, so great and beautiful,
And your invincible unity
Shall have for device immortal -
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
Shall have for device immortal -
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
The King, and Law, and Liberty!

Dutch language (De Brabançonne)

O dierbaar België, O heilig land der Vaad'ren,
Onze ziel en ons hart zijn u gewijd.
Aanvaard ons kracht en bloed van ons ad'ren,
Wees ons doel in arbeid en in strijd.
Bloei, o land, in eendracht niet te breken;
Wees immer uzelf en ongeknecht,
Het woord getrouw, dat g' onbevreesd moogt spreken,
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!
Het woord getrouw, dat g' onbevreesd moogt spreken,
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!

O dear Belgium, O holy land of our fathers -
Our soul and our hearts are devoted to you!
Accept our strength and the blood in our veins,
Be our goal, in work and struggle.
Prosper, O land, in unbreakable unity;
Always be yourself and serve no other,
Faithful to the word that you may speak boldly,
For King, for Freedom and for Law!
Faithful to the word that you may speak boldly,
For King, for Freedom and for Law!
For King, for Freedom and for Law!
For King, for Freedom and for Law!

German language (Die Brabançonne)

O liebes Land, o Belgiens Erde,
Dir unser Herz, Dir unsere Hand,
Dir unser Blut, o Heimaterde,
wir schwören's Dir, o Vaterland!
So blühe froh in voller Schöne,
zu der die Freiheit Dich erzog,
und fortan singen Deine Söhne:
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch!
und fortan singen Deine Söhne:
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch!
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch!
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch!

O dear country, O Belgium's soil,
To you our hearts, our hands to you,
To you our blood, O native land,
We swear to you, O fatherland!
So gladly bloom in beauty full,
Into what freedom has taught you to be,
And evermore shall sing your sons:
To Law and King and Freedom, hail!
And evermore shall sing your sons:
To Law and King and Freedom, hail!
To Law and King and Freedom, hail!
To Law and King and Freedom, hail!

trilingual version

O dierbaar België, O heilig land der Vad'ren,
Onze ziel en ons hart zijn u gewijd.
À toi notre sang, ô Patrie!
Nous le jurons tous, tu vivras!
So blühe froh in voller Schöne,
zu der die Freiheit Dich erzog,
und fortan singen Deine Söhne:
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté!
Het woord getrouw, dat g' onbevreesd moogt spreken,
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht!
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch!
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté!

O dear Belgium, O holy land of our fathers -
Our soul and our hearts are devoted to you!
With blood to spill for you, O fatherland!
We swear with one cry - You shall live!
So gladly bloom in beauty full,
Into what freedom has taught you to be,
And evermore shall sing your sons:
The King, and Law, and Liberty!
Faithful to the word that you may speak boldly,
For King, for Freedom and for Law!
To Law and King and Freedom, hail!
The King, and Law, and Liberty!

Walloon version (Li Braibançone)[edit]

Walloon version (Li Braibançone)
Lyrics Translation (English)[4]
Verse 1

Po nosse Beldjike, nosse firté, nosse bele Patreye,
S' il est reki, ci djoû la, nos mourrans !
Li Liberté våt k' on sacrifeye si veye,
Po-z è leyî profiter nos efants !
Dins nozôtes, k' est vaici, i gn a pont d’ låtches,
So nos tertos, nosse payis pout conter !
Flaminds, Walons, tchantans, tchaeke e s’ lingaedje :
Li Rwè, li Lwè et l’ Liberté !

Verse 2

S' i sorvénreut, come mwints côps e noste istwere,
K' on mwais vijhén nos vôreut ocuper,
Maké po d’ bon, l' fayé recourrè sins glwere
Et pus djamåy, i n' oizrè nous ataker !
On Bedje n' est nén fwait po esse on sclåve,
I gn a måy yeu nolu a nos dompter.
Flaminds, Walons, les Bedjes sont les pus bråves,
Cezår li djheut et nos plans co tchanter :
Li Rwè, li Lwè et l’ Liberté !

Modern short trilingual version[edit]

In recent years, an unofficial short version of the anthem is sung during Belgian National Day on July 21 yearly, combining the words of the anthem in all three of Belgium's official languages, similar to the bilingual version of O Canada.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ In English, one may refer to Brabant by the adjectives Brabantine or Brabantian, but only the latter term is (nearly) as general as French "Brabançon", which can also be a substantive for e.g. the dialect, a man, or a horse or its breed from Brabant. In French, "Brabançonne" is the feminine gender of adjective "Brabançon" and matches the preceding definite article "la", thus might fit an implied e.g. "chanson", ('song') (cf. the official name of the French hymn: "la Marseillaise", "(song) having to do with the city of Marseille"). But neither the female definite article in German "die Brabançonne" nor the male "den Brabançonne" in Brabantian aka Brabantine dialects of Dutch can fit 'song', which is "Lied" in German and "lied" in Dutch, both of neutre genus. In today's standard Dutch, "de Brabançonne" does not betray whether the gender is male or female, but can not be used for a neutre substantive either, and referring to "de Brabançonne" by "hij" confirms the male interpretation of Dutch dialects. For the anthem name in English, as in Dutch, German, and of course French, Brabançonne can be considered a proper noun.
  2. ^ "Courrier des Pays-Bas: La Brabançonne.". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Francis Martens, La Belgique en chantant, pp.19-40, in Antoine Pickels and Jacques Sojcher (eds.), Belgique: toujours grande et belle, issues 1-2, Éditions Complexe, Brussels, 1998
  4. ^ a b c d e For Wikipedia.
  5. ^ St. Michael the Archangel, a patron saint of Brussels. The image seems to be of the Belgian flag flying from the towers of St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

External links[edit]