Tuesday, 14 July 2015

Bastille Day: Vive la France (and a bit about "God Save the Queen").

Every year on Bastille Day I play the Hector Berlioz version of La Marseillaise, as recorded by the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, with soloists Sylvia McNair and Richard Leech, and with the boys from the choirs at St. Michael and All Angels Church,  and St. David's Episcopal Church.


On the same day my friends Jean-Pail and Lizzie Chausatt always listen to the same recording at their home in Bordeaux, France.

They and I are tickled pink that they had never heard the Berlioz arrangement, until I gave them the C.D.

It's a fond toast across the ocean.

Earlier today my American friend, the Revd. Mary Luti reminded her Facebook friends that the words of the French National Anthem are filled with blood and gore. 

Not to worry, 'tis a good tune and our heads don't need to be bothered with a troublesome text since it is sung in French.

'Tis a good tune:  good for the French I suppose.

 But I was raised in England  and was led to believe that the tune for our U.K. National Anthem is rather un-exceptional, or bland.

Ludwig Van Beethoven thought contrary-wise. He liked the tune so well that he wrote a set of seven variations on the melody, arranged for the piano.


Believe it or not, the same tune is used for the National Anthem of Liechtenstein  see 


Few know the entire text  (see below).

It first surfaced in 1745, the year of a Jacobite rising in Scotland.

See this for a brief account of the various Jacobite risings, scroll down for details of 1745, Bonnie Prince Charles and all that good stuff


Thus, the genesis of "God save the Queen/King" is in an uprising which, had it succeeded, would have destroyed the Union of the Scottish and English Royal Houses.

Few know that it too has some bloody lines.

God Save The Queen Lyrics

God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen

O Lord our God arise
Scatter her 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 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

Not in this land alone
But be God's mercies known
From shore to shore
Lord make the nations see
That men should brothers be
And form one family
The wide world over

From every latent foe
From the assassins blow
God save the Queen
O'er her thine arm extend
For Britain's sake defend
Our mother, prince, and friend
God save the Queen

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

(See this re Marshall Wade  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Wade )

P.S.    'God Save the Queen' has never been officially adopted as the UK national anthem (the nearest it has come has been a 1934 Army order, laying down rules on interpretation and tempo).

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