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Anthems and Other Patriotic Songs

Music is always a key element when describing the identity of a country. Rule Britannia immediately brings to mind Great Britain and America the Beautiful brings citizens of the United States patriotic feelings. In Canada, we have three official anthems and many other truly "Canadian" songs.


O Canada! - The National Anthem of Canada

Calixa Lavallée, a pianist and composer, was asked in early 1880 to write music for a national song to be performed at the French-Canadian National Festival. After the music was written, the festival president Ernest Gagnon asked Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier to write appropriate words for this new composition. It is also a fact that Gagnon suggested the first line to Routhier "O Canada, terre des nos aieux". Even before its first public performance, the Quebec press proclaimed: "at last we have a truly French-Canadian National Song".

Although originally intended for French-Canadians, it became popular all over the country and accepted as a national song. Following the first English performance in Toronto in 1901 there have been several English texts, the most widely used being the version by Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir written in 1908. The French lyrics remain unaltered from Sir Routhier's version. In almost all instances, just the first verse is sung. Even though this song was written in 1880, it was not until July 1, 1980 that Parliament proclaimed this tune as Canada's official national anthem.

On February 7, 2018, the lyrics were changed to be gender neutral, replacing "in all thy sons command" with "in all of us command".

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada!
Where pines and maples grow,
Great prairies spread
And lordly rivers flow,
How dear to us thy broad domain,
From East to Western Sea,
Thou land of hope, for all who toil!
Thou True North strong and free!
God keep our land
Glorious and free!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!

O Canada!
Beneath thy shining skies
May stalwart sons
And gentle maidens rise,
To keep thee steadfast through the years
From East to Western Sea,
Our own beloved native land!
Our True North strong and free!
God keep our land,
Glorious and free!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!

Ruler Supreme, who hearest humble prayer,
Hold our Dominion in Thy loving care.
Help us to find, O God, in Thee
A lasting, rich reward,
As waiting for the Better Day
We ever stand on guard.
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!
O Canada! We stand on guard for thee!

Ô Canada!
Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!
Car ton bras sait porter l'épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Sous l'oeil de Dieu, près du fleuve géant,
Le Canadien grandit en espérant.
Il est né d'une race fièrce,
Beni fut son berceau.
Le ciel a marqué sa carrière
Dans ce monde nouveau.
Toujours guidé par sa lumière,
Il gardera l'honneur de son drappeau,
Il gardera l'honneur de son drapeau.

De son patron, précurseur du vrai Dieu,
Il porte au front l'auréole de feu.
Ennemi de la tyrannie
Main plein de loyauté,
Il veut garder dans l'harmonie
Sa fière liberté;
Et par l'effort de son genie,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité.

Amour sacré du trône et de l'autel,
Remplis nos coeurs de ton souffle immortel!
Parmi les races étrangères,
Notre guide est la loi:
Sachons être un peuple de frères,
Sous le joug de la foi.
Et répétons, comme nos pères,
La cri vainqueur: "Pour le Christ et le roi,"
La cri vainqueur: "Pour le Christ et le roi,"

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God Save the Queen - The Royal Anthem of Canada

The words and music to this anthem have been attributed to a Dr. Henry Carey in 1740. This fact is heavily disputed. However, its first famous performance was on September 28, 1745 at Drury Lane Theatre in London when the Young Pretender to the British Throne, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, had just defeated the army of King George II at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh. In a fit of patriotic fervour after news of Prestonpans had reached London, the leader of the band at the Drury Lane Theatre, arranged God Save The King for performance after a play. It was a tremendous success and was repeated nightly thereafter. This practice soon spread to other theatres, and the custom of greeting the Monarch with the song as he or she entered a place of public entertainment was thus established.

As the Royal Anthem of Canada, it is performed officially in Canada in the presence of members of the Royal Family but is not sung when played as a salute, only when used as the national anthem of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, or as a hymn or prayer. The Salute accorded to the Governor General and Lieutenant Governors is a combination of O Canada! and God Save the Queen (see Vice-Regal Anthem below). As with O Canada!, in almost all instances - even in the United Kingdom, just the first verse is sung.

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!

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The Vice-Regal Salute

The Vice-Regal Salute is a musical arrangement of the first six bars of the royal anthem, God Save The Queen, and a short version (the first four bars and the last four bars) of the national anthem, O Canada! It is played as the musical salute to the Governor General of Canada and the Lieutenant-Governors of Canadian provinces. However, when the Governor General makes an official visit abroad, O Canada! is played as the musical salute. The Vice-Regal Salute was approved by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in 1968. There are no words to this anthem.

Before the entry of the Vice-Regal party, the guests should be asked to stand when the party enters and to remain standing until the Vice-Regal Salute is concluded. They should be advised NOT to sing during the playing of the Salute. The Vice-Regal Salute should not be played until all members of the party have reached their places on the stage or at the table and are standing at their chairs.

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Maple Leaf Forever

Alexander Muir's 1867 up-the-Empire standard, which was Canada's unofficial national anthem until the arrival of O Canada, has new lyrics. The updated, politically sensitive Maple Leaf Forever, with lyrics by Romanian émigré Vladimir Radian, received its first full orchestral treatment on June 27, 1997 at a free concert by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra.

Radian, a mathematician turned songwriter/actor/poet, came to Canada a decade ago, completely unaware of Maple Leaf Forever and its crowing lyrics. He discovered the song while listening to CBC Radio's Metro Morning show in Toronto when it ran a contest to replace the old lyrics, which were distasteful to some ears and merely comical to others.

Original Lyrics

In Days of yore, from Britain's shore,
Wolfe the dauntless hero came,
And planted firm Britannia's flag,
On Canada's fair domain.
Here may it wave, our boast, our pride,
And joined in love together,
The thistle, shamrock, rose entwine,
The Maple Leaf forever.

Chorus: The Maple Leaf, our emblem dear,
The Maple Leaf forever!
God save our Queen, and Heaven bless,
The Maple Leaf forever!

At Queenston Heights and Lundy's Lane,
Our brave fathers, side by side,
For freedom, homes, and loved ones dear,
Firmly stood and nobly died;
And those dear rights which they maintained,
We swear to yield them never!
Our watchword evermore shall be,
The Maple Leaf forever!


Our fair Dominion now extends
From Cape Race to Nootka Sound;
May peace forever be our lot,
And plenteous store abound:
And may those ties of love be ours
Which discord cannot sever,
And flourish green o'er Freedom's home
The Maple Leaf forever!


On merry England's far-famed land
May kind Heaven sweetly smile;
God bless Old Scotland evermore,
And Ireland's Emerald Isle!
Then swell the song, both loud and long,
Till rocks and forest quiver,
God save our Queen, and Heaven bless
The Maple Leaf forever!


New Lyrics

O, land of blue unending skies,
Mountains strong and sparkling snow,
A scent of freedom in the wind,
O'er the emerald fields below.

To thee we brought our hopes, our dreams,
For thee we stand together,
Our land of peace, where proudly flies,
The Maple Leaf forever.

Long may it wave, and grace our own,
Blue skies and stormy weather,
Within my heart, above my home,
The Maple Leaf forever!

From East and West, our heroes came,
Throught icy fields and frozen bays,
Who conquered fear, and cold, and hate,
And their ancient wisdom says:

Protect the weak, defend your rights,
And build this land together,
Above which shine the Northern Lights,
And the Maple Leaf forever!


Sur mers sauvages ou glaciers durs,
Tant d'heros se sont suivis,
En conquerant la peur, le froid,
Et les tempetes de leurs vies.

Et tant de braves, rouges ou blancs,
Reposent ici ensemble,
De noble sang, de tant de neige,
Est nee la feuille d'erable.

De leurs exploits, de leurs travaux,
Et leur courage sublime,
Dans leurs vieux reves reunis,
Puisons nouvelles racines.

Refrain Reprise
Sur nos montagnes, dans nos prairies,
A travers temps et sable,
Aimons toujours la fleur de lys,
Toujours, la feuille d'erable.

Oh, Maple Leaf, around the world,
You speak as you rise high above,
Of courage, peace and quiet strength,
Of the Canada I love.

Remind us all our union bound,
By ties we cannot sever,
Bright flag revered on every ground,
The Maple Leaf forever!


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Something to Sing About

This rousing song about Canada's natural beauty was written in 1963 for a television special by Oscar Brand, a Canadian-born folksinger and songwriter. It later became the theme song for the Canadian pavilion at Expo '67. As more than one fan of the song has pointed out, walking "on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland" is actually impossible, since this area is underwater!

I have walked 'cross the sand on the Grand Banks of Newfoundland,
Lazed on the ridge of the Miramichi.
Seen the waves tear and roar at the stone coast of Labrador,
Watched them roll back to the great northern sea.

Chorus: From the Vancouver Island to the Alberta Highland,
'Cross the prairie, the Lakes to Ontario's towers.
From the sound of Mount Royal's chimes out to the Maritimes,
Something to sing about, this land of ours.

I have welcomed the dawn from the fields of Saskatchewan,
Followed the sun to the Vancouver shore.
Watched it climb shiny new up the snow peaks of Cariboo,
Up to the clouds where the wild Rockies soar.


I have heard the wild wind sing the places that I have been,
Bay Bulls and Red Deer and Strait of Belle Isle.
Names like Grand'Mere and Silverthrone, Moose Jaw and Marrowbone,
Trails of the pioneer, named with a smile.


I have wandered my way to the wild wood of Hudson Bay,
Treated my toes to Quebec's morning dew.
Where the sweet summer breeze kissed the leaves of the maple trees,
Sharing this song that I'm singing to you.


Yes, there's something to sing about, tune up a string about,
Call out in chorus or quietly hum
Of a land that's still young with a ballad that's still unsung
Telling the promise of great things to come.


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Ode to Newfoundland

The words of "The Ode to Newfoundland" were written by His Excellency Sir Cavendish Boyle, K.C.M.G., who was Governor of Newfoundland from 1901 to 1904. On November 8, 1902, the Ode was set to music composed by Professor E.R. Krippner and was officially adopted as the Newfoundland anthem. On May 20, 1904, the present musical setting, which was composed by Sir Hubert Parry, Bart, was officially substituted for the Krippner setting. On August 17, 1979, Royal Assent was given to legislation adopting the Ode to Newfoundland as the official provincial anthem of the province of Newfoundland.

When sun rays crown thy pine clad hills,
And summer spreads her hand,
When silvern voices tune thy rills,
We love thee, smiling land.

We love thee, we love thee,
We love thee, smiling land.

As loved our fathers, so we love,
Where once they stood, we stand;
Their prayer we raise to Heaven above,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

God guard thee, God guard thee,
God guard thee, Newfoundland

Click here to listen to a portion of 'Ode to Newfoundland'Listen to a portion of "Ode to Newfoundland" [.wav]

Manitoba Anthem

There are only trace references to a Manitoba Anthem out there... if you have more words and/or a tune that this goes with, we would love to include it here!

Manitoba, here we rise to greet thee
Manitoba, our home!
You're the bond that binds our great Dominion
From to sea to sea, from foam to foam

A Place to Stand, A Place to Grow (Ontari-ari-ari-o)

A Place to Stand, a Place to Grow was commissioned by the Government of Ontario for use at the Ontario Pavillion at Expo '67, the World's Fair held in Montreal, Quebec in Canada's Centennial year of 1967. The film of the same name (which included the song) won the 1967 Academy Award for Live Action Short Film. The song's use continued for the next several decades promoting Ontario tourism and pride as an unofficial provincial anthem.

Give us a place to stand
And a place to grow
And call this land Ontario.
A place to live
For you and me
With hopes as high
As the tallest tree.

Give us a land of lakes
and a land of snow
And we will build Ontario
A place to stand, a place to grow

From western hills,
To northern shores.
To Niagara Falls,
Where the waters roar.

Give us a land of peace,
Where the free winds blow.
And we will build Ontario
A place to stand, a place to grow

Click here to listen to 'A Place to Stand, A Place to Grow'Listen to A Place to Stand, A Place to Grow

Copyright Craig I.W. Marlatt