Thursday, September 23, 2010

Song of the Week: "God Save the Queen"

The Royal Collection, 2006
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!

No, it’s not necessarily, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee” though that’s what comes to mind when most of us in the U.S. hear the melody of “God Save the Queen.” England doesn’t have a national anthem, per se. “God Save the Queen” rather fits the part and is used as the song which represents England and The United Kingdom internationally.

Much historical debate surrounds the true origins of the tune that we know today as “God Save the Queen” (or alternately “God Save the King” depending on the monarch), however, the first written record of the present version of the song occurs in 1744 and was being sung in theaters and music halls by 1745. Some scholars believe that the Biblical phrase, “God Save the King” was used by the Royal Navy as early as the 1500’s and served as a watchword. The response was meant to be “Long to reign over us.”

Curiously, the song has no official version and is not controlled by the monarchy or by parliament. One set of three verses is the most commonly used, though only the first two verses are usually sung. Over the centuries, many have tried to “improve” the song by changing the lyrics or adding additional ones, however, the one version continues to be prevalent. Every so often, efforts are made to introduce an official national anthem to England. Two suggestions are frequently, “Jerusalem,” and “Rule Britannia,” however, there’s something so innately British about “God Save the Queen,” that it’s doubtful it will change anytime soon.

I found this video on YouTube and found it enormously charming. The only thing that could have made it better would be if Her Majesty was wearing the pelican pendant pictured below.

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