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We Stand on Guard for Thee

March 4th, 2010

Some days you just feel old. My daughter is upset that they are going to change the anthem. I’m explaining, in my best “When I was a boy,” voice, nothing new.

11287423As a lad I learnt the anthem thus:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons 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.
Oh Canada, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Notice the difference? The third line from the end is different:

Oh Canada, glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

instead of

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

It was changed in the late 70’s by Montreal Canadian anthem singer Roger Doucet. I remember the scandal, my sainted mother herself was outraged. How dare he!

But we were a different country then, a hardier people. From Roger Doucet’s lips to Canada’s ears, as it were. Within’ a year or so the new lyrics were official, although I don’t recall anybody declaring them so. It was an improvement (sorry mom), and it changed.

If Stephen Harper wants to mess with the anthem, he isn’t the first, won’t be the last. I’ve re-learned the damn song once, I can do it again (but do hurry, my memory isn’t what it used to be).

 It shows you, however, how far we’ve fallen. The government decides to change the lyrics and everybody wants to debate the point, instead of asking why we can’t wait until changes occur organically. What’s needed is for John McDermott to step up and change the lyrics. Mom will complain, then presto magico, they’re changed. No pimply minions of bureaucracy needed.

 

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Update: Here’s the actual words from a 1976 recording, released by teh Government of Canada for the 1976 Olympics:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love
in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts
we see thee rise,
The True North,
strong and free!
And stand on guard
O Canada
We stand on guard for thee
Oh Canada,
glorious and free!
we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada,
we stand on guard for thee

You’ll see in the comments I was challenged on my memory of the words. This is accurate as printed on the back of said recording (which I found in a collectible shop today).

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  1. Adrian
    March 4th, 2010 at 19:10 | #1

    I remember the same change. I thought I was the only one.

  2. Nicola Timmerman
    March 4th, 2010 at 20:10 | #2

    I’m sorry they dragged God into our anthem. Also we need to get rid of “la croix” in the French version (porter la croix).

    But what I think is more important is to give us a Macdonald-Cartier holiday in February so that we can start honouring our history instead of these generic Family and Flag Days.

  3. Durward
    March 4th, 2010 at 22:41 | #3

    What I remember most about singing the anthem in school was that without fail it caused me to yawn, my younger instincts were dead on it’s a boring boring song with a beat like a death march.
    Change it anyway he wants IMO.

  4. Frances
    March 5th, 2010 at 01:07 | #4

    Let’s go back to the original – no sons and no God – or else switch to the Maple Leaf Forever.

  5. real conservative
    March 5th, 2010 at 02:44 | #5

    There is no god, there is only liberals. Liberals are better than god because they promise us happiness by addiction to the flesh and buying our agreement with our own sweat.

  6. Stumack
    March 5th, 2010 at 09:14 | #6

    Weren’t the last three lines:

    Oh Canada, glorious and free!
    We stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada, we stand on guard for thee

    ???

  7. March 5th, 2010 at 09:28 | #7

    You could be right Stumack. I was trying desperately to remember exactly what it was. But singing both versions I’m 51% sure it was what I had.

  8. March 5th, 2010 at 18:18 | #8

    Stumack. By remarkable coincidence, I found a 45 recording of National Anthem from the 1976 Olympics. You were right. Here’s the words as printed on the sleeve.

    O Canada!
    Our home and native land!
    True patriot love
    in all thy sons command.
    With glowing hearts
    we see thee rise,
    The True North,
    strong and free!
    And stand on guard
    O Canada
    We stand on guard for thee
    Oh Canada,
    glorious and free!
    we stand on guard for thee.
    O Canada,
    we stand on guard for thee

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