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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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