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O Canada

O Canada

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It has been noted that the opening theme of "O Canada" bears a strong resemblance to the "Marsch der Priester" ("March of the Priests"), from the opera Die Zauberflöte (The Magic Flute), composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart , baptismal name Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart , was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. He composed over 600 works, many acknowledged as pinnacles of symphonic, concertante, chamber, piano, operatic, and choral music...

, and that Lavallée's melody was inspired by Mozart's tune. The line "The True North strong and free" is based on Alfred Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language....

's description of Canada as "that True North whereof we lately heard." In the context of Tennyson's poem, the word "true" means "loyal" or "faithful".

The lyrics and melody of "O Canada" are both in the public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

, a status unaffected by the trademark
Trademark
A trademark, trade mark, or trade-mark is a distinctive sign or indicator used by an individual, business organization, or other legal entity to identify that the products or services to consumers with which the trademark appears originate from a unique source, and to distinguish its products or...

ing of the phrases "with glowing hearts" and "des plus brillants exploits" for the 2010 Winter Olympics
2010 Winter Olympics
The 2010 Winter Olympics, officially the XXI Olympic Winter Games or the 21st Winter Olympics, were a major international multi-sport event held from February 12–28, 2010, in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, with some events held in the suburbs of Richmond, West Vancouver and the University...

 in Vancouver. Two provinces have adopted Latin translations of phrases from the English lyrics as their mottos: Manitoba
Coat of arms of Manitoba
The original coat of arms of Manitoba was granted to Manitoba by a Royal Warrant of King Edward VII on 10 May 1905. The shield is also featured on the provincial flag.-History:...

Gloriosus et Liber ("Glorious and Free") and Alberta
Coat of arms of Alberta
The original coat of arms of Alberta was granted to Alberta by a Royal Warrant of King Edward VII on 30 May 1907. The shield is also featured on the flag of Alberta.-History:...

Fortis et Liber ("Strong and Free"). Similarly, the motto of the Canadian Army is Vigilamus Pro Te ("We Stand on Guard for Thee").

Lyric changes


Weir's original lyrics from 1908 contained no religious references and used the phrase "thou dost in us command" before they were changed by Weir in 1914 to read "in all thy sons command". In 1926, a fourth verse of a religious nature was added.

In June 1990, Toronto City Council
Toronto City Council
The Toronto City Council is the governing body of the city of Toronto, Ontario, Canada.Members represent wards throughout the city, and are known as councillors....

 voted 12 to 7 in favour of recommending to the Canadian government
Government of Canada
The Government of Canada, formally Her Majesty's Government, is the system whereby the federation of Canada is administered by a common authority; in Canadian English, the term can mean either the collective set of institutions or specifically the Queen-in-Council...

 that the phrase "our home and native land" be changed to "our home and cherished land" and that "in all thy sons command" be partly reverted to "in all of us command." Also proposed, but ultimately rejected, was the alternate wording "thy sons and daughters stand." Councillor Howard Moscoe
Howard Moscoe
Howard Moscoe was a city councillor in Toronto, Canada, representing Ward 15 in the western part of Eglinton-Lawrence. Among the most prominent and longest-serving councillors in the city, he is also known for an outspokenness which has landed him in controversy at times. Moscoe is a member of...

 said that the words native land were not appropriate for the many Canadians who were not native-born and that the word sons implied "that women can't feel true patriotism or love for Canada." Senator Vivienne Poy
Vivienne Poy
Vivienne Poy was appointed to the Senate of Canada in 1998. Poy came to Canada as a university student in 1959. She is the first Canadian senator of Asian ancestry. She graduated from St...

 similarly criticized the English lyrics of the anthem as being sexist and she introduced a bill in 2002 proposing to change the phrase "in all thy sons command" to "in all of us command." In the late 2000s, the anthem's religious references (to God in English and to the Christian cross
Christian cross
The Christian cross, seen as a representation of the instrument of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, is the best-known religious symbol of Christianity...

 in French) were criticized by secularists.

In the Throne Speech
Speech from the Throne
A speech from the throne is an event in certain monarchies in which the reigning sovereign reads a prepared speech to a complete session of parliament, outlining the government's agenda for the coming session...

 delivered by Governor General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

 Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean
Michaëlle Jean is a Canadian journalist and stateswoman who served as Governor General of Canada, the 27th since Canadian Confederation, from 2005 to 2010....

 on March 3, 2010, a plan to have parliament review the "original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem" was announced. However, three quarters of Canadians polled after the speech objected to the proposal and, two days later, the prime minister's office
Office of the Prime Minister (Canada)
In Canada, the Office of the Prime Minister , located in the Langevin Block, on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, is one of the most powerful parts of the government. It is made up of the prime minister and his or her top political staff, who are charged with advising the prime minister on decisions,...

 announced that the Cabinet had decided to leave the national anthem alone.

History



The original French lyrics of "O Canada" were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier
Adolphe-Basile Routhier
Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier was a Canadian judge, author, and lyricist. He wrote the lyrics of the original French version of the Canadian national anthem O Canada. He was born in Saint-Placide, Quebec to Charles Routhier and Angélique Lafleur.Routhier studied law at Université Laval and graduated...

, to music composed by Calixa Lavallée
Calixa Lavallée
Calixa Lavallée, , born Calixte Lavallée, was a French-Canadian-American musician and Union officer during the American Civil War who composed the music for O Canada, which officially became the national anthem of Canada in 1980.-Biography:Calixa Lavallée was born at Verchères, a suburb of...

, as a French Canadian
French Canadian
French Canadian or Francophone Canadian, , generally refers to the descendents of French colonists who arrived in New France in the 17th and 18th centuries...

 patriotic song for the Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society
Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society
The Saint-Jean-Baptiste Society is an institution in Quebec dedicated to the protection of Quebec francophone interests and to the promotion of Quebec Sovereignism. Its current President is Mario Beaulieu....

 and first performed on June 24, 1880, at a Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day banquet in Quebec City
Quebec City
Quebec , also Québec, Quebec City or Québec City is the capital of the Canadian province of Quebec and is located within the Capitale-Nationale region. It is the second most populous city in Quebec after Montreal, which is about to the southwest...

. At that time, the "Chant National", also by Routhier, was popular amongst Francophones as an anthem, while "God Save the Queen
God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen" is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, with "King" replacing "Queen", "he" replacing "she", and so forth, when a king reigns...

" and "The Maple Leaf Forever
The Maple Leaf Forever
"The Maple Leaf Forever" is a Canadian song written by Alexander Muir in 1867, the year of Canada's Confederation. He wrote the work after serving with The Queen's Own Rifles of Canada in the Battle of Ridgeway against the Fenians in 1866....

" had, since 1867, been competing as unofficial national anthems in English Canada
English Canada
English Canada is a term used to describe one of the following:# English-speaking Canadians, as opposed to French-speaking Canadians. It is employed when comparing English- and French-language literature, media, or art...

. "O Canada" joined that fray when a group of school children sang it for the 1901 tour of Canada by the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall
Duke of Cornwall
The Duchy of Cornwall was the first duchy created in the peerage of England.The present Duke of Cornwall is The Prince of Wales, the eldest son of Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning British monarch .-History:...

 (later King George V
George V of the United Kingdom
George V was King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Emperor of India, from 6 May 1910 through the First World War until his death in 1936....

 and Queen Mary
Mary of Teck
Mary of Teck was the queen consort of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions, and Empress of India, as the wife of King-Emperor George V....

).

Five years later, the Whaley and Royce company in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, Ontario
Ontario
Ontario is a province of Canada, located in east-central Canada. It is Canada's most populous province and second largest in total area. It is home to the nation's most populous city, Toronto, and the nation's capital, Ottawa....

, published the music with the French text and a first translation into English by Thomas Bedford Richardson and, in 1908, Collier's Weekly magazine held a competition to write new English lyrics for "O Canada". The competition was won by Mercy E. Powell McCulloch, but her version never gained wide acceptance. In fact, many made English translations of Routhier's words; however, the one version that gained the widest currency was written in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer and at the time Recorder of the City of Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

. A slightly modified version of his poem was published in an official form for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927, and gradually it became the most widely accepted and performed version of this song, winning out among the alternatives by the 1960s.

The tune was thought to have become the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 national anthem after King George VI
George VI of the United Kingdom
George VI was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth from 11 December 1936 until his death...

 remained at attention during its playing at the dedication of the National War Memorial
National War Memorial (Canada)
The National War Memorial , is a tall granite cenotaph with acreted bronze sculptures, that stands in Confederation Square, Ottawa, and serves as the federal war memorial for Canada....

 in Ottawa
Ottawa
Ottawa is the capital of Canada, the second largest city in the Province of Ontario, and the fourth largest city in the country. The city is located on the south bank of the Ottawa River in the eastern portion of Southern Ontario...

, Ontario, on May 21, 1939; though George was actually following a precedent set by his brother, Edward
Edward VIII of the United Kingdom
Edward VIII was King of the United Kingdom and the Dominions of the British Commonwealth, and Emperor of India, from 20 January to 11 December 1936.Before his accession to the throne, Edward was Prince of Wales and Duke of Cornwall and Rothesay...

, the previous king of Canada, when he dedicated the Canadian National Vimy Memorial
Canadian National Vimy Memorial
The Canadian National Vimy Memorial is a memorial site in France dedicated to the memory of Canadian Expeditionary Force members killed during the First World War. It also serves as the place of commemoration for First World War Canadian soldiers killed or presumed dead in France who have no known...

 in France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 in 1936. Still, by-laws and practices governing the use of song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto
Toronto
Toronto is the provincial capital of Ontario and the largest city in Canada. It is located in Southern Ontario on the northwestern shore of Lake Ontario. A relatively modern city, Toronto's history dates back to the late-18th century, when its land was first purchased by the British monarchy from...

, "God Save the Queen" was employed, while in Montreal
Montreal
Montreal is a city in Canada. It is the largest city in the province of Quebec, the second-largest city in Canada and the seventh largest in North America...

 it was "O Canada".

Prime Minister
Prime Minister of Canada
The Prime Minister of Canada is the primary minister of the Crown, chairman of the Cabinet, and thus head of government for Canada, charged with advising the Canadian monarch or viceroy on the exercise of the executive powers vested in them by the constitution...

 Lester B. Pearson
Lester B. Pearson
Lester Bowles "Mike" Pearson, PC, OM, CC, OBE was a Canadian professor, historian, civil servant, statesman, diplomat, and politician, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1957 for organizing the United Nations Emergency Force to resolve the Suez Canal Crisis...

 in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country's national anthem and the government resolved to form a joint committee to review the status of the two musical works. The next year, Pearson put to the House of Commons a motion that "the government be authorized to take such steps as may be necessary to provide that 'O Canada' shall be the National Anthem of Canada while 'God Save the Queen' shall be the Royal Anthem of Canada," of which parliament approved. In 1967, the Prime Minister advised Governor General
Governor General of Canada
The Governor General of Canada is the federal viceregal representative of the Canadian monarch, Queen Elizabeth II...

 Georges Vanier
Georges Vanier
Major-General Georges-Philéas Vanier was a Canadian soldier and diplomat who served as Governor General of Canada, the 19th since Canadian Confederation....

 to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons
Canadian House of Commons
The House of Commons of Canada is a component of the Parliament of Canada, along with the Sovereign and the Senate. The House of Commons is a democratically elected body, consisting of 308 members known as Members of Parliament...

 on the National and Royal Anthems; the group first met in February and, within two months, on April 12, 1967, presented its conclusion that "O Canada" should be designated as the national anthem and "God Save the Queen
God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen" is an anthem used in a number of Commonwealth realms and British Crown Dependencies. The words of the song, like its title, are adapted to the gender of the current monarch, with "King" replacing "Queen", "he" replacing "she", and so forth, when a king reigns...

" as the Royal Anthem
Honors music
The honours music for a person, office or rank is music played on formal or ceremonial occasions in the presence of the person, office-holder, or rank-holder, especially by a military band...

 of Canada, one verse from each, in both official languages, to be adopted by parliament. The group was then charged with establishing official lyrics for each song. For "O Canada", the Robert Stanley Weir version of 1908 was recommended, with a few minor changes, for the English words; two of the "stand on guard" phrases were replaced with "from far and wide" and "God keep our land."

Still, it was not until 1970 that the Queen in Right of Canada purchased the right to the lyrics and music of "O Canada" and 1980 before the song finally became the official national anthem via the National Anthem Act. The act established a religious reference to the English lyrics and the phrase "From far and wide, O Canada" to replace one of the somewhat tedious repetitions of the phrase "We stand on guard." This change was controversial with traditionalists and, for several years afterwards, it was not uncommon to hear people (some by choice, some by memory reflex) still singing the old lyrics at public events. In contrast, the French version has never been changed from its original.

Historical refrain


Below are some slightly different versions of the second and third stanzas and the refrain, plus an additional fourth stanza, but these are rarely sung. There is also a hymnal version of the lyrics, written by Albert D. Watson.
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!

Refrain:
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!

Refrain

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.

Refrain
Lord of the lands, beneath Thy bending skies,
On field and flood, where’er our banner flies,
Thy people lift their hearts to Thee,
Their grateful voices raise:
May our dominion ever be
A temple to Thy praise.
Thy will alone let all enthrone:

Refrain:
Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own:
Lord of the lands, make Canada Thine own!

Almighty Love, by Thy mysterious power,
In wisdom guide, with faith and freedom dower;
Be ours a nation evermore
That no oppression blights,
Where justice rules from shore to shore,
From lakes to northern lights.
May love alone for wrong atone;

Refrain

Lord of the worlds, with strong eternal hand,
Hold us in honour, truth and self-command;
The loyal heart, the constant mind,
The courage to be true,
Our wide extending empire bind,
And all the earth renew.
Thy Name be known through every zone;

Refrain


The Buchan version, was once popular in British Columbia.
O Canada, our heritage, our love;
Thy worth we praise all other lands above;
From sea to sea throughout thy length,
From pole to borderland,
At Britain's side, what'er betide
Unflinchingly we'll stand;
With heart we sing, "God Save the King",
Guide then one empire wide, do we implore,
And prosper Canada from shore to shore.

Performances


Singers at public events often mix the English and French lyrics to represent Canada's linguistic duality. For example, one common form is singing the first three and last three lines in English. The last two lines could also alternate between English and French. Roger Doucet
Roger Doucet
Roger Doucet, CM was a Canadian tenor best known for singing the Canadian national anthem, "O Canada", on televised games of the Montreal Canadiens, Montreal Alouettes, and Montreal Expos during the 1970s...

, the former singer of national anthems at the Montreal Forum
Montreal Forum
The Montreal Forum was an indoor arena located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. Called "the most storied building in hockey history" by Sporting News, it was home of the National Hockey League's Montreal Maroons from 1924 to 1938 and the Montreal Canadiens from 1926 to 1996...

 for the National Hockey League
National Hockey League
The National Hockey League is an unincorporated not-for-profit association which operates a major professional ice hockey league of 30 franchised member clubs, of which 7 are currently located in Canada and 23 in the United States...

's Montreal Canadiens
Montreal Canadiens
The Montreal Canadiens are a professional ice hockey team based in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is officially known as ...

 team, almost always sang the first seven lines in French, and then completed the song in English. This practice has continued with the team's following anthem singers.

"O Canada" is routinely played before sporting events involving Canadian teams. During the opening ceremonies of the 1988 Winter Olympics
1988 Winter Olympics
The 1988 Winter Olympics, officially known as the XV Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event celebrated in and around Calgary, Alberta, Canada from 13 to 28 February 1988. The host was selected in 1981 after having beat Falun, Sweden and Cortina d'Ampezzo, Italy...

 in Calgary, "O Canada" was performed in the Southern Tutchone language
Tutchone language
Tutchone is a threatened Athabaskan language spoken in the Yukon Territory in Canada. It has two varieties that are sometimes considered separate languages, Southern Tutchone and Northern Tutchone....

 by Yukon native Daniel Tlen. The NHL requires arenas to perform both the Canadian and American national anthem
The Star-Spangled Banner
"The Star-Spangled Banner" is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from "Defence of Fort McHenry", a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships...

s at games that involve teams from both countries. One American team, the Buffalo Sabres
Buffalo Sabres
The Buffalo Sabres are a professional ice hockey team based in Buffalo, New York. They are members of the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference of the National Hockey League .-Founding and early success: 1970-71—1980-81:...

, goes a step further and performs both anthems before every game, a nod to Buffalo's
Buffalo, New York
Buffalo is the second most populous city in the state of New York, after New York City. Located in Western New York on the eastern shores of Lake Erie and at the head of the Niagara River across from Fort Erie, Ontario, Buffalo is the seat of Erie County and the principal city of the...

 location near the Canadian border and the team's substantial number of Canadian fans. At a Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames are a professional ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They are members of the Northwest Division of the Western Conference of the National Hockey League . The club is the third major-professional ice hockey team to represent the city of Calgary, following the...

 game in February 2007, young Cree
Cree
The Cree are one of the largest groups of First Nations / Native Americans in North America, with 200,000 members living in Canada. In Canada, the major proportion of Cree live north and west of Lake Superior, in Ontario, Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Alberta and the Northwest Territories, although...

 singer Akina Shirt
Akina Shirt
Akina Shirt is a singer known for her performances in the Cree language. Currently she sings in three choirs: Victoria School's Mixed Jazz Choir, the prestigious Kokopelli Choir and the Sacred Heart Church of First People’s Choir.- Performances :Shirt gained fame by singing "O Canada" in Cree at a...

 became the first person ever to perform "O Canada" in the Cree language
Cree language
Cree is an Algonquian language spoken by approximately 117,000 people across Canada, from the Northwest Territories and Alberta to Labrador, making it the aboriginal language with the highest number of speakers in Canada. It is also spoken in the U.S. state of Montana...

 at an NHL contest. Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball
Major League Baseball is the highest level of professional baseball in the United States and Canada, consisting of teams that play in the National League and the American League...

 teams have also played the song at games involving the Toronto Blue Jays
Toronto Blue Jays
The Toronto Blue Jays are a professional baseball team located in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The Blue Jays are a member of the Eastern Division of Major League Baseball 's American League ....

, the former Montreal Expos
Montreal Expos
The Montreal Expos were a Major League Baseball team located in Montreal, Quebec from 1969 through 2004, holding the first MLB franchise awarded outside the United States. After the 2004 season, MLB moved the Expos to Washington, D.C. and renamed them the Nationals.Named after the Expo 67 World's...

 and at the beginning of the All Star Game. Previously, recordings of the anthem were broadcast at television networks' sign-on and sign-off.

Laws and etiquette


The National Anthem Act specifies the lyrics and melody of "O Canada", placing both of them in the public domain
Public domain
Works are in the public domain if the intellectual property rights have expired, if the intellectual property rights are forfeited, or if they are not covered by intellectual property rights at all...

, allowing the anthem to be freely reproduced or used as a base for derived works, including musical arrangements. There are no regulations governing the performance of "O Canada", leaving citizens to exercise their best judgment. When it is performed at an event, traditional etiquette is to either start or end the ceremonies with the anthem, including situations when other anthems are played, and for the audience to stand during the performance. Civilian men usually remove their hats, while women and children are not required to do so.

See also


  • Honors music
    Honors music
    The honours music for a person, office or rank is music played on formal or ceremonial occasions in the presence of the person, office-holder, or rank-holder, especially by a military band...

  • List of national anthems
  • Music of Canada
    Music of Canada
    The music of Canada has influences that have shaped the country. Aboriginals, the British, and the French have all made unique contributions to the musical heritage of Canada. The music has subsequently been heavily influenced by American culture because of its proximity and migration between...



External links