Canada Day rant

For folks unhappy about some minor changes to the wording of our national anthem, here’s some history for you. “O Canada” was composed in 1880 by Calixa Lavallee, lyrics were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. These are the original lyrics:

Sous l’œil de Dieu, près du fleuve géant,
Le Canadien grandit en espérant.
Il est né d’une race fière,
Béni fut son berceau.
Le ciel a marqué sa carrière
Dans ce monde nouveau.
Toujours guidé par sa lumière,
Il gardera l’honneur de son drapeau,
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
Mais plein de loyauté,
Il veut garder dans l’harmonie,
Sa fière liberté;
Et par l’effort de son génie,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité,
Sur notre sol asseoir la vérité.
Amour sacré du trône et de l’autel,
Remplis nos cœurs 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,
Le cri vainqueur : “Pour le Christ et le roi!”
Le cri vainqueur : “Pour le Christ et le roi!”


Under the eye of God, near the giant river,
The Canadian grows hoping.
He was born of a proud race,
Blessed was his birthplace.
Heaven has noted his career
In this new world.
Always guided by its light,
He will keep the honour of his flag,
He will keep the honour of his flag.
From his patron, the precursor of the true God,
He wears the halo of fire on his brow.
Enemy of tyranny
But full of loyalty,
He wants to keep in harmony,
His proud freedom;
And by the effort of his genius,
Set on our ground the truth,
Set on our ground the truth.
Sacred love of the throne and the altar,
Fill our hearts with your immortal breath!
Among the foreign races,
Our guide is the law:
Let us know how to be a people of brothers,
Under the yoke of faith.
And repeat, like our fathers,
The battle cry: “For Christ and King!”
The battle cry: “For Christ and King!”

Other English translations were written in 1906 and 1908. The 1908 version was revised twice before 1980, and once again that year when “O Canada” became our official national anthem (before that it was “God Save the King / Queen”).

So we changed a few words just now. Personally, I’m proud to live in a country that’s trying to be inclusive and self- reflective. Where things like words to our national anthem are not sacrosanct. Also: whenever I’ve sung “O Canada” in a public setting, I’m one of the few who know the lyrics beyond the first few lines, and one of the few who actually bother to sing our anthem. So get over it.

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