Thursday, July 26, 2012

Full words to the National Anthem

Some 24 years ago at the close of a conference, at which I was on the edge of the platform as a junior member of the management committee of the organisation concerned, the music of the national anthem began. Everyone was supposed to sing the first verse, and I duly started to do so.

Nobody else joined in.

I carried on singing and tried to put a "come on, join in" expression  on my face.

By now everyone was staring at me but still nobody else joined in.

I wasn't going to stop - not least because if I had, everyone would have fallen about laughing, which would have been even more inappropriate, so I carried on to the end of the verse.

And sang the entire verse as a solo.

With a couple of hundred people all looking at me in with an evident mixture of emotions written on their faces, predominant amonst which was a desperate attempt not to laugh.

We reached the end of what seemed like the longest first verse of the national anthem which I can ever recall, and finally everyone burst out laughing, and the conference chairman said, not unkindly, something along the lines of "Trust Chris Whiteside to have the last word."

I forget my exact reply but it was something like "Why weren't the rest of you singing?"

Or possibly something similar in meaning but slightly ruder.

Several people claimed not to have been able to remember the words, and for the rest of the time that organisation existed, the words of the first verse of the national anthem were printed in the conference handbook. Several people who queried the need for this four years later when I had become chairman of the organisation myself got a very short and dismissive answer.

I see that British athletes have had to be told to brush up on the words to the third verse for the Olympics as team GB is using the first and third verses at the games.

Not counting the infamous 18th century anti-jacobite verse, the national anthem actually has five verses. The second, which actually sounds really stirring when sung properly, is hardly ever heard these days because it isn't very politically correct. Which is a great shame, but I can see why they wouldn't want to sing it at an international gathering such as the Olympics.

By the same token, the fourth verse of God Save the Queen, which is as internationalist as the second verse is nationalistic, would have been entirely appropriate for the Olympics, but they've gone with verse three because after the first verse it is the best known.

The full five verses are as follows:

1. 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

2. O Lord our God arise
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On Thee our hopes we fix
God save us all

3. Thy choicest gifts in store
On her be pleased to pour
Long may she reign
May she defend our laws
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen

4. Not in this land alone
But be God's mercies known
From shore to shore
Lord make the nations see
That men should brothers be
And form one family
The wide world over

5. From every latent foe
From the assassins blow
God save the Queen
O'er her thine arm extend
For Britain's sake defend
Our mother, prince, and friend
God save the Queen

P.S. Has a hacker been at the Daily Telegraph page with the official lyrics of the National Anthem for use at Jubilee celebrations? Or is someone at the paper being very naughty? Because the original anti-Jacobite sixth verse is currently included, but just below the "related articles" links so that someone who doesn't scroll all the way down will miss it. See here. I wonder what Alex Salmond will have to say ...

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