Today is the Queen's Birthday public holiday in Australia.
Here are some facts, trivia and items of interest about the anthem "God Save the Queen".
"God Save the Queen" is interchangeable with “God Save the King” depending on the gender of the reigning monarch.
It is the royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the British Crown dependencies.
The author of the tune is unknown but it has been attributed to the composer John Bull (1562-1628).
The first published version of what is almost the present tune appeared in 1744.
The lyrics as published in the Gentleman's Magazine in 1745 ran:
God save great George our king,
Long live our noble king,
God save the king.
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the king!
"God Save the Queen" is the national anthem of the United Kingdom.
In 1984 the Royal Proclamation issued by Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen declared "God Save the Queen" to be the Royal Anthem and that it is to be played when the Australian monarch or a member of the Royal Family is present, though not exclusively in such circumstances.
The same proclamation made "Advance Australia Fair" the national anthem.
Prior to 1984 "God Save the Queen" was the national anthem of Australia.
David (now Sir David) Smith, official secretary to the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, had been troubled when the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam, instructed that the words "God save the Queen" were to be dropped from the proclamation announcing the double dissolution of Parliament in 1974. According to Smith, Whitlam had drawn a line through what he had referred to as “the request to the Almighty", adding a handwritten note, "We'll have no more of this nonsense."
Nineteen months later, on the day that Kerr dismissed Whitlam and his Government, Smith was tasked with reading Kerr’s proclamation. Smith thought it "appropriate to revert to the proper form". He told Ewart Smith, the deputy secretary in the Attorney-General's Department: "Don't forget to put 'God save the Queen' back in."'
David Smith’s book: Head of State - the Governor-General, the Monarchy, the Republic and the Dismissal (Macleay Press)
Smith read the proclamation on the steps of Parliament House 4 hours after Kerr had terminated Whitlam’s commission, ending with the words “God Save the Queen.”
A grim faced Whitlam stepped forward, removed the microphone from Smith and commenced speaking with the words "Well may we say 'God save the Queen', because nothing will save the Governor-General".
Click on the following link and activate the clip at that site to see and hear Whitlam’s “Kerr’s cur” speech:
Sir David Smith reading the proclamation
The melody of GSTQ continues to be used for the national anthem of Liechtenstein, "Oben am jungen Rhein", and the royal anthem of Norway, "Kongesangen".
In the United States, the melody is used for the patriotic song "My Country, 'Tis of Thee" (also known as "America").
Beyond its first verse, which is consistent, "God Save the Queen/King" has many historic versions. Since its first publication, different verses have been added and taken away and, even today, different publications include various selections of verses in various orders. In general, only one verse is sung. Sometimes two verses are sung, and on rare occasions, three.
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.
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.
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
The phrase "God Save the King" is much older than the song, appearing, for instance, several times in the King James Bible. A text based on the 1st Book of Kings Chapter 1: verses 38–40, "...And all the people rejoic'd, and said: God save the King! Long live the King! May the King live for ever, Amen", has been sung at every coronation since that of King Edgar in 973.
A less militaristic version of the song, titled "Official peace version, 1919", was first published in the hymn book Songs of Praise in 1925. This was "official" in the sense that it was approved by the British Privy Council in 1919. However, despite being reproduced in some other hymn books, it is largely unknown today.
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!
One realm of races four
Blest more and ever more
God save our land!
Home of the brave and free
Set in the silver sea
True nurse of chivalry
God save our land!
Of many a race and birth
From utmost ends of earth
God save us all!
Bid strife and hatred cease
Bid hope and joy increase
Spread universal peace
God save us all!
A version from 1794 composed by the American republican and French citizen Joel Barlow celebrated the power of the guillotine to liberate:
God save the Guillotine
Till England’s King and Queen
Her power shall prove:
Till each appointed knob
Affords a clipping job
Let no vile halter rob
France, let thy trumpet sound –
Tell all the world around
How CAPET fell;
And when great GEORGE's poll
Shall in the basket roll,
Let mercy then control
When all the sceptre'd crew
Have paid their Homage, due
Let Freedom’s flag advance
Till all the world, like France
O'er tyrants' graves shall dance
And PEACE begin.
The sovereign and her or his spouse are saluted with the entire composition, while other members of the royal family who are entitled to royal salute (such as the Prince of Wales, Duke of Cambridge and Duke of Sussex along with their spouses) receive just the first six bars.
In 2015 the newly-elected leader of Britain's opposition Labour party, Jeremy Corbyn, was criticised after he chose to stand in silence rather than sing the national anthem Gods Save the Queen at a service to mark the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Britain. Corbyn, a veteran left-wing politician, is a republican and does not support the British monarchy.
‘God Save The Queen” (or, as was more usual until 1837, “God Save The King”), was originally a Jacobite drinking song, sung in secret in the years after 1688 by those loyal to the exiled Stuart dynasty. Fifty years later, what had started as a Scottish “traitors’” song was rediscovered and repurposed in praise of the Georgian monarchy. Like “Rule, Britannia!”, what we now know as an expression of loyalty thus began life as an expression of dissent.
“God Save the King” became synonymous with preservation of the old, autocratic and privileged order. In France, it was opposed by singing the new French song of liberty, the Marseillaise. In England songs of opposition were also sung, often in the same locations, in scenes that must have been eerily reminiscent of the famous scene in the film Casablanca.
Reformers were against singing lyrics that they saw as asking God to preserve corrupt and unjust regimes. Christians often saw such words as blasphemous. They would no doubt have supported Gough Whitlam deriding a call for the Almighty to save a monarch whose representative in Oz had just sacked his popularly elected government, a sacking without so much as a ‘by your leave’.
British punk rock band the Sex Pistols had a hit with the band's second single “God Save the Queen”, which was later included on their only album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here's the Sex Pistols. The song was released during Queen Elizabeth II's Silver Jubilee in 1977.
The song is a rant about the monarchy. “God Save The Queen, she’s not a human being, and there’s no future, and England’s dreaming.” The record's lyrics, as well as the cover, were controversial at the time, and both the BBC and the Independent Broadcasting Authority refused to play the song.
Happy Birthday, Your Maj.