God Save the Queen

God Save the Queen
"God Save the Queen"
Sheet music of God Save the Queen
Publication of an early version in The Gentleman's Magazine, 15 October 1745. The title, on the Contents page, is given as "God save our lord the king: A new song set for two voices".

National and
Royal anthem of
Independent states

 ·  United Kingdom
 ·  New Zealand
 ·  Antigua and Barbuda (royal)
 ·  Australia (royal)
 ·  Bahamas (royal)
 ·  Barbados (royal)
 ·  Belize (royal)
 ·  Canada (royal)
 ·  Grenada (royal)
 ·  Jamaica (royal)
 ·  Saint Kitts and Nevis (royal)
 ·  Tuvalu (royal)
British Crown dependencies
 ·  Jersey
 ·  Guernsey

 ·  Isle of Man (royal)
Also known as "God Save the King"
(when the monarch is male)
Lyrics Author unknown
Music Thomas Augustine Arne
Adopted 1745
Music sample
God Save the Queen sung by the public at St Giles' Fair, Oxford, 2007.

Standard version of the music

The standard version of the melody is still that of the original, and in the same key of G, though the start of the anthem is often signalled by an introductory side-drum roll of two bars length. The bass line of the standard version differs little from the second voice part shown in the original, and there is a standard version in four-part harmony for choirs. The first three lines (six bars of music) are soft, ending with a short crescendo into "Send her victorious", and then is another crescendo at "over us:" into the final words "God save the Queen".

In the early part of the twentieth century there existed a Military Band version, usually played in march time, in the higher key of B,[27] because it was easier for brass instruments to play in that key, though it had the disadvantage of being more difficult to sing: however now most Bands play it in the correct key of G.

Historic additional verses

Around 1745, anti-Jacobite sentiment was captured in a verse appended to the song, with a prayer for the success of Field Marshal George Wade's army then assembling at Newcastle. These words attained some short-term use, although they did not appear in the published version in the October 1745 Gentleman's Magazine. The source of this verse was a later article on the song, published by the Gentleman's Magazine in 1837. Therein, it is presented as an "additional verse... though being of temporary application only... stored in the memory of an old friend... who was born in the very year 1745, and was thus the associate of those who heard it first sung", the lyrics given being:

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,
May by thy mighty aid,
Victory bring.
May he sedition hush,
and like a torrent rush,
Rebellious Scots to crush,
God save the King.

The 1837 article and other sources make it clear that this verse was not used soon after 1745, and certainly before the song became accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s.[28][29] It was included as an integral part of the song in the Oxford Book of Eighteenth Century Verse of 1926, although erroneously referencing the "fourth verse" to the Gentleman's Magazine article of 1745.[30]

On the opposing side, Jacobite beliefs were demonstrated in an alternative verse used during the same period:[31]

God bless the prince, I pray,
God bless the prince, I pray,
Charlie I mean;
That Scotland we may see
Freed from vile Presbyt'ry,
Both George and his Feckie,
Ever so, Amen.

Various other attempts were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to add verses to commemorate particular royal or national events. For example, according to Fitzroy Maclean, when Jacobite forces bypassed Wade's force and reached Derby, but then retreated and when their garrison at Carlisle Castle surrendered to a second government army led by King George's son, the Duke of Cumberland, another verse was added.[32] Other short-lived verses were notably anti-French, such as the following, quoted in the book Handel by Edward J. Dent:[33]

From France and Pretender
Great Britain defend her,
Foes let them fall;
From foreign slavery,
Priests and their knavery,
And Popish Reverie,
God save us all.

However, none of these additional verses survived into the twentieth century.[34] Other changes were incorporated over time, for example King George V (1865–1936) asked that the line 'Frustrate their popish tricks' should be changed to 'Frustrate their knavish tricks'.

Alternative British versions

There have been several attempts to improve the song by rewriting the words. In the nineteenth century there was some lively debate about the national anthem and, even then, verse two was considered to be slightly offensive. Notably, the question arose over the phrase "scatter her enemies." Some thought it placed better emphasis on the respective power of Parliament and the Crown to change "her" to "our"; others pointed out that the theology was somewhat dubious and substituted "thine" instead. Sydney G. R. Coles wrote a completely new version, as did Canon F. K. Harford.[35] In 1836, William Edward Hickson wrote four alternative verses. The first, third, and fourth of these verses are appended to the National Anthem in the English Hymnal (which only includes verses one and three of the original lyrics).

William Hickson's alternative version

William Hickson's alternative (1836) version includes the following verses, of which the first, third, and fourth have some currency as they are appended to the National Anthem in the English Hymnal. The fourth verse was sung after the traditional first verse during the raising of the Union Flag during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Official peace version

A less militaristic version of the song, titled "Official peace version, 1919", was first published in the hymn book Songs of Praise in 1925.[36] This was "official" in the sense that it was approved by the British Privy Council in 1919.[18] However, despite being reproduced in some other hymn books, it is largely unknown today.[37]

Other language versions

The lyrics have been translated into other languages spoken in the United Kingdom.

Performance in the United Kingdom

The style most commonly heard in official performances was proposed as the "proper interpretation" by King George V, who considered himself something of an expert (in view of the number of times he had heard it). An Army Order was duly issued in 1933, which laid down regulations for tempo, dynamics and orchestration. This included instructions such as that the opening "six bars will be played quietly by the reed band with horns and basses in a single phrase. Cornets and side-drum are to be added at the little scale-passage leading into the second half of the tune, and the full brass enters for the last eight bars". The official tempo for the opening section is a metronome setting of 60, with the second part played in a broader manner, at a metronome setting of 52.[38] In recent years the prescribed sombre-paced introduction is often played at a faster and livelier tempo.

Until the latter part of the 20th century, theatre and concert goers were expected to stand while the anthem was played after the conclusion of a show. In cinemas this brought a tendency for audiences to rush out while the end credits played to avoid this formality.

The anthem continues to be played at some traditional events such as Wimbledon, Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta and The Proms.

The anthem was traditionally played at closedown on the BBC and with the introduction of commercial television to the UK this practice was adopted by some ITV companies (with the notable exception of Granada) BBC Two never played the anthem at closedown, and ITV dropped the practice in the late 1980s, but it continued on BBC One until the final closedown on 8 November 1997 (thereafter BBC1 began to simulcast with BBC News 24 after end of programmes). The tradition is carried on, however, by BBC Radio 4, which usually plays the anthem as a transition piece between the end of the Radio Four broadcasting and the move to BBC World Service. Radio 4 and Radio 2 also play the National Anthem at 0700 and 0800 on the actual and official birthdays of the Queen and the birthdays of senior members of the Royal Family.

The anthem usually prefaces The Queen's Christmas Message (although in 2007 it appeared at the end, taken from a recording of the 1957 television broadcast), and important royal announcements, such as of royal deaths, when it is played in a slower, sombre arrangement.

Other British anthems

Frequently, when an anthem is needed for one of the constituent countries of the United Kingdom – at an international sporting event, for instance – an alternative song is used:

In April 2007 there was an Early Day Motion, number 1319, to the British Parliament to propose that there should be a separate England anthem: "That this House ... believes that all English sporting associations should adopt an appropriate song that English sportsmen and women, and the English public, would favour when competing as England". An amendment (EDM 1319A3) was proposed by Evan Harris that the song "should have a bit more oomph than God Save the Queen and should also not involve God."[49]

Use in other Commonwealth countries

"God Save the King/Queen" was exported around the world via the expansion of the British Empire, serving as each country's national anthem. Throughout the Empire's evolution into the Commonwealth of Nations, the song declined in use in most states which became independent. In some countries it remains as one of the official national anthems, such as in New Zealand,[50] or as an official royal anthem, as is the case in Australia, Canada, Jamaica, and Tuvalu, to be played during formal ceremonies involving national royalty or vice-royalty.[citation needed]


In Australia, the song has standing through a Royal Proclamation issued by Governor-General Sir Ninian Stephen on 19 April 1984.[51] It was declared the Royal Anthem and is to be played when the Monarch or a member of the Royal Family is present. The same Proclamation made "Advance Australia Fair" the National Anthem and the basis for the Vice-Regal Salute (the first four and last two bars of the Anthem).


In Canada, "God Save the Queen" is the Royal Anthem.[52][53][54][55][56] It was adopted as such not by statute or proclamation (thus having "no legal status in Canada"), but through convention,[57] and is sometimes played and/or sung together with the national anthem, "O Canada", at private and public events organised by groups such as the Government of Canada, the Royal Canadian Legion, police services, and loyal groups.[58][59][60][61][62]

"God Save the Queen" has been sung in Canada since the late 1700s and by the mid 20th century was, along with "O Canada", one of the country's two de facto national anthems, the first and last verses of the standard British version being used.[63] By-laws and practices governing the use of either song during public events in municipalities varied; in Toronto, "God Save the Queen" was employed, while in Montreal it was "O Canada". Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson in 1964 said one song would have to be chosen as the country's national anthem and, three years later, he advised Governor General Georges Vanier to appoint the Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons on the National and Royal Anthems. Within two months, on 12 April 1967, the committee presented its conclusion that "God Save the Queen", whose music and lyrics were found to be in the public domain,[64] should be designated as the Royal Anthem of Canada and "O Canada" as the national anthem, 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 "God Save the Queen", the English words were those inherited from the United Kingdom and the French words were taken from those that had been adopted in 1952 for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.[53] When the bill pronouncing "O Canada" as the national anthem was put through parliament, the joint committee's earlier recommendations regarding "God Save the Queen" were not included.[64]

The Department of National Defence and the Canadian Forces regulates that "God Save the Queen" be played as a salute to the monarch and other members of the Canadian Royal Family,[65] though it may also be used as a hymn, or prayer. The words are not to be sung when the song is played as a military Royal Salute and is abbreviated to the first three lines while arms are being presented.[65] Elizabeth II stipulated that the arrangement in G major by Lieutenant Colonel Basil H. Brown be used in Canada. The authorised version to be played by pipe bands is Mallorca.[65]

Lyrics in Canada

The first verse of "God Save the Queen" has been translated into French,[66] as shown below:

Dieu protège la reine
De sa main souveraine!
Vive la reine!
Qu'un règne glorieux,
Long et victorieux
Rende son peuple heureux.
Vive la reine!

There is a special Canadian verse in English which was once commonly sung in addition to the two standing verses:[63]

Our lovèd Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
United, loyal, free,
True to herself and Thee
For evermore.

Modernly, however, on the rare occasion that two verses of the royal anthem are sung, it is almost invariably sung in Canada the same as it is sung in UK — with the third verse ("Thy choicest gifts in store", etc.), sung as a second verse.

New Zealand

"God Save the Queen" was the sole national anthem until 1977 when "God Defend New Zealand" was added as a second. "God Save the Queen" is now most often only played when the Sovereign, Governor-General[67] or other member of the Royal Family is present, or on some occasions such as Anzac Day.[68][69]

In New Zealand, the second more militaristic verse is sometimes replaced with Hickson's verse "Nor in this land alone..." (often sung as Not in this land alone"), otherwise known as a "Commonwealth verse".

Akrotiri and Dhekelia

A Greek version of the national anthem is used in Akrotiri and Dhekelia as well as the English version. The anthem has no official status there however.

Use elsewhere

"God Save the King" was the first song to be used as a national anthem, although the Netherlands' national anthem, Het Wilhelmus, is older. Its success prompted a number of imitations, notably in France and, later, Germany. Both commissioned their own songs to help construct a concrete national identity. The first German national anthem used the melody of "God Save the King" with the words changed to Heil dir im Siegerkranz, and sung to the same tune as the UK version. The tune was either used or officially adopted as the national anthem for several other countries, including those of Russia (until 1833) and Switzerland (Rufst Du, mein Vaterland or O monts indépendants, until 1961). Molitva russkikh, considered to be the first Russian anthem, was also sung to the same music.

"God Save the King" was used as the national anthem of the Kingdom of Hawaii before 1860, and from 1860 to 1886 the national anthem E Ola Ke Alii Ke Akua was set to the same melody.

The melody is used in the patriotic hymn "America" (also known by its first line, "My Country, 'Tis of Thee"), the lyrics of which were written by Samuel Francis Smith in 1831. The song is often quoted – alongside "Hail, Columbia" – as a de facto national anthem for the United States, before the de jure adoption of "The Star-Spangled Banner" in the 1930s.

It is Norway's royal anthem titled Kongesangen.

It was the Swedish royal anthem between 1805 and 1880, titled Bevare Gud vår kung.

The tune is still used as the national anthem of Liechtenstein, Oben am jungen Rhein. The same tune was therefore played twice before the Euro 96 qualifying match between Northern Ireland and Liechtenstein; likewise when England played Liechtenstein in a Euro 2004 qualifier. (When England play Northern Ireland, the tune is only played once.)

The melody of "God Save the King" has been, and continues to be, used as a hymn tune by Christian churches in various countries. The United Methodists of the southern United States, Mexico, and Latin America, among other denominations (usually Protestant), play the same melody as a hymn. The Christian hymn "Glory to God on High" is frequently sung to the same tune, as well as an alternative tune that fits both lyrics. Note also that in the Protestant Church of Korea, it is sung as a choral hymn under the name of "Since I Have My Retreat".

Musical adaptations

Classical composers

About 140 composers, including Beethoven, Haydn, Clementi, J.C.Bach, Liszt, Brahms, Carl Maria von Weber, Niccolò Paganini, Johann Strauss I, and Edward Elgar have used the tune in their compositions.[4]

Ludwig van Beethoven composed a set of seven piano variations in the key of C major to the theme of "God Save the King", catalogued as WoO.78 (1802–1803). Moreover, he also quotes it in his "battle symphony" Wellington's Victory.

Muzio Clementi used the theme to "God Save the King" in his Symphony No. 3 in G major, often called the "Great National Symphony", catalogued as WoO. 34. Clementi paid a high tribute to his adopted homeland (the United Kingdom) where he grew up and stayed most of his lifetime. He based the Symphony (about 1816–1824) on "God Save the King", which is hinted at earlier in the work, not least in the second movement, and announced by the trombones in the finale. • Symphony No. 3 " Great National Symphony " in en sol majeur/G-dur/G major/sol maggiore 1. Andante sostenuto – Allegro con brio 2. Andante un poco mosso 3. Minuetto. Allegretto 4. Finale. Vivace

Johann Christian Bach composed a set of variations on "God Save the King" for the finale to his sixth keyboard concerto (Op. 1) written c. 1763.

Joseph Haydn was impressed by the use of "God Save the King" as a national anthem during his visit to London in 1794, and on his return to Austria wrote a tune to the national anthem, the Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser ("God Save Emperor Franz"), for the birthday of the Emperor Franz of Austria. The tune of "God Save the King" was later adopted for the Prussian national anthem Heil Dir im Siegerkranz.

Franz Liszt wrote a piano paraphrase on the anthem (S.259 in the official catalogue, c. 1841).

Johann Strauss I quoted God Save the Queen in full at the end of his waltz Huldigung der Königin Victoria von Grossbritannien (Homage to Queen Victoria of Great Britain) Op. 103, where he also quoted Rule, Britannia! in full at the beginning of the piece.

Siegfried August Mahlmann in the early 19th century wrote alternate lyrics to adapt the hymn for the Kingdom of Saxony, as "Gott segne Sachsenland" ("God Save Saxony").[70]

Gaetano Donizetti used this anthem in his opera "Roberto Devereux".

Joachim Raff used this anthem in his Jubelouverture, Opus 103 (1864) dedicated to Adolf, Herzogs von Nassau on the 25th anniversary of his reign.

Gioachino Rossini used this anthem in the last scene of his "Il viaggio a Reims", when all the characters, coming from many different European countries, sing a song which recalls their own homeland. Lord Sidney, bass, sings "Della real pianta" on the notes of "God save the King". Samuel Ramey used to interpolate a spectacular virtuoso cadenza at the end of the song.

Fernando Sor used the anthem in his 12 Studies, Op. 6: No. 10 in C Major in the section marked 'Maestoso.'

Arthur Sullivan quotes the anthem at the end of his ballet Victoria and Merrie England.

Claude Debussy opens with a brief introduction of God Save the King in one of his Preludes, Hommage à S. Pickwick Esq. P.P.M.P.C. The piece draws its inspiration from the main character of the Charles Dickens novel The Pickwick Papers.

Niccolò Paganini wrote a set of highly virtuosic variations on "God Save the King" as his Opus 9.

Max Reger wrote "Variations and Fugue on 'Heil dir im Siegerkranz' (God Save the King)" for organ in 1901 after the death of Queen Victoria. It does not have an opus number.

Sir Edward Elgar wrote his own orchestration of the National Anthem, performed with choir and symphony orchestra, for the occasion of the mayoral procession at the opening of the Hereford Music Festival on 4 September 1927.[71]

Carl Maria von Weber uses the "God Save the King" theme at the end of his "Jubel Overture"

Giuseppe Verdi, included "God Save the Queen" in his "Inno delle Nazioni" (Hymn of the Nations), composed for the London International Exhibition of 1862.

Charles Ives wrote Variations on "America" for organ in 1891 at age seventeen. It included a polytonal section in three simultaneous keys, though this was omitted from performances at his father's request, because "it made the boys laugh out loud". Ives was fond of the rapid pedal line in the final variation, which he said was "almost as much fun as playing baseball". The piece was not published until 1949; the final version includes an introduction, seven variations and a polytonal interlude. The piece was adapted for orchestra in 1963 by William Schuman. This version became popular during the bicentennial celebrations, and is often heard at pops concerts.

Muthuswami Dikshitar (1776–1835), one of the musical trinity in South Indian classical (Carnatic) music composed some Sanskrit pieces set to Western tunes. These are in the raga Sankarabharanam and are referred to as "nottu swaras". Among these, the composition "Santatam Pahimam Sangita Shyamale" is set to the tune of "God save the Queen"

Rock adaptations

The Beatles performed an impromptu version of "God Save the Queen" during their 30 January 1969 rooftop concert, atop the Apple building.[72]

Jimi Hendrix of The Jimi Hendrix Experience played an impromptu version of "God Save the Queen" to open his set at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970. Just before walking onto the stage, he can be seen (on the DVD) and heard to ask "How does it go again?" in reference to the said UK national anthem. He was able just to hear it mimicked by voice and then perform it.[73] Hendrix gave the same sort of distortion and improvisation of "God Save the Queen", as he had done with the "The Star-Spangled Banner" at the Woodstock Festival, 1969.[73]

In 1977, the Sex Pistols recorded a song titled "God Save the Queen" in open reference to the National Anthem and the Queen's Silver Jubilee celebrations that year, with the song intending to stand for sympathy for the working class and resentment of the monarchy.[74] They were banned from many venues, censored by mainstream media, and reached number 2 on the official U.K. singles charts and number 1 on the NME chart.[74][75]

QueenA Night at the Opera
"Bohemian Rhapsody"
(Track 11)
"God Save the Queen"
(Track 12)
(end of album)

The rock band Queen recorded an instrumental version of "God Save the Queen" on their 1975 album A Night at the Opera. It was arranged by guitarist Brian May and features his distinctive layers of overdubbed electric guitars. A tape of this version would be played at the end of almost every concert, with Freddie Mercury walking around the stage wearing a crown and a cloak on their Magic Tour in 1986.[76] On 3 June 2002, during the Queen's Golden Jubilee, Brian May performed the anthem on his Red Special electric guitar for Party at the Palace, performing from the roof of Buckingham Palace, and features on the 30th Anniversary DVD edition of A Night at the Opera.[77][78]

A version of "God Save the Queen" by Madness features the melody of the song played on kazoos. It was included on the compilation album The Business – the Definitive Singles Collection.[79]

Composer Steve Ouimette recorded a rock version as Downloadable content for the video game Guitar Hero 5.[80]


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  2. ^ "Isle of Man". nationalanthems.info. http://www.nationalanthems.info/im.htm. Retrieved 17 August 2010. 
  3. ^ cf. the versions in the hymn books English Hymnal, Hymns Ancient and Modern and Songs of Praise and the version at the website royalty.gov.uk.
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  29. ^ "The history of God Save the King": The Gentleman's Magazine, Vol 6 (new series), 1837, p.373. "There is an additional verse... though being of temporary application only, it was but short-lived...[but]...it was stored in the memory of an old friend of my own... 'Oh! grant that Marshal Wade... etc.'
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  33. ^ See: text at project Gutenberg and at Fullbooks.com)
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External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • God Save The Queen —  Cet article concerne l hymne national. Pour la chanson des Sex Pistols, voir God Save the Queen (chanson des Sex Pistols). God save the Queen (en) Que Dieu protè …   Wikipédia en Français

  • God save the Queen —  Cet article concerne l hymne national. Pour la chanson des Sex Pistols, voir God Save the Queen (chanson des Sex Pistols). God save the Queen (en) Que Dieu protè …   Wikipédia en Français

  • God save the queen —  Cet article concerne l hymne national. Pour la chanson des Sex Pistols, voir God Save the Queen (chanson des Sex Pistols). God save the Queen (en) Que Dieu protè …   Wikipédia en Français

  • God Save The Queen — („Gott schütze die Königin!“) bzw. God Save the King („Gott schütze den König!“) ist seit Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts die Nationalhymne des Vereinigten Königreichs von Großbritannien und Nordirland, weiterhin ist sie eine der zwei Nationalhymnen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • God save the Queen — („Gott schütze die Königin!“) bzw. God Save the King („Gott schütze den König!“) ist seit Anfang des 19. Jahrhunderts die Nationalhymne des Vereinigten Königreichs von Großbritannien und Nordirland, weiterhin ist sie eine der zwei Nationalhymnen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • God Save the Queen — the British national anthem. It is not known who wrote the words or the music, but it was already a traditional song in the 18th century. The song has several verses, but usually only the first verse is sung: God save our gracious Queen, Long… …   Universalium

  • God Save the Queen — UK US the UK’s national anthem (=official national song) http://www.macmillandictionary.com/med2cd/weblinks/god save the queen.htm Thesaurus: specific songshyponym …   Useful english dictionary

  • God Save the Queen — the ↑national anthem (=the official national song) of the UK. The title of the song changes to God Save the King when the ↑monarch is a king …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • God Save the Queen — (Dios Salve a la Reina) es una canción patriótica del Reino Unido cuyo autor es desconocido. Ha sido tradicionalmente usada como himno nacional por el Reino Unido y sus colonias; y el himno real de la Familia Real Británica y de los demás países… …   Enciclopedia Universal

  • God Save the Queen — ► God Save the Queen (or King) the British national anthem. Main Entry: ↑God …   English terms dictionary

  • God Save the Queen — God ,Save the Queen the U.K. s NATIONAL ANTHEM (=official national song) …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

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