Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Bring back those golden oldies...

Senator Vivienne Poy will be visiting our library system for Asian Heritage Month, the annual observance of the history and cultural contributions of Asian-Canadians to our country. Poy, as Senator, introduced the Senate motion for the federal government to recognize this event.

One of Senator Poy's goals is to amend the words to the national anthem, changing the line "True patriot love in all thy sons command" to the more gender-inclusive "True patriot love in all of us command". She produced as support for this measure, a recently-unearthed copy of Robert Stanley Weir's original 1908 English lyrics, where the line is question was rendered as "True patriot love thou dost in us command". (Weir revised the lyrics three times after writing these--one of the later versions is the official anthem.)

Reading over the original lyrics, I'd actually be in favour of instituting them as the official English language lyrics, since they are actually fully inclusive. Poy's change would leave the reference to God in the anthem (incidently, this never appeared in any incarnation of Weir's lyrics, but was added by the National Anthem Act of 1980), excluding the 16%+ of Canadians who are non-religious, not to mention polytheists, some Buddhists, and the like. The one potential stumbing block would be the line "May stalwart sons and gentle maidens rise", but that's in the third verse, so we could just omit it from the official anthem (the rest of that verse doesn't add anything not already said in the second).

As an aside, the French lyrics (which were written earlier) have never changed since their authoring. The French lyrics make explicit references to Christianity and militarism ("Car ton bras sait porter l'épée, Il sait porter la croix!"), though most contemporary Quebecois have little passion for either.