Friday, February 02, 2018

"In All of Us Command" - The Revert of the Canadian National Anthem

Nearly eights ago, I talked about changing a line in the Canadian national anthem.  You can see the post here.  I was against the idea because I saw no point.  As well I thought Stephen Harper was wasting taxpayers money studying the idea.  According to some research, I mistakenly attributed it to Harper, but it was then Governor General Michaëlle Jean who announced a plan in her speech from the throne to have Parliament review the “original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem.”

While doing some research, I found out that the original French version has always remained gender neutral.  It was written and released over 130 years ago in 1880 by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier and and composer Calixa Lavallée and originally entitled "Chant National."  Even the versions by Thomas B. Richardson, Mercy E. Powell McCulloch; Wilfred Campbell, Augustus Bridle, and Ewing Buchan; Robert Stanley Weir, and the other versions written were all gender-neutral.

The version by Weir; a lawyer, recorder, and later a judge wrote his version in 1908.  It was written to commemorate the 300th anniversary of Quebec City.  In 1913, 1914, and 1916; changes were made to the song.  Nobody knows why it was changed to a non-gender neutral version as there is no evidence.  I came across an editorial published on National Post's website in 2016 and penned by Robert Cushman.  You can see it here.  Cushman breaks down the "in all thy sons command" line of the anthem.  He theorizes that Weir made the revision to be with the times.

Thinking about it, why would you need to change it?  Theories aside, was there a point to doing so?  We'll never know as again, there is no evidence to why the change was made.

Even though Weir's version became the official anthem in 1980 as it was widely sung as the main anthem.  After 1939, it became one of the two defacto anthems alongside "God Save the Queen."  It was done so because it was sung in French Canada and the music was heard everywhere else that was English in Canada.

Why has it taken over 110 years to change it back?  But why did it take at 35-40 years for discussion on the discriminatory aspects to start taking place?  According to what I've researched, this discussion came about in the 1950s.  Basically we've had this discussion for at least 60 years.

When Jean announced the review on March 3rd, the public sentiment, myself included, was strongly against changing it back, that two days later they dropped it.  Ironically, my post was two days later.  My ignorance attributed the proposed review to Harper.  I usually try to be thorough and correct with my information.  But even I have moments of slipping up.  Looking back, I feel bad for her.

It has been said that things can change over time.  It is true as I'm okay with the change.  Reverting back to the original words is not such a bad thing.  People have been trying for decades to get it changed back.  Many politicians have tried to introduce similar bills in the past with no such luck.  But with a lot of things, people complain.  Senator Denise Batters is one of them.  Here is her tweet with said complaining.

Here is an awesome response to her that I couldn't have said better myself.

Why does there need to be any discussion?  If you actually look at the original words of any versions including Weir's unrevised original version, you'd know it is gender-neutral.  French Canada, Quebec specifically, is the butt of a lot jokes, but they got this right.  Yes, I again admit I was against changing it the last time it was brought up.  People can change their stance over time.  That's exactly what I did.  If you don't like that's it has been reverted back than too bad.

I get that it will take time to get used to as singing "in all thy sons command" is out of habit.  But if Weir's version that became the official anthem in 1980 wasn't revised than we wouldn't have had at least 60 years of discussions.  This post wouldn't exist.  But the fact is it was.

If you are bitching about parliamentary procedure not happening.  Get over it.  If you're bitching about the fact it's been reverted.  Get over it.  Think about this.  The gender-neutral versions were written during a time when laws were limiting for women.  Revising Weir's gender-neutral version to be gender-specific could be seen as a step back.  Reverting could be seen as the only way to continue to progress forward.

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