Monday, 6 March 2017

Our Song

The Grade 4/5's are learning about the true stories behind our national anthem, "O Canada."  They were shocked!

This is the person who wrote the melody for O Canada.  His name is Calixa Lavallee.  He was a composer but also an adventurer.  The story goes that while at his Quebec home in St. Hyacinthe to give a concert in 1880, he was resting by the Yamaska waterfall when he heard the song in the pounding water.  The melody swept throughout Canada and was played in music halls, theatres, churches, and various festivities, capturing the heart of many.

Adolphe-Basile Routhier

The French words of the song then came from Adolphe-Basile Routhier who wrote the words for a Quebec city festival in 1880.  The French lyrics have never been altered!

Robert Stanley Weir

There have been several versions of the English words altered throughout the years, but the one that has stuck the most was by a Montreal judge, Robert Stanley Weir, who wrote a poem in 1908 to commemorate the 300th year anniversary of Quebec City.  He wrote 3 additional verses and made some changes to the poem along the way.  His version of the English lyrics were sung up until 1980.

See the song sung below with words from Weir's poem.  This recording was from 1914!

In 1980, the 100th birthday of O Canada, there was yet again disagreement about the English words and they were altered yet again to what we sing today.  The song officially became Canada's anthem in 1980 through the National Anthem Act.

To read more about the history and changes, check out this link.

Throughout Canada's history, there has been various important songs of the people of the land.  Check out this compilation of the historical anthems of Canada and other countries and colonies that are now part of Canada. 

Another interesting tidbit about our anthem is that it has a very similar resemblance to the "March of the Priests" from the opera the Magic Flute, composed in 1791 by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart.

Check this out!

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