August 13, 2022

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God Save the Queen: When the English Borrow Their Anthem from the French

If the exact origin of these odes to the glory of British sovereignty is not unanimous, the most probable hypothesis must be sought on the side of French royalty.

Are the English, hidden great admirers of their neighbors across the Channel? As the archipelago’s cultural heritage derives its inspiration from French works, the question must be asked. After their own language, Half of that comes from FrenchTheir famous national anthem is now believed to be a simple translation of a work composed for Louis XIV in 1686.

At the time, the king suffered from a particularly painful anal fistula that led to serious complications. A surgical intervention is necessary to hope for a cure, but the king delays the deadline for fear of finding death there. However, after weeks of hesitation, surgery is imposed on him. A delicate moment, he finally survived despite suffering from a mild infection.

A Hymn to the Glory of Louis XIV

Relieved by the events that had transpired, Madame de Brinon, superior of the royal palace of Saint-Louis in Saint-Cyr, later decided to write a song thanking God for protecting the king.

The lyrics go like this: “Great God save the king / Long live our king! / Long live the king / Victory be his / Joy and glory / May he have happy reign / And favor of heaven! / Great God save the king / Great God avenge the king / Long live the king / Ever glorious / Victorious Louis sees his enemies forever subdued.

Accepted by the King of England

The text, set to music by the famous Italian composer Lulli, immediately impressed Louis XIV, and became very popular at Versailles. On the death of the Sun King, this triumph of royalty gradually fell into oblivion before being subjugated by George Frideric Handel, the English court composer. He translated the hymn before presenting it to the young crowned George II under the title “God Save the King”.

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There, too, the song became a huge hit, to the point of becoming the country’s unofficial anthem from 1745. A tradition that continues today is that the word “Queen” replaces “King” according to the sitter. the throne . These Brits have no shortage of air, turning one tribute after another into one of their world-renowned songs.