Canadian National Anthem


O Canada !
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!

From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee


O Canada, terre de nos aieux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux.

Car ton bras sait porter lépée,
Il sait porter la croix.

Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

The History of the National Anthem


“O Canada” was proclaimed Canada s national anthem on July 1, 1980 , 100 years after it was first sung on June 24, 1880 . Calixa Lavallée, a well-known composer, composed the music; French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The song gained steadily in popularity. Many English versions have appeared over the years. Mr. Justice Robert Stanley Weir wrote the version on which the official English lyrics are based in 1908. The official English version includes changes recommended in 1968 by a Special Joint Committee of the Senate and House of Commons. The French lyrics remain unaltered.

Full History of “O Canada “

Many people think of Calixa Lavallée as an obscure music teacher who dashed off a patriotic song in a moment of inspiration. The truth is quite different. Lavallée was, in fact, known as ” Canada s national musician” and it was on this account that he was asked to compose the music for a poem written by Judge Adolphe-Basile Routhier.

The occasion was the “Congrès national des Canadiens-Français” in1880, which was being held at the same time as the St. Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations.

There had been some thought of holding a competition for a national hymn to have its first performance on St. Jean-Baptiste Day, June 24, but by January the committee in charge decided there was not enough time, so the Lieutenant Governor of Quebec, the Honorable Théodore Robitaille, commissioned Judge Routhier to write a hymn and Lavallée to compose the tune. Lavallée made a number of drafts before his musical friends greeted the tune we know with enthusiasm. It is said that in the excitement of success Lavallée rushed to show his music to the Lieutenant Governor without even stopping to sign the manuscript.

The first performance took place on June 24, 1880 at a banquet in the “Pavillon des Patineurs” in Quebec City as the climax of a”Mosaďque sur des airs populaires canadiens” arranged by Joseph Vézina, a prominent composer and bandmaster.

Although this first performance of “O Canada” with Routhiers French words was well received on the evening, it does not seem to have made a lasting impression at that time. Arthur Lavigne, a Quebec musician and music dealer, published it without copyright but there was no rush to reprint. Lavallées obit in 1891 doesnt mention it among his accomplishments, nor does a biography of Judge Routhier published in 1898. French Canada is represented in the 1887 edition of the University of Toronto songbook by “Vive la canadienne”, “A la claire fontaine” and “Un canadien errant”.

English Canada in general probably first heard “O Canada” when school children sang it when the Duke and Duchess of Cornwall (later King George V and Queen Mary) toured Canada in 1901. Five years later Whaley and Royce in Toronto published the music with the French text and a translation into English made by Dr. Thomas Bedford Richardson, a Toronto doctor. The Mendelssohn Choir used the Richardson lyrics in one of their performances about this time and Judge Routhier and the French press complimented the author.

Richardson version:

O Canada ! Our fathers land of old
Thy brow is crownd with leaves of red and gold.
Beneath the shade of the Holy Cross
Thy children own their birth
No stains thy glorious annals gloss
Since valour shield thy hearth.
Almighty God! On thee we call
Defend our rights, forfend this nations thrall,
Defend our rights, forfend this nations thrall.

In 1908 Colliers Weekly inaugurated its Canadian edition with a competition for an English text to Lavallées music. Mercy E. Powell McCulloch won it, but her version did not take.

McCulloch version:

O Canada ! In praise of thee we sing;
From echoing hills our anthems proudly ring.
With fertile plains and mountains grand
With lakes and rivers clear,
Eternal beauty, thos dost stand
Throughout the changing year.
Lord God of Hosts! We now implore
Bless our dear land this day and evermore,
Bless our dear land this day and evermore.

Since then many English versions have been written for “O Canada”. Poet Wilfred Campbell wrote one. So did Augustus Bridle, Toronto critic. Some were written for the 1908 tercentenary of Quebec City . One version became popular in British Columbia …

Buchan version:

O Canada, our heritage, our love
Thy worth we praise all other lands above.
From sea to see throughout their length
From Pole to borderland,
At Britains side, whateer betide
Unflinchingly well stand
With hearts we sing, “God save the King”,
Guide then one Empire wide, do we implore,
And prosper Canada from shore to shore.

However the version that gained the widest currency was made in 1908 by Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer and at the time Recorder of the City of Montréal . A slightly modified version of the 1908 poem was published in an official form for the Diamond Jubilee of Confederation in 1927, and has since been generally accepted in English speaking Canada . Following further minor amendments, the first verse of Weirs poem was proclaimed as Canada s national anthem in 1980. The version adopted pursuant to the National Anthem Act in 1980 reads as follows:

O Canada ! Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North, strong and free!
From far and wide, O Canada,
We stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.