Thursday, March 4

Sing It Loud!

Whether you sing the anthem of your country to show patriotism, announce freedom through music (if you live in a free country), eulogize history, or document your country's struggle, it is your anthem and you love it.

Here in Canada we love our anthem and our maple leaf (not to mention the beaver, doughnuts, maple syrup, Bob and Doug McKenzie, CBC Radio, Tim Horton's, hosting the Olympics and eh!)  The thrown speech presented on Parliament Hill this week, sugested that we slightly alter our official  English Canadian Anthem. (Not great singing in this video but you can read the lyrics.)  The lyrics in the first verse state, 'in all our sons command' and the issue is gender neutrality in our mosaic landscape. 

Originally written in French in 1880, it was translated several times into English.  Like most direct translations, this version did not suite and new, unique English lyrics were written and 'O Canada' began to ring forth from the throats of our ancestors.  This version was sung as the unofficial anthem from 1939 - 1980, when  in 1980, it became our country's official patriotic song of freedom and love for our vast land.  Therefore it is technically only 30 years old and in the capacious span of human history, this is the size of the minute speck at the end of this sentence.  Time to change it up!  (see Wikipedia

Here are some potential options:
2.) The Rant

Look, its 2010, not 1956. Yes, I think lyrics, writing and language should be as gender neutral as possible.  Anything else is a slap in the face of the copious amounts of women and men who have striven to create a more beautiful, inclusive world.  Of course the lyrics to the anthem should be altered!  For years I have been singing:

...true patriot love in all of OUR command...

Not a huge change but important to me because I am a daughter, she, woman, her, female and it does make me feel more included if language is as gender neutral as possible.  I AM CANADIAN and we are a mosaic of people, not all XY chromosomed.  (As a side note, this point is a moot issue in the French verison as there is no gender reference in the French lyrics. Calling a chair in French 'une chaise' is a different conversation.)

Whether your country's anthem is an old church hymn changed multiple times due your country changing (State Anthem of the Russian Federation), describes the landscape of your country (Motherland - Mauritius), or a melody that comes from an old drinking song (Star Spangled Banner).  Sing it loud, sing it proud and ensure that it is inclusive!

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  1. I am worried about changing the anthem for a few reasons:

    First of all, if we change the anthem to accommodate people offended by the "son's command" line, we are going to have to take out all references to God as well. Also, I don't know how long the natives will let me call this my "home and native land". It's a slippery slope, this business of making everything neutral to all points of view.

    Second, I am not even really sure most people want to change the anthem, including women. Maybe I am totally oblivious or live in a strange bubble, but I've never even heard this complaint before in my life. Most woman I know don't want the anthem to change, and are not offended by this line. I would even venture to say that Canadian national pride could be at an all time high right now, due in large part to the number of times we heard the anthem and saw the flag rise at the Olympics. (And for the record, the Canadian women took the men to school in our own medal count)

    Third, I am disappointed that the government is going to form a committee to study the feasibility and impact of changing the anthem or not. You know that's going to cost way more than you could ever imagine. Let's say they spend $100,000 on this study. Is this really the biggest issue facing women in Canadian society? Couldn't this money be given to a women's shelter, a foundation that helps single mothers or pregnant teens, or encourages women to pursue education? Just doesn't seem like the best 100 grand ever spent (if not more, remember the gun registry?)

    Last of all, I would point out that the anthem does mention women, even though, unfortunately, we rarely have the change to sing the 3rd verse:

    O Canada! Beneath thy shining skies
    May stalwart sons, and gentle maidens rise,
    To keep thee steadfast through the years
    From East to Western sea.
    Our own beloved native land!
    Our True North, strong and free!

    Maybe once in a while we should sing that at a hockey game :)

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  3. I have a better response than the one I wrote yesterday. It is forming itself in my head and I will write it when it is complete. Thanks for sharing Brent! My fingers shall type again.