God Save the Queen (King)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article Share Article
views updated

God Save the Queen (King). The tune of the Brit. ‘National Anthem’ must long have been the best-known tune in the world, having at one time or another been borrowed by about 20 countries as that of their official nat. song. The popularity of the words and tune in Brit. seems to date from the time of the landing of the Young Pretender, 1745, when they were introduced in London th. and widely taken up, being sung on several successive nights at Drury Lane and Covent Garden theatres in Sept. of that year. The authorship of both words and tune is obscure, but it existed in some form before 18th cent.

The tune is in rhythm and style a galliard. There is a Geneva tune of this type with some phrases resembling those in God Save the Queen; it was introduced in 1603 at a banquet celebrating the first anniversary of the unsuccessful attempt of the Duke of Savoy to seize the city (the ‘Escalade’). An Eng. Christmas carol printed in 1611, Remember, O thou Man, shows similar resemblances. Much stronger resemblances are seen in a kbd. piece by John Bull (though in the minor), and his name is sometimes attached to the tune. The earliest known source is in a vol. of songs, Harmonia anglica, issued by John Simpson in London in 1744.

In the Amer. colonies and the USA the tune has at different times been sung to many different sets of words, e.g. God Save America, God Save George Washington, God Save the Thirteen States, etc. The present words My country, 'tis of Thee, date from 1831 and are the work of the Rev. Samuel Francis Smith. The name usually given to the tune is America.

Many composers, incl. Beethoven, Weber, Marschner, Paganini, Brahms, Donizetti, and Verdi have introduced the tune into their comps. or based works on it.