Jem Muharrem

Words on thought, art and music

Gove Save the Queen

Following on from Richard Lindfield’s public affairs lecture at Brighton Journalist Works about the functions of the monarchy (ahem) in which it turned out that nobody in the room knew any of the word to ‘God Save the Queen’ beyond the first verse, my curiosity was piqued as to what all of the words to our glorious national anthem really are.

And what should I find? Do please bring your full attention to the final stanza in the light of current goings-on way up in the chilly north. Discuss…

Lord grant that Marshal Wade
May by thy mighty aid
Victory bring
May he sedition hush
And like a torrent rush
Rebellious Scots to crush
God save the…..etc, etc

Maybe someone should tell Alex Salmond…

This was written circa 1745 as a prayer for the victory of Field Marshall George Wade’s anti-Jacobite army assembling at the time in Newcastle.

In an 1837 article from Gentlemen’s Magazine (what a name! would that this publication still exist…) the verse is presented thus; as an “additional verse… though being of temporary application only… stored in the memory of an old friend… who was born in the very year 1745, and was thus the associate of those who heard it first sung”.

The Jacobites bit  back with:

God bless the prince, I pray,
God bless the prince, I pray,
Charlie I mean;
That Scotland we may see
Freed from vile Presbyt’ry,
Both George and his Feckie,
Ever so, Amen.

Various other attempts were made during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries to add verses to commemorate particular royal or national events.

Here is one David Cameron may like to consider singing out next time he and Nicolas Sarkozy inevitably come to blows :

From France and Pretender
Great Britain defend her,
Foes let them fall;
From foreign slavery,
Priests and their knavery,
And Popish Reverie,
God save us all.

None of these verses have of course survived to the present of course.  The last change to be made was by King George V who asked that the line ‘Frustrate their popish tricks’ should be changed to ‘Frustrate their knavish tricks’. Here is the full stanza, in fact the true second verse to follow the famous first one we all know:

O Lord our God arise
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall
Confound their politics
Frustrate their knavish tricks
On Thee our hopes we fix
God save us all.

(It’s O.K to threaten people old bean, just not the Catholics any more…)

This mutability of the words of the national anthem, albeit in its own imperialistic and blinkered way, is a product of its time but it is also a curious and rather pregnant idea. The notion of “God Save the King” as a socio-political barometer makes me think that, instead of logging on to Twitter to vent, we should just turn to our beloved national anthem and unleash our inner poet.

So picture it, next time the English football team (not Scottish, Welsh or Northern Irish, no no no!) run out to play, we can all stand and proudly sing:

This time of austerity,

Doesn’t halt temerity

Of our MPs.

We’re not from Bullingdon,

No peerage for our sons,

No second home in Kensington, (all together now)

Gove save the Queen’s yacht.


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