The French National Anthem
The other day I was just browsing through YouTube as one does when I found a short video by a rather entertaining linguist comic called Loic Suberville check out this video by clicking here on the French National anthem. “La Marseillais” not the orignal title it was orignally called Chant de guerre pour l’Armée du Rhin’ (War Song for the Rhine Army).
Written back towards the end of the 1700’s it became France’s national anthem for the first time in 1795. After a very bloody period in France’s history and world history to be fair. In case you needed a reminder the French Revolution (1789–1794) followed quickly on the heels of the American Revolution (1775–1783). One could argue that if France doesn’t get involved in the American Revolution then we don’t get the French Revolution but that is a debate for another time.
The French Revolution officially ended when King Louis the 15th met his end at the hands of Madame Guillotine in front of a roaring crowd on the 21st of January 1793, his wife Marie Antonette met the same fate nine months afterwards. By this time La Marseillaise was all but France’s national anthem and from the translation, you can see that it was very much of the time:
Arise, children of the Fatherland
Our day of glory has arrived
Against us the bloody flag of tyranny
is raised; the bloody flag is raised.
Do you hear, in the countryside
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They’re coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your comrades!
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions
Let’s march, let’s march
That their impure blood
Should water our fields.
It’s very much of the time a war chant calling for blood, in fact looking at the words of this incredibly rousing anthem as you see can why it was very much of the time. But that time thankfully has passed and France is at peace as is the rest of the world for the most part.
Looking at it today and if you compare the French National Anthem to that of other nations. It doesn’t speak of the glory of the nation or the beauty of their countryside. This is a massive shame as France is one of the most beautiful countries in the world. It’s a country that has given so much to world culture; art, music, literature, science, engineering, law, diplomacy and viticulture. Yet, their national anthem, the song that represents the country and its people at all major events be it diplomatic, sporting or other major events. It is a revolutionary battle hymn that calls for blood to water the fields of France it calls for war, for citizens (civilians in other words) to form ranks and kill. La Marseillaise is as rousing a song and I won’t deny that, but in my opinion, it doesn’t do France as a whole justice. After all that France and its people have given to the world, surely they deserve a hymn that properly reflects its culture, people and way of life. They are not a warfaring nation of sabre rattlers (at least not anymore), this is a nation of great thinkers, artists and creators.
Thinking of this I can’t help but think that is time for France to commission a new anthem one that represents the country’s culture and not one that speaks of fear and glorifies bloodshed. France has given so much to the world its time that its national anthem represents this. Anyway, let me know what you think on this subject is it a debate worthwhile having or am I just full of it you tell me?