I have long admired the New Zealand National Anthem, God Defend New Zealand. It pays immediate and historical homage to its native people with the Maori version always sung first, followed immediately by the English version. Both versions have had a long and honoured trajectory to National Anthem status (1977). The English poem was written prior to 1876, the music chosen in 1876, and the Maori version was written in 1878.
Apparently New Zealanders think that few New Zealanders know the words, but youtube footy footage might suggest otherwise.
What a powerful package!
O Flouer o Scotland, was written by Roy Williamson of the folk group the Corries, and presented in 1967, and refers to the victory of the Scots, led by Robert the Bruce, over England’s Edward II at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314. So this song is steeped in history, as well as being rooted in the contemporary. The Flower of Scotland (when will we see your like again), refers to those men of 1314 who fought and died, and todays finest of Scotland, too. The words acknowledge needing to leave the appalling losses of the past in the past…….”But we can aye rise nou, An be the naition again…..”
Sung at football openings, the crowd ALL seem to know the words, and to access and express the emotion – grief, anger, resilience, pride, of past and present singing their “anthem”.
Watching numbers of renditions of this anthem, it seems universally rousingly sung in the light Scots dialect, not plain English. Crowds will often call back after certain lines: after the words “and stood against him”, you may hear “(a)gainst who(m)”; and after the words “and sent him homewards”, you may hear “whit fur?” (“what for?”).
What a fantastic contribution by Roy Williamson who died tragically young from a brain tumour. He probably did not foresee what would happen to his folksong.
Politics and economics aside, in their heart of hearts, they are independent of England!
With sadness, I agree with Wikipedia about Australia’s National Anthem:
“Both the lyrics and melody of the official anthem have been criticised in some quarters as being dull and unendearing to the Australian people. A National Party senator, Sandy Macdonald, said in 2001 that “Advance Australia Fair” is so boring that the nation risks singing itself to sleep, with boring music and words impossible to understand. A parliamentary colleague, Peter Slipper, said that Australia should consider another anthem.”
Perhaps the next opportunity to get it right might be when Australia becomes a republic!