Social commentary

Why we need a new National Anthem – by Danny Kuhrt (aged 10)

union jackThis morning, like many other people, I went to a Remembrance service with my Scout group. At the end, they played the National Anthem.

“God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen”

Listening to the lyrics reminded me of what a bad song I think it is.  When I got home I read the full version on the internet and found out there are another four verses and all of which get more ridiculous.  Check this out:

“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 not that I don’t like the Queen, or that I want to be rude to her.  I just think it’s a bad song.  These are my reasons:

1-      Its old fashioned.  In the past, the King fought in wars and did tactics in battle so it made sense to want to stay alive to lead the nation.  But now in these times, things are different and the Royalty are not leading the army.  The Queen and her family are probably safer than anyone with her big house and guards.  Why are we singing for her to be saved?

2-      The National Anthem should be about our country not just one person.  It should be inspiring and uplifting, about all the good things our country’s done and what it has achieved.  I like history and our country has done some good things (and some bad things).  Many of our Kings and Queens have been pretty bad.  So why do we sing just about them – they are just one person out of millions.

3-      In the first verse, the Queen is mentioned 4 timesGod is only mentioned twice.  That means that our National Anthem is more about one woman than about a God who created the whole world.  The Queen might be important but she is just as important as anyone else in God’s eyes.

So I think we need a more modern National Anthem, which talks about our country rather than just one person.  And while we are at it, we could make the tune a bit happier too.  And I reckon the Queen would probably agree with me.

8 thoughts on “Why we need a new National Anthem – by Danny Kuhrt (aged 10)”

  1. i agree, Danny! although my Dad is not 100% convinced…. so your opinion is provoking debate in the Graham household! (ps: my dad wonders if you might like to write the alternative anthem)


    1. Looking at some of the other verses Danny, I think you have a point. They are a bit out of date, and jingoistic. I think that the hymn we sing at Remembrance Day(I vow to the my country) is quite good. It speaks of loyalty, sacrifice, and at the end of the perfect kingdom of God. As Tom said you might like to write something along those lines.


      1. Ridiculous. Joingoism is “patriotism in the form of aggressive foreign policy”; which the National Anthem is not.
        As for ‘I vow to thee my country’, despite its great tune, it reflects all the worst aspects of early 20thC imperial patritism.

        I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
        Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
        So ‘the service of my love’ is vowed, in toto, to ‘my country’: that means that no part may be given to God – who for a Christian must be loved above all things; nor for spouse or family; nor for other people. This is the sort of thing that Nazism or Stalinism demanded: is that what we want for Britain?

        The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
        Again, unquestioning: should we really say my country alone, and no questions asked, is what I love and will love alone?

        That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
        The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
        The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
        Well, this was written in the dreadful aftermath of WW1, and the need to rationalise and try to make some sense of the appalling slaughter. Do we really mean that we will sacrifice everything for country – will they nil they? Christian theology allows only willing sacrifice of self: this talks about sacrifice others, since no love other than that of country is envisaged. This is absolutely appalling; I for one will not sing this.

        The second verse gives a sort of sub-christian gloss, but reduces all other faith, and the Gospel, to a sort of nursery fairy-tale
        “And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago”
        Of course love of God cannot enter into it, nor love of our fellow humans which might lead to actions to, say reduce poverty or hunger, because
        I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
        Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
        so there’s nothing left for anything so namby-pamby.

        This is absolutely appalling; I for one will not sing this.


  2. I also agree with you that our National Anthem can sound rather dull. It does depend on the way it is played. The version that is used for F1 is particularly lifeless. Whereas Brian May playing on the roof of Buckingham Palace was much better! The Queen is a figurehead and so that is why she is mentioned so much – symbolising our commitment in working together. Also she is such a good role model having dedicated her life to serve her country in a job that must be very difficult at times, and particularly now when you realise how old she is. I do believe it is good to live in a monarchy – I cannot think of anyone I would like to be our President.

    It is not easy to write words about what you have achieved without sounding boastful. You might be interested to look up translations of other anthems like La Marseillaise, Das Deutschland, Il Canto degli Italiani. The Italian anthem has a jolly tune, but one strength of our national anthem is that is short.

    Of course, the next problem is finding a better song. You only have to consider how we have struggled even to have a winner for Eurovision in recent years. God save the Queen can be very moving on big occasions. Like Tom’s Dad says, have a go at writing an anthem. You never know, we might all be singing it one day.


  3. Taking your points in reverse order:

    3. The only reasonable defence I can make is that for every occasion I hear the national anthem, I know the Queen must have listened to it 10 times on state visits. So she gets more mentions.

    2. Agree!…alas the only example I can think of Britain coming even _remotely_ close to admiring a song in unison (let alone an anthem summing up the British character) is “Goodbye England’s Rose (Candle in the Wind)”.

    1. … Which highlights that the current national anthem does have a quality which all British tend to begrudgingly accept settles all arguments over style and taste: it’s old, very old, (it’s been around since the 1700’s), but that doesn’t necessarily make it old fashioned. In fact, I’d say it’s reassuringly old.

    (Personally I put it in the same box as things like “Wouldn’t it look more important if we change number 10 Downing St to number 1?” and “Wouldn’t a grid layout system make most town centres work better?”. Maybe true, but you’d destroy something of the British character itself – replacing tradition with modern pragmatism – in the very process of trying to save it)


  4. I’m with you on this: the British Anthem is terrible.

    I had a quick look at the anthem of Germany, where I now live. I think that one is pretty good as a starting point:

    Unity and justice and freedom
    For the German fatherland!
    For these let us all strive
    Brotherly with heart and hand!
    Unity and justice and freedom
    Are the pledge of fortune;
    |: Flourish in this fortune’s blessing,
    Flourish, German fatherland! 😐

    I realise it doesn’t mention God, but nonetheless it seems to be more about people and justice and working together. There were two other verses that are no longer used, the first one was deemed too nationalistic, although compared to the British one it seems mild…

    By the way one pastor once responded to the national anthem: “Well, it asks God to save the Queen, and I reckon that’d be a good thing…”


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