God Save The King lyrics - our new national anthem and rarely heard second verse
A powerful rendition of God Save The King was sung at the Queen's funeral today - but not many people actually know all of the lyrics. The origins of the UK’s National Anthem are somewhat obscure, because it's been around for nearly 300 years.
The God Save The King was a patriotic song first publicly performed in London in 1745 - and came to be known as the National Anthem at the beginning of the nineteenth century. In September 1745, the 'Young Pretender' to the British Throne, Prince Charles Edward Stuart, defeated the army of King George II at Prestonpans, near Edinburgh.
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In a fit of patriotic fervour after news of Prestonpans had reached London, the leader of the band at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, arranged 'God Save The King' for performance after a play.
It was a tremendous success and was repeated nightly, with the practise soon spreading to other theatres, and the custom of greeting monarchs with the song as he or she entered a place of public entertainment was established.
There is no authorised version of the National Anthem as the words are a matter of tradition, with additional verses having been added down the years.
The words used today are those sung in 1745, substituting 'Queen' for 'King' where appropriate, but only the the first verse is usually sung at official occasions.
In total, around 140 composers, including Beethoven, Haydn and Brahms, have used the tune in their compositions.
The British tune has been used in other countries, as European visitors to Britain in the eighteenth century noticed the advantage of a country possessing such a recognised musical symbol.
As well as the UK, a number of other Commonwealth countries and Crown dependencies also use God Save The King as either a national or royal anthem.
It's one of New Zealand’s two national anthems alongside God Defend New Zealand - and is played in the presence of the monarch in Australia, Canada, Belize, Antigua and Barbuda and The Bahamas.
The standard version of God Save The Queen is as follows (with the title changing from ‘Queen’ to ‘King’ when a male monarch sits on the throne, and vice versa):
Long to reign over us:
On him be pleased to pour,
May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
There are various alternative versions of the anthem, including one particularly controversial verse which enjoyed some short-term popularity around the time of the Scottish Jacobite rebellion in 1745.
This verse is believed to have fallen out of use - for obvious reasons - soon after the 1745 rebellion.
It has not been used since God Save The King was widely accepted as the British national anthem in the 1780s and 1790s.
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