The weird British national anthem

I am someone who thinks that patriotism is a silly and even dangerous concept, implying as it does that one’s own national tribe is somehow special and to be valued over all others. Hence I am also not a fan of the associated symbols of patriotism, such as flags and anthems.

The comic strip Get Fuzzy had a series on national anthems and ran three strips in sequence on a a particularly silly one and that is the British national anthem that captured what I feel about it. The lines “Send her victorious/ Happy and glorious” never fails to get a chuckle from me. I mean, really?

You can see the above strip here and then click on the next two days to see the full set on this topic.


  1. Sunday Afternoon says

    The lines:

    Send her victorious/ Happy and glorious

    did result in what I think is the best pun in the Asterix series. In Asterix the Gladiator one Roman legionary calls to another while knocking on a door in the circus:

    Open up, Sendervictorius, it’s me, Appianglorius!

  2. Rob Grigjanis says

    The tune is boring. The lyrics are no more chuckle-worthy than most anthems I know of (do you know the Sri Lankan anthem?), and lack the violent imagery or outright xenophobia of many. I much prefer the music of “La Marseillaise“, but the stuff about “impure blood”, etc is a bit much.

  3. says

    “Dog Save The Queen” has one redeeming quality, the same as “O Canada” and “Ode To Joy” (the EU’s anthem). They are all easy to sing, barely more than an octave in range and have few large jumps between notes, unlike the US’s garish and unsingable anthem.

    Lyrically, though, “O Canada” is abominable and embarrassing. Patriotism? Mythical beings? Our home ON Native land? No thanks. I won’t stand for it, figuratively, or literally. As we joke about ourselves, “Hockey Night In Canada” is our second national anthem.

  4. Rob Grigjanis says

    The lines “Send her victorious/ Happy and glorious” never fails to get a chuckle from me. I mean, really?

    I was a bit puzzled by that, probably because I’m so used to the words. Yes, it sounds odd in modern English, but it’s not modern English. I’ve long assumed that “send her victorious” is an archaic way of saying “grant her victory”.

  5. flex says

    A bit of doggerel from my youth… Sung to the tune of “God Save the King”
    King George he had a date,
    He stayed out very late,
    He was the King!

    He stayed out after four,
    Queen Mary paced the floor,
    She met him at the door…

    God Save The King!

    I have no idea how, as a youth growing up in rural Michigan, I ever learned that.

  6. Rob Grigjanis says

    flex @5:

    She met him at the door…
    God Save The King!

    Upon which King George broke into

    Abide with me, fast falls the eventide
    The darkness deepens Lord, with me abide
    When other helpers fail and comforts flee
    Help of the helpless, oh, abide with me

  7. Mano Singham says

    Sunday Afternoon @#1,

    Thanks for that Asterix pun. I loved it!

    I always admired the translators of the series who worked in so many English puns and other wordplay jokes while translating from the French, since puns are so language-specific.

  8. mastmaker says

    The famous victoria era porn magazine “The Pearl” was probably (my speculation) shut down due to them publishing a parody of “God Save the Queen” where the title had “the” removed and the ‘C’ word appended in the end: (as in “God Save Queen C$%^). That was their last issue! Searching for that term will lead you to the entire parody anthem in all its glory.

  9. Silentbob says

    But seriously,

    Little known is the official 2nd verse:

    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.

    Rarely sung, for some reason.

  10. Silentbob says

    From the 3rd strip:

    I think she’s Scottish.

    Er no

    In 1901, the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha (a branch of the House of Wettin) succeeded the House of Hanover to the British monarchy with the accession of King Edward VII, son of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. In 1917, the name of the royal house was changed from the anglicised German Saxe-Coburg and Gotha to the English Windsor because of anti-German sentiment in the United Kingdom during World War I. There have been four British monarchs of the House of Windsor since then: George V, Edward VIII, George VI, and Elizabeth II.

    … but we don’t talk about that.

  11. Ridana says

    The entire anthem discussion begins on May 3 (with a Sunday strip thrown in midway). He wasn’t wrong about Japan’s anthem. 🙂 And it’s true that France’s is just mental. If it weren’t French I could easily see the Proud Babies and their ilk adopting it as their fight song. Imagine standing on the Olympic podium next to a French gold medalist and know they’re singing about watering their fields with impure blood, etc., etc. The comic even takes a swipe at the Olympic podium, though in a speculative way, rather than the actuality.

    I think he was being too hard on Italy’s anthem though. It’s got plenty of blood drinking and making Victory Rome’s slave, and being ready to die for Italy.

  12. Bruce says

    The comic strip speaks of the anthem of “England”, when they mean the UK of course. No problem.
    But technically, the United Kingdom was formed by union with Scotland, in practice after the death of Elizabeth I and the ascension of now James I. But legally, the UK was formed by the acts of union in 1706-7.
    In contrast, the words and tune first came together in1744-45, about 38 years later. Thus, it could be said that “England” never had its own anthem. Just silence. OK then. Let’s hear that at the olympics.

  13. cartomancer says

    Our British national anthem is pretty much the perfect example of what a national anthem should be -- droning, dull, anachronistic and unambitious. It is the aural equivalent of faded wallpaper, which is the whole point. There’s even a good bit of old-fashioned xenophobia in the verse about the Scots that we don’t sing anymore for pub quiz trivia enthusiasts.

    You don’t want rational, sensible people getting inspired or roused by these things. Standing up for the national anthem should, at best, be a tedious chore, and our anthem conveys that nicely. The sort of jingoistic, flag-waving people who make a point of it thus stand out well, and can be better avoided.

  14. Rob Grigjanis says

    cartomancer @14:

    There’s even a good bit of old-fashioned xenophobia in the verse about the Scots

    Since the Scottish verse is explicitly about the Jacobite rising (it asks God to help Marshal Wade, in vain as it turned out), it’s hardly fair to call it xenophobic.

  15. Holms says

    Many anthems can vie with one another for worst lyrics, but can any nation challenge Australia’s dominance in the field of Least Musical Anthem? The entire thing is one small step above doing scales in crotchets!

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