The British national anthem is heard before the British play soccer. Patches of it can be heard in various movies and series. Everyone has heard some part of the British national anthem - God save the Queen. Interestingly, however, the origin of this song is very unclear. In fact, it is quite possible that the song did not originate in Great Britain, but in France!
The origins of the British national anthem
Although there are many ambiguities about the national anthem, a few things are certain. What is clear is that the British national anthem dates from the eighteenth century. However, it is quite possible that parts of other songs were used to create the national anthem, songs that are much older. The music of the national anthem was created before the lyrics. Who composed the music is also not entirely clear. However, it is usually attributed to one of these gentlemen: John Bull, Thomas Ravenscroft, Henry Purcell and Henry Carey. Henry Carey is the best known of these and is usually given credit for creating the music. Yet it is also very likely that the melody is a combination of several tunes composed together by these gentlemen.
The song is based on a French song dating back to 1686, "Grand Dieu Sauve Le Roi. This freely translated means 'God, save the king'. The title of the British national anthem therefore has more or less the same meaning: 'God, save the Queen'.
It is quite possible that there was an earlier version of the song written for King James II as early as the 17th century: 'God Save Great James Our King'. A later version was written for King George. Since there was a king on the throne at the time the British song was written, the original title was not 'God, Save the Queen', but 'God, Save the King'. The text was first published in the journal Thesaurus Musicus in 1744. In 1745 it was published in The Gentleman's Magazine. The text had been slightly modified by then. In 1745 the song was also performed for the first time in London.
Officially no anthem
Although the song is known worldwide as the British national anthem, it is not officially so. In fact, it has never been so designated by the British Parliament. Also, there is no version of the song that has been generally approved. Although it is not officially a national anthem, this is still the song you hear when the British play soccer, for example.
It is a tradition that is not bound by rules, and if there is anything that Britons as a rule appreciate, it is traditions. Think, for example, of going to the pub on weekends and patiently standing in line for anything and everything. By the way, the national anthem is only used by England itself. Scotland and Wales have their own anthems.
Other similar melodies
'God Save the Queen' has a melody that may seem familiar to you. Parts of the melody have been incorporated into other melodies. Beethoven, for example, used the tune in no less than seven variations in his music. Haydn and Brahms also used the tune for inspiration. Moreover, the music of the British unofficial national anthem has also been used by other countries as the basis for their national anthems. 'Oben am jungen Rhein', the anthem of Liechtenstein, uses the same melody. The American "My country 'Tis of Thee" also has the same tune.
Although The British National Anthem is not officially a national anthem, it has played a major role in the development of other national anthems and melodies composed by famous composers. It is therefore inextricably linked to the history of Britain.