Song Story: God Save the King (Queen)

Yesterday, a new British monarch was crowned in Westminster Abbey. A historic event for anymore under the age of seventy, who had never known another ruler before the death of Queen Elizabeth II in September 2022.

So, in memory of the late queen and honor of the new king, let’s take a look at the British National Anthem “God Save the King” (or Queen).

The leader of the band at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, arranged “God Save the King” for a performance after a play in September 1745.  Shortly before then the “Young Pretender” (Prince Charles Edward Stuart) defeated the army of King George II which inspired the patriotic fervour and arrangement.

The arrangement resignated with the audience and was repeated nightly. The practice soon spread to other theatres and quickly became a custom to greet the monarch when he or she entered a place of public entertainment.

The words used today are the same as those sung in 1745 (only substituting Queen for King when appropriate.)

While other verses of the song do exists, they are rarely used.

The tune has been widely used in other countries and by around 140 composers–including Beethoven.  In the United States, the Patriotic hymn “America (My Country ‘Tis of Thee)” has married the words to the tune.

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