Sunday, July 1, 2012

Canada: Glorious and free without God

Today is Canada day, and on this day my thoughts turn towards a relatively recent campaign by the religious advertising that God should be kept in our national anthem. Some people mistakenly believe that God has always been in our national anthem, and should be kept there in honour of our tradition.

The lyrics for the English version of O Canada were penned by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908, in honour of Quebec City's 300th anniversary. The original anthem did not contain any mention of God, and the lyrics are as follows:

O Canada! Our home and native land
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise
The True North strong and free!
And stand on guard, O Canada
We stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, glorious and free,
We stand on guard, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee!
 Mr. Weir was an intelligent, accomplished man, and I do not believe he omitted God from the national anthem by accident. He knew very well that it is we the people who must stand on guard to keep Canada glorious and free, and he was probably aware of the cultural diversity that is Canada and singing praise to God in the anthem would alienate cultures with different beliefs. Intelligent people tend to be aware that not everybody on earth worships God; that there are also polytheists, those who prefer the term Goddess, Allah, and then there are religions like Buddhism which doesn't involve praising any god. Then there are atheists. Leaving God out of our national anthem demonstrated a great deal of forward thinking for a man of 1908 in recognizing the broad cultural diversity that has become Canada.

As a tribute, I created this video of our original anthem, as it should have been, as sung by Edward Johnson:
This is the national anthem I recognize, so when other people are singing, "God keep our land glorious and free," I proudly belt out, "OH CANADA! GLORIOUS AND FREE!"