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god save the queen—alternative lyrics

The second verse of the standard lyrics for God Save the Queen contain these words:

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.

Not surprisingly, from time-to-time some people both in and out of England have found this belligerent, chauvinistic verse offensive, and efforts to remove or moderate it have taken place.

Different kinds have also been raised against the standard lyrics. For example, some have thought that emphasis should be placed on saving and promoting the power of Parliament and the people rather than the monarchy. Some have objected to the notion that God's gifts should be poured on the Queen rather than on the English people. Still others have questioned whether appeals to God should be made to support the Queen's objectives or those of God. Of course, the presumption of this last objection is that God's objectives are in line with those of the British Empire.

Hickson lyrics

In 1836, William Hixton (today more popularly known as Hickson), a British educational writer, editor, philanthropist, and reformer, wrote a moderating four-verse alternative lyric for God Save the Queen which he intended as a remedy to some of these perceived shortfalls:

—play God Save the Queen—

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Lyrics to God Save the Queen

(Hixton version)

God bless our native land!
May heaven's protecting hand
Still guard our shore:
May peace her power extend,
Foe be transformed to friend,
And Britain's rights depend
On war no more.
O Lord, our monarch bless
With strength and righteousness:
Long may she reign:
Her heart inspire and move
With wisdom from above;
And in a nation's love
Her throne maintain
May just and righteous laws
Uphold the public cause,
And bless our isle:
Home of the brave and free,
Thou land of liberty,
We pray that still on thee
Kind heaven may smile.
Nor on this land alone,
But be God's mercies known
From shore to shore:
Lord make the nations see
That men should brothers be,
And form one family
The wide world o'er.

Today, the first, third, and fourth stanzas are appended to the National Anthem in the English Hymnal. By official edict of the United Kingdom government, the fourth verse of the Hickson lyrics was sung after the traditional first verse during the raising of the Union Jack during the closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Hickson also penned the immortal lines:

'Tis a lesson you should heed:
Try, try, try again.
If at first you don't succeed,
Try, try, try again.

Peace Version

A so-called peace version of God Save the Queen was approved in 1919 by the British Privy Council and published for the first time in 1925 in the hymn book titled Songs of Praise. Noting that the First World War ended in 1918, it is easy to see why a pacific version was welcome in England. The lyric below expresses the most fervent wishes of a bereft, tired, wounded, and suffering nation.

The first verse of the peace version is identical to the first verse of the standard version. The peace version lyric, like the standard version, has a total of three verses. There the similarity ends.

Notice that the third verse of the peace version ends with the lines Bid strife and hatred cease/Bid hope and joy increase/Spread universal peace/God save us all! Compare the lines that end the third verse of the peace version with the lines that end the third verse of the standard version: And ever give us cause/ To sing with heart and voice/ God save the Queen.

Lyrics to God Save the Queen

(Official Peace Version version)

God save our gracious Queen
Long live our noble Queen
God save the Queen!
Send her victorious
Happy and glorious
Long to reign over us
God save the Queen!
One realm of races four
Blest more and ever more
God save our land!
Home of the brave and free
Set in the silver sea
True nurse of chivalry
God save our land!
Of many a race and birth
From utmost ends of earth
God save us all!
Bid strife and hatred cease
Bid hope and joy increase
Spread universal peace
God save us all!

Approval by the British Privy Council gave this lyric official status. However, despite being reproduced in some other hymn books, the peace version is virtually unknown today.

Numerous other attempts have been made to replace or revise the standard lyrics; some have been successful at certain times, places, or occasions, while others, like the peace version, have passed into oblivion. These other attempts are not treated here because the two examples on this page are sufficient to illustrate the point.

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