I recently came across someone lamenting that perhaps Canada’s immigrants might take God out of the national anthem, “O Canada”.
I was annoyed with this, largely because the O Canada I knew in grade school in the seventies never once mentioned God. Indeed it was not until 1980, that Pierre Trudeau forced us all to say God in the first verse of O Canada, something I objected to, but was only willing to protest by singing “O China”.
Actually myself and classmates had been singing O China before the word change but it was close.
the O Canada I knew in grade school in the seventies never once mentioned God
I was surprised to find that the 1927 version of O Canada, that was expected to be performed in school and public events, had 4 verses. I had only ever heard the first which didn’t have God in it. The three verses are what you might expect of a song honouring a country. Only the fourth verse mentions God. This is odd and seems tacked on given the first three verses.
So I went back to the 1908 version, the first lyrics written by Robert Stanley Weir. There are only three verses in these original lyrics. There is not one mention of God.
Weir should have stuck to his guns and kept God out
It is my opinion that Weir should have stuck to his guns and kept God out of his official lyrics.
I heard years ago that 15% of North Americans are athiest. I wouldn’t be surprised if this number is roughly static and that there are always fifteen percent athiests in all religious countries. There is a debatable number of agnostics who neither believe in God and others or don’t. The original settlers of this land are the indigenous people who weren’t originally Christian. There were also the slaves (Yes Canada had slavery it just ended before the American kind) who originally were not Christian when they were forced out of their African homes.
God was never a uniting symbol of all the peoples of Canada. I’m glad Weir’s original lyrics kept God out of it. I am just sorry that Christianity badgered Weir so much that God eventually made appearances in his song. From unity to meh.
And Weir never wrote the music. That was written decades before by the the French and has its own meanings.
From unity to meh.
I hope enough immigrants will allow us to turn O Canada back to the religously agnostic words it began with. Then the song can truly unite Canada again.