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ICYMI: Canada's original national anthem was gender-neutral

Simran Singh Feb 02, 2018 2:43 pm 5,561

Earlier this week, it was officially announced that the lyrics to ‘O Canada’ were changed to make the anthem gender neutral.

Known as Bill C210, the act changes the traditional line of the anthem from “in all thy sons command,” to the more gender-neutral “in all of us command.”

This small edit to the anthem’s lyrics had a lot of people upset. And, naturally, they expressed their anger on social media:

Seems like this change is going to seriously confuse everyone singing our anthem at hockey games now because how on earth will we remember the lyrics?

But in all seriousness, everyone needs to relax because this is not the first time Canada’s anthem has been gender neutral.

The anthem has gone through several different changes. It was first created in 1880 after Lieutenant-Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille commissioned a judge named Adolphe-Basile Routhier to write a hymn to be performed for the National Congress of French Canadians, which was taking place during the same time as Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day celebrations.

After that, a number of changes were made to the lyrics and number of competitions were held to determine what the official anthem should sound like.

In 1908,  Robert Stanley Weir, a lawyer in Montreal, ended up creating the winning version of ‘O Canada.’

Here’s where it gets interesting. Weir’s original lyrics to the beginning of ‘O Canada’ were:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love thou dost in us command

Yes, you read that correctly. Back in 1908, the Canadian anthem was inclusive to everyone, way before the term “gender-neutral” was ever invented.

According to The New York Times, no one really knows why or how the lyrics changed from “True patriot love thou dost in us command” to “True patriot love in all thy sons command.” But happen it did, and somehow “sons” became part of our official anthem.

So, according to history, everyone getting super worked up about Canada’s “gender-neutral” anthem needs to know that it was originally like that anyway.

And in case you need a refresher, this is our new(ish) anthem:

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

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Simran Singh
Simran is a Staff Writer at Daily Hive. She enjoys writing about culture, society, and politics. In her spare time, she drinks too much coffee and listens to a lot of Beyoncé. Have a story idea? Email her: [email protected]

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