Following years of lobbying, the Senate of Canada has voted to make our national anthem gender-neutral. While opposed by some Conservative members of the chamber and doubtlessly by a large number of Canadians, the change is actually a return to the original anthem written in 1908.
That version read:
Our home, our native land
True patriot love thou dost in us command.
We see thee rising fair, dear land,
The True North strong and free;
And stand on guard,
We stand on guard for thee.
The official version Canadians sang, until yesterday, was completed in 1926, just before the death of Robert Stanley Weir. The author of the 1908 version, Weir twice added parts to the anthem in the 18 years in between, changing “thou dost in us command” to “in all thy sons command” in 1913, when Canada faced the prospect of sending its young men off to war. And he added the verse “God keep our land glorious and free!” shortly before his death in 1926.
As Senator Vivienne Poy remarked in a 2002 speech in the Senate, “Someone was reported in the media to have compared the Honourable Robert Stanley Weir’s 1908 version of O Canada! to Shakespeare, saying it should not be changed. I agree that the 1908 version of O Canada! should never have been changed.”
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