Thou dost jest, dostn’t thou?


The government tells us in the Speech from the Throne that it’s open to changing the line in the O Canada that goes “True patriot love in all thy sons command” back to the original “True patriot love thou dost in us command.”

Apparently, the thou-dost line was used from 1908 to 1914. There’s a fascinating history of the anthem here, which shows how often we’ve tinkered with the English lyrics. So I guess traditionalists among us can’t object to another change on grounds that this is sacrosanct poetry.

Still, I don’t like the notion of this reversion. It’s one thing to sing the word “thy,” the archaism of which we barely notice because we’re so used to it. But “thou dost,” I’m afraid, sounds like in belongs in Ye Olde Anthem. Worse, there’s an unpleasing siblilance in “dost in us.” It’s hissy.

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Thou dost jest, dostn’t thou?

  1. I've always thought that "in all of US command" is nicely gender-neutral. Now, how to get rid of "God keep our land"? Maybe "We'll keep our land…"

    • The first time I read your comment I thought you meant “in all of U(nited) S(tates) command” … glad I reread it before I sent my first reply!!!!!!!!

      • I didn't think he meant "us" until I read your comment here Leroy. Hmm..

  2. Aaaah! The wonderful glorious sunset-lit past was so much better than now. Let us all worship the year zero where we can start again fresh and steer the country correctly again towards a glorious and correct future.

  3. Leave the anthem alone. Good grief!

  4. For this they needed two months of recalibration? Tweaking the anthem!?

    What a freakin' joke this government is turning out to be.

    Virtually nothing of substance; no vision beyond the next election cycle; just recycled old platitudes from the past 4 years.


    • Recalibrating the anthem. They are recalibrating it.

  5. It's not like:

    1. The economy, taxation, revenue, distribution and the like require the government's attention.
    2. Climate change, pollution, green technology and a plan for the next decade would bear looking into.
    3. Gender pay equity, poverty, aboriginal issues and education should be priorities.
    4. A crumbling infrastructure and its replacement would be wise to examine and propose solutions.
    5. Research and development as in; long-term investments, medium term allocations and immediate investigation and action regarding Canada's nuclear program and others would benefit the nation now and into the future.
    6. It would be wise to examine and prepare for the demographic challenge that will face the nation when the baby-boomer generation begins to consume far more than we produce.
    6. And ad infinitum.

    Rather let this government dangle its key-chain before the infant nation by proposing to re-write the words to the national anthem, declare a 'Seniors Day' and pat themselves on the back for not rocking the boat hard enough over the last four years that they have already has their ass tossed overboard.

    And a pox on the opposition as well if they will not grasp the nettle nor force Harper to do so.

  6. So do they want to change the anthem 'cause we all knew the words at the Olympics?

    Or do they want to change it to "in all thy cons command"?

  7. Take God out, please. I'm a citizen, taxpayer and atheist. Why should I have to include the religious beliefs of others when I sing our anthem? It's my country too.

    • Because according to the preamble of the Constitution, "Whereas Canada is founded upon the principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law". Deal with it.

    • Thank You Ken: Finally somebody says what has to be said. I couldn’t agree more. Apparently about 20% or more of us don’t believe in religious superstitous nonsense- take all references to “god” out of our anthem, courts, and public spaces, and we get included in the anthem as well.
      And, regarding the anthem, for heavens sake get rid of “sons”, and change it to “all our hearts command”, (thus including the other 52% of the population) , change the “native” land as so many of us are not native (though I’m 5th gen) . By my way of thinking, excluding females and athiests, and the non native born, the current anthem represents about 12% of Canadians. Times have changed, the anthem is still mired in about 1917.

      The tune is fine, but the words are insipid. If ever there was an anthem writen by committee, this is it.
      Make it inclusive, gender neutral, and completely secular. Then you’ll include everyone. Thats what my Canada is about.

      hey- why not a Canada wide anthem contest? Complete with national TV (the CBC will have to do) have it hosted by Bill Shatner or some other ex pat, in a (extra large) beaver suit and sponsored by Tim Hortons., and subject to U.S. Free Trade laws. What could be more Canadian. First prize? Immortalization and an autographed 8X10 glossy of Rex Murphy.

      I suppose The Maple Leaf Forever and whupping French ass at Quebec is too much to hope for. Just kidding.

  8. Do you mind, Mr. Geddes, if I shamelessly crosspost from last week my new, improved version of our anthem, conceived right here chez Maclean? No religious reference, no archaic language, no pleonasm (!!) — and it means the same thing in English and French!

    O Canada, our noble northern land
    True patriots all, for you we proudly stand;
    Like snow before the breath of spring
    The years will melt away,
    But we remain, O Canada,
    And stand on guard today.
    Forever free, both young and grey,
    O Canada we stand on guard today.
    O Canada we stand on guard today.

    O Canada, auguste terrain du nord,
    Nous nous levons, fidèles jusqu'à la mort,
    La vie se passe comme la neige
    Se fond en plein printemps
    Mais nous restons, O Canada,
    Pour toi si vigilants
    En liberté, agé(e)s, enfants,
    O Canada pour toi si vigilants
    O Canada pour toi si vigilants.

    Bilingual (following same pattern of English – French – English now in use)
    O Canada, our noble northern land
    True patriots all, for you we proudly stand;
    La vie se passe comme la neige
    Se fond en plein printemps
    Mais nous restons, O Canada,
    Pour toi si vigilants
    Forever free, both young and grey,
    O Canada we stand on guard today.
    O Canada we stand on guard today.

    • Only one thumbs up from me, I'm afraid.

      Alas, that's all I can give.

      • Thumbs up from me too!!

        • Ah, Jack, I knew you could do it!

          The only part I'm less than thrilled with is – both young and grey, but no lyic is perfect.

          Well done!

          • Thanks, guys!

            I concur, Diane, "both young and grey" needs improvement. Can you think of something that rhymes with "day" and is related to the idea of youth/age or freedom (and that isn't "away")? Unless you think it's a mistake to have the youth/age idea in there at all? My thought was that having multiple generations singing the song together both contrasted with the eternity of Canada and, more importantly, is a form of unity that doesn't evoke controversial dichotomies like French/English, East/West, Immigrant/Non-immigrant, etc. But of course everything is up for grabs, and I appreciate the input!

    • Nicely done, but I'd vous-vois, rather than tu-tois, the country: "Pour VOUS si vigilants "

      • Interesting thought! I will definitely look into it; I thought I remembered something about God and Country being tu-toi'd, but I may be wrong — if so, yes, let's vous-vois the country!

  9. I generally sing "We'll keep our land glorious and free."
    But there has to be something a lot less clunky than thou dost in us command.
    maybe "True patriot love in all of our command."

    • Refer to the first post, the one from Martin.

  10. If this is the best they've got to offer 21st century women, I'm praying for an election. Harper, your pandering has sunk to a new, but entirely pathetic, low.

  11. "Sons" is offensive?

    Well, we better not stop there. Better remove "God" as that offends atheists. Better remove "our home and native land" as "native" might offend those who have immigrated here. Better remove "stand on guard" too as it could be seen as being too militaristic.

    You know what, to be truly safe, we should make the anthem instrumental only and we can just hum the words.

    Or, we can acknowledge this argument as the slippery slope as it is, and realize that our anthem is what it is, and that when it was played a record 14 times over the past two weeks at the Olympics, I don't recall seeing anyone in the crowd cringe when the word "sons" was sung.

    • Yes, let us make all our decisions based on logical fallicies such as the slippery slope.

    • You might want to reread Geddes' post….

  12. Why exactly does anyone want to change it? If there's a good reason then go for it….but I suspect this is the usual silly business about masculine nouns lacking sufficient gender inclusion.

    In which case, leave the words as is if only to annoy the hell out of the PC police.

    • You know, these "PC Police" only exist in the fevered imaginings of your ilk.

      (Wanna know something else? Nobody is trying to kill Christmas either ;)

      • My ilk actually get a nice warm glow every time we watch the reaction of your ilk to the "God keep our land" line in the anthem. Makes us love it just that much more.

        • Fair enough. "Mass Hysteria keep our land " just doesn't work, at last in the time signature.

        • Now why would a practicing Catholic have a problem with that line you quoted?

          (I'll leave aside the fact that you just admitted that using God to make others feel unwanted gives you a charge for another day)

          • No dispute here that the Catholic Church in Canada is a car accident playing out in slow motion.

          • It's always nice to remember that you're as unpleasant and hostile to Catholics as you are to non-Catholics. I commend your even-handedness.

  13. When conservatives try to co-opt the postures of moderates and progressives they just look silly. Like when George Bush brought out the "Blaming the Victim" bit when people hinted US foreign policy might have played a role in 9/11. (heck, even when Martin said he would remove s. 33 from the Charter). It's like they're thinking "boy, I just can't figure out women/gays/jews/blacks/asians/wiccans. This is the kind of thing they like, right?"

    • It must confuse you to no end when you encounter a lesbian black/asian wiccan conservative.

  14. It's a distraction from the emptiness of the speech. It's supposed to make everyone go crazy with slippery slope arguments. And it's working.

  15. We have a government made of Flubber: bend, stretch, ooze, bounce, take on nearly any appearance to suit the circumstance but remain fundamentally insubstantial.

  16. "The government tells us in the Speech from the Throne that it's open to changing the line in the O Canada that goes “True patriot love in all thy sons command” back to the original ”True patriot love thou dost in us command.”

    And these guys actually have the nerve to accuse liberals of pandering and social engineering!

    • Yes that's right, reverting to an older lyric in the national anthem is the same as remaking society along entirely new lines.
      Good one.

      • Gotta admit, kcm, even I think you're reaching on that one…

        • hmm, i see your point…little bit over the top. But the pandering stays. It's the sort of thing Harper would have blown a gasket over…back in the days when he stood for anything.

          • For once I agree with you (at least about the pandering part). I would usually expect stupidity like this from the activist left.

          • Unless a wedge to devide the liberals from their women…seriously, this is the last thing i would have expected from Harper…but he is the grand chess master…at least in his own mind. Does he really believe he can enbarass Ignatieff over this? It's laughable really!

  17. I can't believe Harper is catering to the "left wing fringe groups" that he derided in his famous taped speech in September.

  18. Why the hell would we change the words of our national anthem to assuage a relatively tiny number of twits?

    • Because…..wait for it…….the Liberals changed the words in the early 80's.

      So why is it happening….well, that I saw a woman's rights activist on CTV yesterday, saying it was a good thing is probably the first hint. However, this lady wouldnt vote conservative even if they made the country a matriarchy, so I don't think the plan will work.

      • Dost thou have a link to the change that the Liberals made?

    • is there even any evidence the twits exist CR? I have never seen any reporting anywhere that suggest they exist or that they have a platform.

      • Not that I'm aware of.

  19. For the record, if they do go and change the lyrics, there are a lot of us who will ignore it.

    Bars filled with glowing hearts (standing on guard) across our native land far and wide will continue to ring with "true patriot love in all thy sons command" and the fervent prayer that "God keep our land glorious and free". The pansies in Parliament can take a flying leap.

  20. Does this mean we should start spelling Girono as Gynorno

  21. What hogwosh! I AM CANADIAN, I AM WOMAN, I am HAPPY with the anthem the way it is. I am so sick of this free land feeling like they always have to be "politically correct" because of a few SQUAWKERS. We are the TRUE NORTH STRONG and FREE…Prove it and have some backbone. And for all you atheists out there get over it….GOD keep our land….I AM PROUD to have GOD as part of my HERITAGE and LIFE.

    • God speaks in a small, clear, still voice, don't ya know?

      • Job 37:2 Listen! Listen to the roar of his voice, to the rumbling that comes from his mouth

        • Might I suggest you then follow the advice presented then.. stop talking and listen.

          • I'm listening to the GREAT I AM, but I can still have a voice on this forum because I AM CANADIAN <3

    • Paula, in the following lines —

      O Canada, our home and native land,
      True patriot love in all thy sons command

      — what does the second line mean in your view? Not the significance or whatever, just the literal meaning. How would you put it into ordinary English?

      • It is in ordinary English so I don't think I need to explain what the second line means. Any true Canadian has an understanding of what it is to have patriotic love and respect for their Country. However, I will tell you that in my opinon "sons" represents all Canadian "citizens" whether man or woman. Perhaps I can break it down in simpler terms the word "actor" represents male or female. (one who acts regardless of their sex)….

      • It is in ordinary English so I don't think I need to explain what it means. Any true Canadian would understand what patriotic love for their Country is. However, the word "sons" in my opinion represents all Canadian "citizens" (both male & female) In more simpler terms it's like the word "actor" (someone who performs theatrically regardless of their sex).

        • It means "Command true patriot love in all thy sons," in the sense of "X commands respect." That's ordinary English? You didn't even know what it meant!

          The problem with the anthem is not the genderedness or religiosity of the lyrics, it's that nobody understands WTF it means.

          • Thanks for claifying what I already knew (even though you think I didn't) …and that is why I didn't need to explain it :D

          • Yeah, you knew all about it. Here's another one: what does "God keep our land" mean? What mood is the verb in? What does that signify? Can you rephrase it in ordinary English?

    • "Methinks thou dost protest too much."

      • Perhaps I am protesting too much in your opinion, but we live in a free country and methinks I am NOT protesting as much as thou thinkest that I am :)

  22. I can see it now … some genius in the PMO said, "We gotta have something to distract them from the issues we're trying to dodge. I know! change the anthem – that'll keep them arguing for months." Truly genius. This was the reason for prorogation, to give them time to think up the one brilliant idea to make Afghanistan, the economy, the subversion of democracy by the PMO, parliamentary committees … everything, fade into insignificance. Well done people, we all seem to be falling for it.

  23. Are the first 2 lines of the anthem a declaration that Canada has our (patriots') true love or are they a request/order to Canada to get/command our love from us? Reference to the next lines would suggest that it is the former – a declaration that Canada already HAS/commands our true patriot love. So, what we now sing actually does not fit – grammatically, that is. Therefore, aside from questions of gender, let us return the anthem to what it was and should be – a declaration that Canada does/doth inspire/have/command our love. After all, if Canada does do so, why not say it or better yet, sing it?

    • The syntax is the vocative "O Canada, command true patriot love in all thy sons". The word order is changed by poetic licence to make the rhythm and the rhymes work out. There is no other interpretation possible without inferring words that the poet did not write, e.g. [There is] True patriot love in all [that] thy sons command. It is NOT the "sons" commanding, it is an invocation that Canada should engender true patriot love in all her children. Clearly, it is beyond the capacity of many or most Canadians with a modern education to decipher this, and it is, perhaps, time to change the words altogether to something that most people can comprehend. It WOULD be possible to just substitute "all of us" for "all thy sons" without changing the existing syntax, however.

  24. I still sing the pre-1980 version – no 'god' (whoatever that is) and no 'from far and wide'.

  25. "True patriot love in all of us command" is a much better change than a reversion to the original, now archaic, "… thou dost in us command." Hope the folks at Canadian Heritage agree, too!

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