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We put together an arrangement of Britain’s National Anthem, “God Save the Queen” in honor of the passing of Queen Elizabeth II.
Becoming Queen at just age 25, Elizabeth II led a devout and dutiful life of service. She was served by 15 UK Prime Ministers during her tenure, beginning with Winston Churchill in 1952. Elizabeth was the first to celebrate a Platinum Jubilee, ruling for 70 years on the throne. That’s the longest reigning monarch in Britain’s history. The Queen loved Scottish country dancing. Every year, she hosted annual dances known as Ghillies’ Balls for staff and members of the local community. These were held at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, where she died peacefully on September 8, 2022.
God Save the Queen is, in practice, the national anthem of Great Britain but not by some royal decree, because it was adopted by the people and woven into the fabric of history. The origins of this song are widely disputed and the author is generally agreed to be unknown though some have their guesses. The lyrics were first published in a magazine in the 18th century but attributed to no one and musicologists have observed that the tune is reminiscent of a galliard, 16th century Renaissance music.
The phrase “God save the king” appears in the King James Bible and interestingly, this is how the song is sung depending on who is the reigning monarch, king or queen. Performances of this timeless classic similar to today’s version can be linked back to 1745 and theaters on Drury Lane—yes, that Drury Lane, right down from the muffin man, presumably. Throughout history, God Save the King/Queen, has been adopted as the royal anthem for over 20 commonwealths and territories, is the national anthem of many countries and is even the basis the American patriotic song, “My Country, ’Tis of Thee.” Countless composers have written and performed variations on this melody or married it into their own masterworks, Beethoven, Bach, Debussy, and Ives to name a few.
In the modern era, you can find Jimi Hendrix’s wailing electric guitar interpretations, the recording overdub magic from the rock band Queen and arguably the most famous riff on the classic by the UK punk band the Sex Pistols. The anthem was the first piece of music played on a computer, and the first computer music to be recorded. Now, here we are hundreds of years from when it was first published, presenting our colorful arrangement for you. Cheers and God save the Queen!
Learn more about the Queen with a fun video from “Fresberg Cartoon”