Re-writing the National Anthem

It is said that we know our best friends chiefly by their small defects, rather than by their perfections. It is so with our national Anthem. It’s rhyme and metre are not faultless: it expresses our loyal sentiments in quaint language, and it is certainly not good poetry. But we love it all the more for its queer rhymes, indeed hardly notice them in the fervour of our singing.

Here are two of the verses which were written for a thanksgiving service after the Coronation of Queen Victoria:

Lord, thy best blessing shed
On our Queen’s youthful head;
Round her abide:
Teach her thy holy will, Shield her from every ill,
Guard, guide and speed her still
Safe to thy side.

Grant her, o Lord to be
Wise, just and good like Thee,
Blessings and blest.
With every virtue crowned,
Honoured by nations round,
Midst earthly monarchs found
Greatest and best.

The following verse was the winner of a newspaper competition, for a new verse of the National Anthem:

Not for these isles alone
Endures thine ancient throne
God save the Queen.
In lands across the sea
Proud nation, brave and free,
One world-wide family
Acclaim our Queen.

There was an ‘Official Peace Version’ in 1919 with two new verses, one beginning:

One realm of races four
Blest more and ever more,
God save our land!
Home of the brave and free
Set in the silver sea
True nurse of chivalry
God save our land.

A guinea was offered for the best continuation to the following:

God bless our sovereign Queen,
Who all her life has been
Our hearts’ true Queen;
Help us to dedicate
Our service, small or great,
And on Thee daily wait
To bless our Queen

Taken from the Dore Parish Magazine - May 1953