Anthems of Canada

When the first familiar chords of “O Canada” play at schools, hockey games and other events, Canadians stand with pride in honour of their country. Proclaimed to be Canada’s national anthem on July 1, 1980, “O Canada” was first sung in French 100 years earlier.

Official lyrics of “O Canada”

English version

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons 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.

View the PDF version of the sheet music (23 KB).

French version

« O Canada! Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.

Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits. »

View the PDF version of the French sheet music (23 KB).

Bilingual version

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

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!

Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits,

God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

View the PDF version of the bilingual sheet music (23 KB).

Recordings of “O Canada”

To listen to an MP3 recording of “O Canada”, click on the link. To download the file, right-click the link, select “Save target as” and choose a location to save the file.

History of the national anthem

“O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem in 1980, one century after it was first sung in 1880. The music was composed by Calixa Lavallée – a well-known composer at the time – while the French lyrics to accompany the music were written by Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier.

As the song became more and more popular, many English versions were written over the years. Ultimately, the official English lyrics were based on a poem written in 1908 by The Honourable Robert Stanley Weir. The French lyrics remain unaltered since 1880.

Read the full history of “O Canada”, and learn about the lives of the people behind the anthem.

Timing and etiquette for anthem use

There is no specific rule as to when it is appropriate to sing the national anthem at an event. It is up to the organizers to determine if “O Canada” will be sung at the beginning or at the end of a ceremony. If two anthems are to be played at the beginning of an event, “O Canada” should be played first followed by the other one. When anthems are played at the end of an event, “O Canada” should be played last.

As a matter of respect and tradition, it is proper to stand for the playing of “O Canada”; this is also the case for the anthem of any other nation. It is traditional for civilian men to take off their hats during the playing of the national anthem. Women and children do not remove their hats on such occasions.

There is no law or behaviour governing the playing of the national anthem; it is left to the good citizenship of individuals.

Copyright and commercial use of the anthem

As the National Anthem Act only sets the melody for the anthem, musicians are free to arrange the score to suit their needs.

There is no copyright on the melody and the words of the national anthem, the Act having declared them to be in the public domain. However, it is possible to copyright the arrangements made to the melody.

While the words of the national anthem may be translated in languages other than English or French, it should be noted that other translated versions will not have an official status.

In terms of commercial use, both “O Canada” and “God Save The Queen” are in the public domain and may be used without having to obtain permission from the government.

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