They’re playing our song – two national anthems

Both Canada and the US threw parties in the first week of July. National anthems were a big part of those patriotic celebrations. The anthems were written and chosen purposefully to tell a story, so here’s my little blog about the anthems and the story they tell. 


July 1 – Canada Day

July 1 marks marks Canadian confederation – the creation of the nascent dominion of Canada. It’s like a birthday, or maybe a wedding. It marks a becoming, and a coming together.

Interestingly, it was not called Canada Day until 1982. Until then it was called Dominion Day.

The Canadian national anthem – O Canada – was written by Calixa Lavallée. It wasn’t officially our anthem until 1980 but it had been performed and sung as an anthem for decades. It had some early competition in the songs The Maple Leaf Forever by Alexander Muir, and God Save the Queen.


July 4 – Independence Day

Americans celebrate their independence day on July 4th. It is a celebration of becoming autonomous from the British Crown. It’s a coming of age party. It marks a becoming, and a breaking of old ties.

The American national anthem is The Star-Spangled Banner, which uses the tune of a popular British song called To Anacreon in Heaven written by John Stafford Smith (is that ironic? maybe? declaring independence from Britain but always celebrating it by singing a British song?)