O Canada line selected

After considerable review, the Foundation for Public Poetry hereby announces that a line has been selected to forward to Ottawa for the government’s consideration to replace “True patriot love in all thy sons command” in the National Anthem Act.

First, a warm thank you to all who submitted. Entries were received from all 10 provinces. Many were excellent, but alas, only one could be selected.

The line that will be submitted to Parliament via the Canadian Senate is: True patriot love in all persons command. The word “persons” is to be sung with the same “sons” sound as in the current version(i.e. True patriot love in all per/sons command.)

A shortlist had been submitted to three members of the original author’s (Robert Stanley Weir’s) descendants. The shortlist was comprised of:

1. Faithful and diverse, in unity we stand;

2. True patriot love in all of us command; and

3. True patriot love in all persons command.

The idea of replacing a poet’s words(even a long-departed one) is not to be taken lightly. If O Canada was not Canada’s national anthem, designated by Parliamentary decree, the original author’s work ought not be altered.

However, the object of ensuring the anthem reflect gender inclusivity is significant. This was the underlying reason for initiating the contest, following the death of journalist Michelle Lang in Afghanistan. Another major object was to maintain as best as possible Judge Robert Stanley Weir’s original spirit and words.

Although it was not originally envisaged, a prize for honourable mention will be given. Christy Zutautas of Bradford, Ontario shall receive a copy of the Foundation for Public Poetry’s book, Leonard Cohen You’re Our Man. Her submission, “Faithful and diverse, in unity we stand” was noted by one of the Weir family advisors.

“I favour #3(True patriot love in all persons command) as it will mean the least disruption to the way we sing it now, even though the sentiment of #1(Faithful and diverse, in unity we stand) is most appealing,” commented Sonia Weir Stairs, a Judge Weir great-granddaughter. Another Weir family member, Timothy J. Foulkes found the “person” version acceptable.

“I was singing O Canada to myself last night on a walk through the woods and, like Sonia, I also like “per sons” because it can be sung by hold-outs who wish to sing “thy sons” without creating disharmony,” wrote Foulkes(grandson of Judge Weir) in an email.

Another Weir family member, Stephen W.W. Simpson, submitted his comments by telephone.

A recommendation will now be forwarded to Ottawa, likely the Senate, as the amendment contains an historic Senate reference. More information about the Persons reference can be seen at The Persons Case

The individual who submitted the selected line has requested anonymity, citing “the credit for O Canada is rightfully Robert Stanley Weir’s.” The Foundation for Public Poetry agrees.

Thanks also to Penn Kemp–an exceptional Canadian poet–who put me in contact with Judge Weir’s family. And thanks to the entire Weir extended family who maintain the guardianship of Judge Weir’s glorious and free spirit!

Jack Locke. Poet-In-Chief

Foundation for Public Poetry/Fondation Poésie Publique

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3 Responses to “O Canada line selected”

  1. Joanna Gosse Says:

    As a singer I find “persons” with the same emphasis as “our sons” very awkward.

    “in all of us command” is much better.

  2. Janice Kinch Says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to participate in this alteration of wording event for our national anthem. I agree that the choice is a good one. Good luck with the submission to Ottawa. Janice

  3. CV Says:

    It sounds contrived, but yes, it adheres to the rule of PC.

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