GO Canada!

ml1eQ2OHave I mentioned that I’m on sabbatical?!? It’s true. On June 5, I started a 6-month ministry sabbatical. The focus? Rest, recovery, renewal, and…

…Soccer. Lots of soccer.

You see, it’s been so good of the Lord to host not one, but two, international soccer tournaments here to kick off sabbatical. I’ve been watching 3, 4, sometimes 5 matches a day!

Which means I’ve watched a lot of national anthems. And there are some beautiful ones out there. I love the Russian anthem. The Mexican anthem is strong. And my Welsh blood was pumping on Thursday morning after a rousing rendition of Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau!

But the thing that grabs me at the beginning of each match is the gusto with which the players and fans sing their anthem. Because at an international tournament, it’s not really about a paycheck, or sponsors, or the club you represent, or even your personal notoriety.

It’s about your country. So, sing on lads!

As it turns out, most national anthems are pretty old. The German anthem dates to 1922. The Guatemalan anthem was selected in 1896 from a government competition. And England’s God Save the Queen (or King, depending on who’s on the throne) dates all the way back to 1745.

And because they are old, they can sometimes use some tweaking, which is exactly what is happening with Canada’s anthem. The update?

Gender inclusive language.

According to this article, on Wednesday the Canadian House of Commons voted 225 to 74 to alter the anthem’s third line to reflect an inclusive term that captures both men and women. Soon, the Canadian Senate is expected to join the House in approving the change.

Now, I know you’re all trying to recall the Canadian anthem, perhaps from the last hockey broadcast you watched. Let me help. The 1908 version reads as follows:

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

Now, the updated lyrics read like this:

O Canada
Our home and native land!
True patriot’s love in all of us command…

And there you have it. Two changed words and, all of a sudden, all Canadians are included in the anthem. From the article:

The status of women minister, Patty Hajdu, speaking before the vote, said the change was an important step toward ensuring inclusivity in Canada’s cultural symbols.

“I think it’s really important as a very strong symbol of our commitment to gender equality in this country,” she told reporters.

Props to you Canada. It’s not easy to change things like this. In fact, an effort to change the lyrics in 2010 met with failure.

But, as I’ve said before, language matters. And so as disruptive as changing the lyrics to a 108 year old national anthem might be, it is worth the effort. I agree with Minister Hajdu; changing the words makes a strong statement.

Now, to get some other countries to follow suit. Remember that line above about my Welsh blood?

Turns out it’s time to get my people in line.

The Welsh anthem’s title, after all, translates to “Old Land of My Fathers…”

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