“We don’t sing that verse. It’s about the Scots.”
“What do you mean you don’t sing that verse?”
“We don’t sing it. We never sing it because its all about the Scots.”
I was at the church Senior’s Group where I’d been asked to come as a guest speaker.
“I’m sorry, I’m not understanding what you mean. I thought this was the National Anthem, ‘God Save the Queen.’”
“Yes, it is, but you see these lines in verse two. It’s about the Scots and the way the English feel about them and we don’t sing it in Scotland. You see the part about ‘confound their politics, frustrate their knavish tricks’? That’s about the Scots.”
The club president was setting me straight.
Last November Lisa and I were here in Scotland to interview for my present position with the Church of Scotland. It was Armistice Day and at the remembrance service the National Anthem was played. It was then I realized that America had borrowed the tune for its own patriotic song, “My Country ‘Tis of Thee.” I thought it would be nice to lead the group in a medley on my flute.
After clearing up the controversy about verse 2, we proceeded on well.
Scotland and England have a long and bloody history together, one that has been tenuously held together for the last 300 years with a union of sorts. In the last ten years there has been a slow but steady rise in Scottish nationalism evidenced by the recent establishment of the Scottish National Parliament and the increased sales and rentals of kilts, particularly among young men. There are some who are even clamoring (rattling swords?) for separate nationhood.
The old resentment towards English oppression lingers on in the old, perhaps skipping a generation and finding root in the hearts of the young.
But, because the second verse is never sung, most Scots don’t know that it even exists. For those who may feel their own hearts stirred by Scots Nationalism steeped in the memory of English persecution, here is the despised Verse 2. (Americans, remember to sing this to the tune of “My Country…”).
O Lord our God arise,
Scatter her enemies
And make them fall;
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
Oh, save us all!