La Marseillaise

Album: National Anthems (1792)
Play Video

Songfacts®:

  • "La Marseillaise" or "The Marseillaise" is one of the most instantly recognizable of National Anthems.

    According to the 1997 edition of National Anthems of the World, it is not only the National Anthem of France but is also used in French Guiana, French Polynesia, Guadeloupe, Martinique, Mayotte, New Caledonia, Reunion, St. Pierre-Miquelon and Wallis & Futuna Islands. According to the same book, it was "Written and composed on 24 April 1792, as a marching song. Adopted as the National Anthem on 15 July, 1795." The composer was Claude-Joseph Rouget de L'isle (1760-1836); a translation by T.M. Cartledge gives the opening line as "Arise, children of the fatherland..." and the final line of its seven verses as "May the tyrant's foul blood water our furrows!" Other translations are more palatable!

    The title means literally someone or something from Marseilles, this derived from its being sung by troops from Marseilles when they arrived in Paris; it was originally called "Chant De Guerre De L'armeé Du Rhin" which may be translated as "War Song Of The Army Of The Rhine."
  • Amateur musician Rouget de Lisle was a Captain of the Engineers stationed in Strasbourg at the time. His composition was played at a patriotic banquet at Marseilles, and printed copies were handed out to the revolutionary forces then marching on Paris. They entered the city singing it on August 10 that year.

    A Royalist, Rouget de Lisle refused to take the oath of allegiance to the new Constitution, and was lucky to escape with his head, literally, as at this time Madame Guillotine was in full swing. "La Marseilles" was banned by Napoleon, reinstated, banned again, and then reinstated finally in 1879.
  • The French National Anthem appears in many English language films, including the 1942 classic Casablanca and the 1973 thriller The Day Of The Jackal (which inspired the Kate Bush song "James And The Cold Gun"). Lennon-McCartney used a few bars from "La Marseillaise" at the beginning of "All You Need Is Love." >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 3
  • This song was performed across the globe in solidarity with France in the days after the November 13, 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris. The following day, the Metropolitan Opera in New York City opened its matinee performance with a rendition by Plácido Domingo; the song's lyrics were included in the program, and the audience sang along in support.

Comments: 2

  • Gym Mines from SaleIt is time to take a look at our National Anthem as it is really the Queen's anthem ad does nothing for many Patriotic English people like myself.
    I am proud to call myself ENGLISH - NOT A ROYALIST.
  • Chomper03 from Chambersburg, PaThis song was also used in the Monty Python's movie, "And Now For Something Completely Different". In the movie, it was used during the "Man With The Tape Recorder Up His Nose" scene; in which a man played the tune while sticking a finger up his nose and his brother's nose. :P
see more comments

Editor's Picks

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New Words

Facebook, Bromance and Email - The First Songs To Use New WordsSong Writing

Where words like "email," "thirsty," "Twitter" and "gangsta" first showed up in songs, and which songs popularized them.

Hawksley Workman

Hawksley WorkmanSongwriter Interviews

One of Canada's most popular and eclectic performers, Hawksley tells stories about his oldest songs, his plentiful side projects, and the ways that he keeps his songwriting fresh.

Metallica

MetallicaFact or Fiction

Beef with Bon Jovi? An unfortunate Spandex period? See if you can spot the true stories in this Metallica version of Fact or Fiction.

Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon Wainwright IIISongwriter Interviews

"Dead Skunk" became a stinker for Loudon when he felt pressure to make another hit - his latest songs deal with mortality, his son Rufus, and picking up poop.

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top Proverb

How "A Rolling Stone Gathers No Moss" Became Rock's Top ProverbSong Writing

How a country weeper and a blues number made "rolling stone" the most popular phrase in rock.

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic Furs

Tim Butler of The Psychedelic FursSongwriter Interviews

Tim and his brother Richard are the Furs' foundation; Tim explains how they write and tells the story of "Pretty In Pink."