Canada Changes National Anthem Lyrics To Be More “Gender-Neutral”

Jenna Miller, Associate Editor

National anthems are a crucial part of any country and their history; their lyrics often date back to many years ago and have been sung the same way for generation upon generation. So, why would one country suddenly go and officially change the lyrics to their national anthem?

Canada’s national anthem, “O Canada”, was originally written in 1880 and began to be used as a national anthem in 1939; it was not officially adopted as the anthem of Canada until 1980, though. The song has contained the lyric “in all thy sons command” since 1913, but there have been various attempts to change it to the more gender-neutral “in all of us command” since 1990. None of these attempts have been successful, however – until now. A bill was passed in the House of Commons in its third reading, 225-74, in June 2016 to change the lyric; it was seen by the Senate in July 2017, and eventually got formally passed on January 31, 2018. The bill received royal assent on February 7, 2018 and since then, it has become a law. “O Canada”’s lyrics have been officially changed to contain the line “True patriot love in all of us command.”

The modification of the song’s lyrics has received both positive and negative criticism from Canadians; while many, especially women, accept it with open arms and appreciate how the new lyrics encompass all genders now, others feel as if changing the lyrics is taking away from Canada’s history and messing with the song. One Canadian resident, in an interview with the Canadian branch of the Huffington Post, claimed “In all thy sons command is military, and taking that out shows no respect for those that died for us.”