…and sing La Marseillaise!
The sunniest public event in the aftermath of the atrocious terrorist attacks on Paris has been the united singing of the national French anthem at Wembley Stadium, when thousands of French and English football fans (including Prince William) were belting out La Marseillaise together with the French and English national football teams – with a lot of gusto, unflagging confidence and good humour. In an outstanding joint effort people let the sun of friendship shine brightly at Wembley Stadium.
Indeed, considerable efforts were needed to accomplish this heart-warming event. Get to know the words of the anthem, understand them and, biggest challenge of all, make the words sound French! I mean, it’s not god-given to a native English tongue to pronounce French words in a French way, is it? There’s a long tradition of learning French as a foreign language in the English speaking world, of course, and more than likely there are millions who have succeeded in doing so. But, this extremely extravagant French pronunciation is an encounter of the third kind – it must surely have been concocted right during the Babylonian jumble of languages, obviously by some nasally gifted biblical scholars ! So, first and foremost, a legible phonetic transcription of the anthem was needed. But would anybody be able to rip the French sounds from the freedom-spirited words of La Marseillaise? “Aux armes, citoyen” – “To arms, citizens” – how could anybody sound-doctor these eternal words of resistance into a good English read?! A case of mission impossible, I thought, an unfeasible feat to chip away the phonological body from its orthographical sibling.That’s what I thought until, suddenly, out of the blue, a twitter message popped up: It was India Knight’s sweet-lettered soundtrack of the first verse and chorus of La Marseillaise. Here it is again, quoted for everybody to delight in:
And here it is, too, for private use to light up one’s low spirits (“Allons enfants…”) or for public use to stand together as citizens (“Marchons, marchons…”). As, for example, at this weekend’s Premier League matches when La Marseillaise is being played as a gesture of solidarity and remembrance. With 72 French players in the Premier League and its firm friendship to France it feels just right to hum along with the melody of the Marseillaise or even join in with the chorus: OZARM-uh, sit-waah-yen! Join in with the arms of friendship, citizens!