French Language Blog

Ô Canada: The Canadian National Anthem in French Posted by on Sep 16, 2010 in Culture, Music, Vocabulary

Alors, quoi dire de la culture française à Terre-Neuve? Actually, although it’s bilingual, Newfoundland is not very French. (It is awfully irlandais—Irish—however, for reasons of historical migration.)


One element of bilinguality les Terre-neuviens can’t get away from, however, is l’hymne national, the national anthem.  “O Canada,” or “Ô Canada” (with a chapeau on the O) in French, has official lyrics in English and in French, as well as native language Inuktitut.

Les paroles en anglais ne sont pas une traduction des paroles en français. The French lyrics (paroles) are the originals, a French Canadian poem set to music in 1880. The original French lyrics were translated to English in 1906, rewritten in 1908 and revised twice to their present form. They are no longer a literal translation.  I’d ask you to spot les differences, mais en fait, les similarités sont plus rares!

Official English

O Canada!

Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all thy sons command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

Official French

Ô Canada!

Terre de nos aïeux,
Ton front est ceint de fleurons glorieux!

Car ton bras sait porter l’épée,
Il sait porter la croix!
Ton histoire est une épopée
Des plus brillants exploits.
Et ta valeur, de foi trempée,
Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.

Protégera nos foyers et nos droits.
Translation of French:
O Canada!
Land of our forefathers,
Thy brow is wreathed with a glorious
garland of flowers.
As is thy arm ready to wield the sword,
So also is it ready to carry the cross.
Thy history is an epic
Of the most brilliant exploits.
Thy valour steeped in faith
Will protect our homes and our rights

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