Bob Jones on the National Anthem

November 29th, 2012 at 12:00 pm by David Farrar

Bob Jones writes in the Herald:

After many petitions over the years, the Muldoon government announced in 1976 that it would now have equal status with that other preposterously worded anthem, God Save the Queen, as our joint national anthems. Save the Queen from what? Scurvy, being eaten alive by a flock of frenzied flamingos, bursting into flames? We’re not told.

Aside from its totally over-the-top excessive use, which negates what one would assume ought to be a specialness, my other objection to our anthem is the preposterous lyrics. Targeting a mythical entity, God, it consists of a medley of pleadings, plus bragging about our wonderfulness. Like the Australian anthem, it is hugely embarrassing. I especially scorn the, “Peace not war shall be our boast” in the third stanza. In fairness to Bracken, he was not to know that over the next 130 years, we would be declaring war on numerous Africans, Asians and Europeans. Muldoon even wanted to chime in against Argentina 30 years ago but was knocked back when the Brits assured him Nepal’s Gurkhas had the matter in hand.

Picture the scene in the Kaiser’s palace in Berlin in August 1914. A lackey enters. “Puzzling news, sir. Apparently something called New Zealand has just declared was on us.”

The Kaiser looks astonished. “Have the bloody Dutch gone mad?”

“No, no. It’s somewhere near Colombia, we think. Heinrich’s looking it up now.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why have they declared war on us? I’ve never heard of them.”

“No idea, sir.”

And so our “Peace not war shall be our boast” anthem chanters participated in the most disgracefully pointless mass killing in human history.

Just for a moment, ignore the reality that as Einstein correctly said, “religion is simply childish”, and the fact that space research has now covered billions of miles in every direction without spotting an old bearded bugger in a nightie and sandals, let alone several billion harp-playing angels. Let’s pretend instead that there actually is an all-powerful God, able to control earthly events. Well, put yourself in his place, perhaps sitting quietly having breakfast with Mrs God or enjoying a round of heavenly golf, if enjoyment is possible with the certain knowledge of 18 holes-in-one, or whatever God gets his kicks from, and being constantly interrupted by earthly snivelling to change his mind about this and that, which is what prayer essentially constitutes. Wonderful though God supposedly is, even he would eventually snap and lash out with a few city-destroying earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and whatnot, and who could blame him? So in the interest of giving God a bit of peace and quiet, everyone of a mystical disposition should show some consideration and knock off this constant skyward braying. It’s not doing you any good.

Surely it’s time, after 156 years, for a fresh competition for a new national anthem, or at least its lyrics, cutting out the witchcraft references, given that we’re a secular nation.

I have long thought we could do with a better national anthem. The lyrics aren’t so much the issue for me, than the music. Some of the great anthems of other countries such as France are wonderfully stirring and poignant.

No tag for this post.

51 Responses to “Bob Jones on the National Anthem”

  1. iMP (2,385 comments) says:

    Oh Lord, people are now going to start proposing “Wel-come” or “Ten Guitars” etc. It ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Current is stirring enough.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  2. ChardonnayGuy (1,207 comments) says:

    Absolutely. That scene in Casablanca where the defiant French chanteuse sings the Marsaillaise to spite the local Nazis still sends shivers down my spine!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  3. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    Quite- I’m not enamoured with the words to our national anthem but the brutal fact is that musically, it is a dull dirge. I would welcome its demise and replacement.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  4. Grizz (605 comments) says:

    I just wish people would sing it properly. It is better now than say 10 or 15 years ago when we would get all sorts of bastardisations of it. I was once at a Rugby test when some boygroup sang the anthem so slowly that once the crowd realised they were a whole line ahead they erupted into farcical boos. I absolutely despise the drawing out of the the word New Zealand in the last line. Oh yes, could we sing it in one language. I do not care which one, but just pick one.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  5. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    Jones is a crotchety old bastard who is starting to resemble Muldoon (in looks) year by year. I often get them confused when I see the cover of Jones latest book staring out at me. DPF, you left out his rant at the end about homosexuals –

    Pride is about accomplishment. It’s like the homosexuals and their ridiculous gay pride sloganising. Sodomy ain’t an accomplishment, any more, I hasten to add before they’re all aflutter, than heterosexual activity is

    There’s nothing wrong with our national anthem. I do agree with his criticism of the dreaded Haka, however, which is performed at the drop of a hat these days. It seems we can’t have any event which is associated with New Zealand in any way without the haka being performed. I didn’t see much of the televised Hobbit hoo-haa, but I’m betting the haka was performed there. The haka is about as representative of modern New Zealand as it would be for Americans to perform an Indian rain dance at their events.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  6. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Bugger me – it is a rare day indeed when RRM is in agreement with something “Sir” Robert Jones said.

    Douglas Lilburn’s Prodigal Country is much more uplifting than the New Zealand National anthem… but it runs for about 15 minutes, few have heard of it – let alone heard it – and no-one knows the words, and you need a classically trained choir.

    But God Defend New Zealand is so hopelessly pessimistic and in such a muddy, depressing minor key that almost anything would be better…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  7. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    Save the Queen from what? Scurvy, being eaten alive by a flock of frenzied flamingos, bursting into flames? We’re not told.

    My understanding is that the anthem is imploring God to save the King/Queen’s soul.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  8. Fletch (6,390 comments) says:

    ps, I have yet to have a spin in the “nation’s van” that is mentioned in one of the verses of our anthem.
    I tend to imagine a communal VW, painted with hippy-era peace signs.

    It probably needs a good conditioning by now I’d say, and a current WOF :)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  9. scrubone (3,099 comments) says:

    And so our “Peace not war shall be our boast” anthem chanters participated in the most disgracefully pointless mass killing in human history.

    But for two facts:
    1. It wasn’t the anthem until 1977.
    2. The next lines make is clear that we may be peaceful, but if you mess with us we won’t stand for bullies. A nice balance.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  10. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    One of the biggest problems around discussing alternative national anthems, is, that almost inevitably the conversation moves to Dave Dobbyn’s Slice of Heaven, one of the most embarrassing pieces of redneck folk art this country has yet produced IMHO..

    Howdy aiiynn-gel
    Where’d ya hide yawr wings?

    Her love shines over my horizon
    She’s a slice of heaven, yeah
    Warm moonlight over my horizon
    She’s a slice of heaven, yeah

    etc

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  11. Lance (2,655 comments) says:

    Does anyone care what Bob Jones thinks?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  12. graham (2,335 comments) says:

    RRM – God Defend New Zealand is not in a minor key.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  13. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    I have long thought we could do with a better national anthem. The lyrics aren’t so much the issue for me, than the music. Some of the great anthems of other countries such as France are wonderfully stirring and poignant.

    The National Anthem can be stirring. See for example:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eI-P-AQLMpo

    Nothing wrong with it – just choose a good arrangement!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  14. Pete George (23,567 comments) says:

    Apart from being hard to sing, sounds like a dirge and has awfully dated and awful lyrics there’s not much wrong with it.

    I must admit that the Maori verse sounds better, but maybe that’s because I don’t remember what it means.

    We could do with an anthem that doesn’t sound like hymn in someone else’s church, but there are probably too many clinging to the past to let go if it without a big fight. As peace is our boast, apparently, I guess that war is unlikely to be declared – officially at least.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  15. thedavincimode (6,759 comments) says:

    No Lance (apart from Bob)

    The new anthem already exists: Bobby McFerrin: “Don’t Worry Be Happy”

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  16. RRM (9,924 comments) says:

    Graham –

    My mistake then… It must be F-flat major or something awful like that, to sound as melancholy as it does!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  17. Carlos (683 comments) says:

    Out of all the tunes, I still think the old Soviet / current Russian Federation tune is the most stirring. It’s so good that when the Russians went back to the tune after trying a new, much more dreary one after the fall of the Soviet Union. I’m only talking about the tune here. I have no idea what the current lyrics are.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  18. Graeme Edgeler (3,289 comments) says:

    But for two facts:
    1. It wasn’t the anthem until 1977.

    But it was the National Hymn before then.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  19. lazza (381 comments) says:

    Theme from Rocky III maybe Bob?

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  20. Akaroa (557 comments) says:

    Er! ‘Scuse me, but its the National Anthem folks!!

    Not Top of the Pops, or “x-weeks in the Top Twenty”, but a hymn.

    You remember hymns, eh?

    Some good, some bad, some catchy, some dirgey.

    The essence of the thing is its significance as a national statement, not its musical appeal.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  21. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    Carlos #

    Here it is the USSR National Anthem with subtitles –

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yDrtNEr_5M

    It is stirring so I wouldn’t think it is appropriate for a little out of the way place like NZ.

    Besides that, we haven’t had a civil war or been invaded. Nothing much of any importance has ever really happened in NZ.

    With all the socialism, feminism, PC and gay sex then I suggest the Play School Theme. :cool:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  22. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    First verse of the Marseillaise:-

    Arise children of the fatherland
    The day of glory has arrived
    Against us tyranny’s
    Bloody standard is raised
    Listen to the sound in the fields
    The howling of these fearsome soldiers
    They are coming into our midst
    To cut the throats of your sons and consorts
    Chrous:-
    To arms citizens Form your battalions
    March, march
    Let impure blood
    Water our furrows

    it continues in somewhat similar bloodthirsty vein

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  23. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    I absolutely agree that ‘God Defend New Zealand’ is dire- Especially now we force two dreadful versions upon unsuspecting sports opponents (what other country in the World inflicts such torture?)
    But those calling for it’s banishment are missing a vital point- It must be replaced with something, and if you think ‘God Defend’ is bad wait until Dave Dobbyn composes it’s replacement. Sung in Maori, it will be a dreadful touchy-feely ‘Celebration of Multi-Cultural Aoteroa’ (of course excluding any mention of those ‘evil’ colonial Europeans who built this country)

    Don’t say I didn’t warn you….

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  24. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    Comparing GDNZ with la Marseillaise (or even the German DUA) is like comparing your wife with a Victoria’s secret lingerie model. It may not be so flash, but it’s what you’ve got so deal with it.

    Marseillaise is so good, because it captures the birth of the republic and the spirit of revolution. GDNZ is so shit, because it doesn’t. It’s a hymn in praise of the steady as it goes status quo.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  25. Alan Johnstone (1,087 comments) says:

    “it continues in somewhat similar bloodthirsty vein”

    It’s not bloodthirsty, it’s about the defense of homeland.

    Hearing 60,000 French people sing it is spine tingling. It’s miles better than the Haka

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  26. Manolo (13,780 comments) says:

    Yes, the French, alongsie the Iatlians, the “best” defenders of their respective homelands as very recent history shows.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  27. Longknives (4,753 comments) says:

    “Hearing 60,000 French people sing it is spine tingling. It’s miles better than the Haka”

    Wait.. What? You mean there is more to rugby culture than Ali Williams going all googly eyed and poking his tongue out at the camera??

    Don’t break this news to Colville and Bereal, it will destroy them..

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  28. Chthoniid (2,047 comments) says:

    @Harriet

    Besides that, we haven’t had a civil war or been invaded. Nothing much of any importance has ever really happened in NZ.

    Pfft, were you sleeping when the Happy Feet saga was unfolding on the global scene? The world would be brought to its knees if if wasn’t for us supplying them with most of their penguin news stories. Anybody can have a war, people have been doing it for centuries. We’ve got penguins! Lots and lots of news about penguins.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  29. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    I vote for Ten Guitars.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  30. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    If anyone clicks on the link I submitted @ 1.02pm, read the subtitles and change the words Lenin to Helin, Labour to Motherland and Unions to bulwark…….sit back…………..and picture Helin when Lenin appears….and picture rag tag uniosts and Minto/Bradford types when the soliders appear……….actually here’s the link!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0yDrtNEr_5M :cool:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  31. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    Also…………picture as soliders………feminists, gays, academics, and public service workers……….and any other oddities of the Left! :cool:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  32. Falafulu Fisi (2,179 comments) says:

    New Zealand could adopt this tune as a National Anthem. WHY? Because it is very short (1 minute long).

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  33. adamsmith1922 (890 comments) says:

    to Alan Johnstone

    La Marseillaise celebrates battle and resistance and was for many an anthem of revolution. It is a superb tune.

    GDNZ is a dirge. Unfortunately we would probably replace it with another dirge especially if we adopted a Dave Dobbyn tune, eg Loyal probably one of the worst songs ever.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  34. Richard Hurst (859 comments) says:

    ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’… ;)

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  35. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    This would turn heads

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  36. Tom Jackson (2,553 comments) says:

    Topical

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  37. Harriet (4,972 comments) says:

    ‘Tomorrow belongs to me’…

    Andrew Bolt once posted that….it was sung very well too! :cool:

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  38. James Stephenson (2,180 comments) says:

    @Tom

    Sheep is out of date, it’s all about dairy these days

    [youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nFM_ZvkYQQs&w=560&h=315

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  39. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Put it to Dave Dobbin and Neil Finn

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  40. Mark (1,488 comments) says:

    Bob must be bored

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  41. Ricardo (54 comments) says:

    The Welsh have the best national anthem. Google it sung by the crowd at Millennium Stadium to make you spine tingle. Go on, try it.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  42. bhudson (4,740 comments) says:

    @RRM,

    Dave Dobbyn? Surely not. This would be a better contender….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AYvMeT2GC14

    A more catchy tune. And so true.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  43. kowtow (8,487 comments) says:

    Cultural cringe with a hint of republicanism.

    La Marsellaise? Yes let’s sing about murdering fellow citizens who oppose our illegal regicide revolution.Same with their national day,celebrate murdering prison guards.

    Casablanca? Bollocks,the Vichy opposed the Allied landings and even executed French soldiers who assisted those landings,after they had joined the Allies!
    In Syria,the French fought against the Allies and after surrendering a majority of the Vichy army refused to join the Allies .

    Real patriots! But there won’t be any Hollyweird movies about that collaboration.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  44. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    There’s nothing wrong with our national anthems – GDNZ and GSTQ. There is a lot wrong with the opinions of Bob Jones on, well, everything.
    LOL @Pete George 12.29pm wanting a translation of the Maori verse!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  45. BlairM (2,339 comments) says:

    I love the lyrics of our anthem. They were written by Thomas Bracken, a fine poet and the first New Zealand patriot. The music, not so much, but if there are any budding composers out there who can do better, they should give it a burl.

    My favourite line is “May our mountains ever be… freedom’s ramparts on the sea”. How beautiful is that?! It’s up there with Churchill and “We will defend our island…” New Zealanders should be proud of their anthem, and those wonderful words.

    If you want a kickarse version, you can do no better than either the bombastic ’80s Closedown Annie Crummer rendition, or the more reflectively indigenous, but equally powerful Cindy Ruakare.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  46. rightoverlabour (108 comments) says:

    Have to agree about the Soviet anthem. Its a “kick arse – don’t F&*k with us” anthem. Actually lot of Europe’s anthems are pretty good. However, the one little bit of satisfaction I get with the present NZ anthem/hymn is how may die- hard atheists pray this hymn every time its sung…

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  47. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Yes, because if you sing a song you are absolutely committing to its sentiments. Take that commie atheists!

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  48. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    Just speed up the tempo and cease the interpretive licence employed by so many performers trying too hard to be different.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  49. mikenmild (11,247 comments) says:

    Force schoolchildren to sing it daily with pride and gusto.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  50. V (720 comments) says:

    Maybe its just that a good version hasn’t been done in a while.
    This one seemed to improve the tone: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZbfFoiz3XOM

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote
  51. Dazzaman (1,140 comments) says:

    Our anthem is great, one of the truly great anthems, no doubts. Like the monarchy & the flag, it should remain the status quo for decades I’d say…The only decent thing Bob Jones has to espouse on is boxing & business, probably in that order. Though he is right that it is overdone.

    The French anthem is overrated, doesn’t stir my blood one bit…a garbled, nonsensical gibberish set to an average tune is NOT a great anthem. Time they just got with the program & spoke English. I do like the Japanese anthem, I have not a clue what they’re singing about either but musically it’s well done.

    Vote: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 You need to be logged in to vote