National Anthem of France (Lyrics, History)

The national anthem of France is called “La Mareseillaise.” The song was originally written in 1792 and was adopted just a few years later. The song was written by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle following the declaration of war against Austria by France. The original title of the song was “War Song for the Rhine Army.”

The theme of France’s national anthem is simple – it’s a revolutionary song that calls out for its citizens to fight back against tyranny and invasion and to fight for their freedom. The song was adopted by the French National Convention in 1795. Under the rule of Napoleon I, however, the anthem retained its official status. It was later banned by Louis XVII and Charles X. However, in 1879, it was once again restored and used as the country’s national anthem.

France’s national anthem features six verses. However, generally just the first verse and chorus are sung today, although sometimes the fifth and sixth verses are also sung. The song has been adapted for use in many works, from a quote used by Ludwig van Beethoven in the Wellington’s Victory overture to a use by the hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest as the outro to the song “Push It Along.”

Lyrics

Arise, children of the Fatherland,
The day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised, (repeat)
Do you hear, in the countryside,
The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
They're coming right into your arms
To cut the throats of your sons, your women!


To arms, citizens,
Form your battalions,
Let's march, let's march!
Let an impure blood
Water our furrows!


What does this horde of slaves,
Of traitors and conspiring kings want?
For whom have these vile chains,
These irons, been long-prepared? (repeat)
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What furious action it must arouse!
It is to us they dare plan
A return to the old slavery!


To arms, citizens...


What! Foreign cohorts
Would make the law in our homes!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would strike down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Great God! By chained hands
Our brows would yield under the yoke!
Vile despots would have themselves become
The masters of our destinies!


To arms, citizens...


Tremble, tyrants and you traitors
The shame of all parties,
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will finally receive their prize! (repeat)
Everyone is a soldier to combat you,
If they fall, our young heroes,
Will be produced anew from the ground,
Ready to fight against you!


To arms, citizens...


Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Bear or hold back your blows!
Spare those sorry victims,
For regretfully arming against us. (repeat)
But these bloodthirsty despots,
These accomplices of Bouillé,
All these tigers who mercilessly
Tear apart their mother's breast!


To arms, citizens...


Sacred love of the Fatherland,
Lead, support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished Liberty,
Fight with thy defenders! (repeat)
Under our flags victory
Hurries to thy manly accents,
Thy expiring enemies,
See thy triumph and our glory!


To arms, citizens...


(Children's Verse)
We shall enter the (military) career
When our elders are no longer there,
There we shall find their dust
And the trace of their virtues (repeat)
Much less keen to survive them
Than to share their coffins,
We shall have the sublime pride
To avenge or follow them.


To arms, citizens...