This article is about the anthem "La Marseillaise". A sculpture popularly called "La Marseillaise" is part of the sculptural program of the Arc de Triomphe.

"La Marseillaise" (Template:IPA2; in English The Song of Marseille) is the national anthem of France.

History Edit


"La Marseillaise" is a song written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle at Strasbourg on April 25, 1792. Its original name is "Chant de guerre de l'Armée du Rhin" ("Marching Song of the Rhine Army") and it was dedicated to Marshall Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian-born French officer from Cham. It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and got its name because it was first sung on the streets by troops (fédérés) from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris.


"La Marseillaise" was re-arranged by Hector Berlioz around 1830.

Robert Schumann, while setting some Heinrich Heine poems to music, used part of the Marseillaise for Heine's "The Two Grenadiers" poem at the end of the piece when the old French soldier dies (Opus 49, No.1). Schumann would also incorporate the Marseillaise as a major motif in his other overture, 'Hermann und Dorothea' inspired by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.

In 1882, Pyotr Tchaikovsky used extensive quotes from the Marseillaise to represent the invading French army in his 1812 Overture. This was an anachronism, as the Marseillaise was the French anthem in Tchaikovsky's day, but not Napoleon's.

Serge Gainsbourg recorded a reggae version in the late 1970s.

Historical use and adoptionEdit

Now the national anthem of France, the song was also once the anthem of the international revolutionary movement. Indeed, the words of "The Internationale", written in 1870 by Eugène Pottier were originally set to the tune of "La Marseillaise". During the Paris Commune (1871) that was adopted as an anthem; it was only in 1888 that Pierre Degeyter re-set "The Internationale" to the tune known today.

Because great numbers of left-wing supporters around the world, particularly anarchists, took inspiration from the Commune, the song became an international symbol of leftism. For instance, in Chicago, the Haymarket Martyrs went to their deaths singing the "Marseillaise". In 1917, after the collapse of the tsarist regime "La Marseillaise" and "The Internationale" were both used as de facto anthems of the nascent Soviet Union.[1][2] Within a few years "The Internationale" gradually prevailed and became the only anthem. The Russian lyrics of "Marseillaise", "Otrechemsya ot starogo mira", are quite different from the French. However, both French and Russian lyrics were sung in Russia.

The song was both the official anthem of the French State and Free France.

It was banned under the French Empires of Napoléon and Napoléon III and during the German occupation during World War II.

In France itself, some of the anthem lyrics have come to be considered militaristic in certain circles, and some propositions have been made to change the anthem or the lyrics.[3] However, "La Marseillaise" has been associated throughout history with the French Republic and its values, and it remains very popular.

Confederate artillery Major John Pelham allegedly sang the song cheerfully at the American Civil War Battle of Fredricksburg as his pair of guns blasted the Army of the Potomac, so the Union Army was unable to attack. This stalled them to the point of defeat the next day.Template:Cn

Henrik Wergeland wrote a Norwegian version of the song in 1831, called The Norwegian Marseillan.

Unofficial versions Edit

Fiction Edit

The song's theme was used by Jacques Offenbach in his Opera "Orphée aux enfers" to illustrate a revolution amongst the Olympic gods and goddesses with the lines "Aux armes Dieux et Demi-Dieux".

The song was part of a famous scene in the film Casablanca in which French resistance sympathisers used the song to drown out the Nazi soldiers who were singing "Die Wacht am Rhein". These two songs were juxtaposed in exactly the same way five years earlier, in Jean Renoir's 1937 film Grand Illusion. Renoir traced the history of the song in the film he made the following year, "La Marseillaise". [6]

The British comedy series 'Allo 'Allo! spoofed Casablanca by having the patriotic French characters start singing "La Marseillaise", only to switch to Deutschland über alles when Nazi officers enter their cafe.

Abel Gance's film Napoléon features a striking scene in which the song is first sung by the French masses.

In the 1981 movie Escape to Victory, the final scene features the entire crowd of the stadium in occupied Paris spontaneously sing La Marseillaise at the end of the game.

Also featured in Isaac Asimov's short SF story, 'Battle-hymn' about how the national anthem is used as a subliminal advertising ploy.

Featured in the Monty Python sketches, "A Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Nose" and "A Man With a Tape Recorder Up His Brother's Nose"

Glass Joe from Mike Tyson's Punch-Out!!, a Nintendo Entertainment System boxing game, uses part of the song as his ring theme.

Music Edit

There are various versions of the music. Sheet music can be found at [7]. An official version from the website of the French President is available as a MIDI file.


Note only the first verse (and sometimes the 5th and 6th) and the first chorus are sung today in France. There are some slight historical variations in the lyrics of the song; the following is the version listed at official website of the French Presidency [8].

La Marseillaise

Allons enfants de la Patrie Arise, you children of the fatherland
Le jour de gloire est arrivé ! The day of glory has arrived!
Contre nous de la tyrannie Against us, tyranny
L'étendard sanglant est levé (bis) [1] Has raised its bloodied banner (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes Do you hear in the fields
Mugir ces féroces soldats ? The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras They are coming into your midst
Égorger vos fils, vos compagnes ! To devour your sons, your wives!
Aux armes, citoyens ! To arms, citizens!
Formez vos bataillons ! Form your battalions!
Marchons, marchons ! Let us march, let us march!
Qu'un sang impur May impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons ! Soak our fields' furrows!
Que veut cette horde d'esclaves, What does this horde of slaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés ? Traitors, and plotting kings want?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves For whom these vile chains
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis) These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Français, pour nous, ah! Quel outrage, Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage,
Quels transports il doit exciter ! What fury it must arouse!
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer It is us they dare plan
De rendre à l'antique esclavage ! To return to the old slavery!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...
Quoi! Des cohortes étrangères ! What! These foreign cohorts!
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers ! They would make laws in our homes!
Quoi! Ces phalanges mercenaires What! These mercenary phalanxes
Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis) Would cut down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Grand Dieu! Par des mains enchaînées Good Lord! By chained hands
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient Our brow would yield under the yoke
De vils despotes deviendraient The vile despots would become
Les maîtres de nos destinées ! The masters of our destinies!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides Tremble, tyrants and traitors
L'opprobre de tous les partis The shame of all good men
Tremblez! Vos projets parricides Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis) Will receive their just reward! (repeat)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre Against you, we are all soldiers
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros, If our young heroes fall,
La terre en produit de nouveaux, The earth will bear new ones,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre ! Ready to join the fight against you!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...
Français, en guerriers magnanimes, Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Portez ou retenez vos coups ! Bear or hold back your blows!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes Spare these sad victims
À regret s'armant contre nous (bis) That they may regret taking up arms against us (repeat)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires But not these bloody despots
Mais ces complices de Bouillé These accomplices of Bouillé
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié, All these tigers who mercilessly
Déchirent le sein de leur mère ! Ripped out their mothers' breast!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...
Amour sacré de la Patrie, Sacred patriotic love,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs Lead and support our avenging arms
Liberté, Liberté chérie, Liberty, cherished liberty,
Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis) Fight back with your defenders! (repeat)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire Under our flags, let victory
Accoure à tes mâles accents, Hurry to your manly tone,
Que tes ennemis expirants So that your enemies, in their last breath,
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire ! See your triumph and our glory!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...
(Couplet des enfants) (Children's Verse)
Nous entrerons dans la carrière [2] We shall enter the career
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus When our elders will no longer be there
Nous y trouverons leur poussière There we shall find their dust
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis) And the mark of their virtues (repeat)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre Much less jealous of surviving them
Que de partager leur cercueil, Than of sharing their coffins,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil We shall have the sublime pride
De les venger ou de les suivre ! Of avenging or following them!
Aux armes, citoyens... To arms, citizens...


  1. The sentence (in French) is inverted, the non-literal translation is : "The bloody banner of tyranny is raised against/before us."
  2. "la carrière" ("the career"), that is, of being in the army. The seventh verse was not part of the original text; it was added in 1792 by an unknown author.

See alsoEdit

External linksEdit

Official French government sites Edit

Other sites Edit

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