God Defend New Zealand

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God Defend New Zealand is one of the national anthems of New Zealand, together with God Save the Queen. Although they both have equal status, only God Defend New Zealand is used, and most New Zealanders would be unaware that the country has two national anthems.

The New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage has responsibility for the national anthems. See their web page at http://www.cultureandheritage.govt.nz/anthem/index.htm.

History

The words for God Defend New Zealand were written as a poem in the 1870s by Thomas Bracken. A competition to compose music for the poem was held in 1876, with a prize of ten guineas. The winner of the competition was John Joseph Woods, who had composed the melody in a single sitting the evening after finding out about the competition.

The song became increasingly popular during the 19th century and early 20th century, and in 1940, the New Zealand government bought the copyright and made it New Zealand's national hymn in time for the centennial celebrations. In 1976, a petition was presented to parliament asking for it to be made the national anthem, and with the permission of Queen Elizabeth II, it became the country's second national anthem on November 21, 1977.

Lyrics

God Defend New Zealand has five verses, each in English and translated into Māori. Commonly, only the first verse is sung, either in English or in Māori followed by same verse in English. The second verse may also be sung, but the last three are rarely used.

English Lyrics
God of nations at Thy feet,
In the bonds of love we meet,
Hear our voices, we entreat,
God defend our free land.
Guard Pacific's triple star,
From the shafts of strife and war,
Make her praises heard afar,
God defend New Zealand.
Men of ev'ry creed and race,
Gather here before Thy face,
Asking Thee to bless this place,
God defend our free land.
From dissension, envy, hate,
And corruption guard our State,
Make our country good and great,
God defend New Zealand.
Peace, not war, shall be our boast
But, should foes assail our coast,
Make us then a mighty host,
God defend our free land.
Lord of battles, in Thy might,
Put our enemies to flight,
Let our cause be just and right,
God defend New Zealand.
Let our love for Thee increase,
May Thy blessings never cease,
Give us plenty, give us peace,
God defend our free land.
From dishonour and from shame,
Guard our country's spotless name,
Crown her with immortal fame,
God defend New Zealand.
May our mountains ever be,
Freedom's ramparts on the sea,
Make us faithful unto thee,
God defend our free land.
Guide her in the nations' van,
Preaching love and truth to man,
Working out Thy Glorious plan,
God defend New Zealand.

Copyright on the English lyrics for God Defend New Zealand expired in 1948, fifty years after the death of the author. However, the translated Māori lyrics were commissioned in 1979, and are under New Zealand Crown copyright until 2079.


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