What are the lyrics to Britain’s national anthem and who composed it?

11 September 2022, 23:15 | Updated: 21 September 2022, 09:09

Classic FM

By Classic FM

‘God Save the King/Queen’ is one of the world’s best known anthems. But did you know it has another five verses? Here’s all you need to know.

‘God Save the King/Queen’ is the British national anthem, as well as that of all Commonwealth realms, their territories, and the Crown Dependencies in the British isles.

The words used today substitute ‘King’ for ‘Queen’ where appropriate. At official occasions, usually only the first verse is sung.

What are the lyrics to ‘God Save the King/Queen’?

At most official occasions, either the first verse alone, or the first and final verse, of the anthem are sung, with the middle three verses omitted.

God save our gracious King,
Long live our noble King,
God save the King!
Send him victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us,
God save the King!

O Lord our God arise,
Scatter our enemies,
And make them fall!
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all!

Not in this land alone,
But be God’s mercies known,
From shore to shore!
Lord make the nations see,
That men should brothers be,
And form one family,
The wide world o’er.

From every latent foe,
From the assassins blow,
God save the King!
O’er his thine arm extend,
For Britain’s sake defend,
Our father, prince, and friend,
God save the King!

Thy choicest gifts in store,
On him be pleased to pour,
Long may he reign!
May he defend our laws,
And ever give us cause,
To sing with heart and voice,
God save the King!

Read more: The best national anthems in the world

Who composed ‘God Save the King/Queen’?

The composer of the UK and Commonwealth national anthem is unknown. It was adopted as an anthem in September 1745, during the reign of George II (1727 – 1760).

Read more: What will the national anthem be when Charles III is proclaimed King?

King Charles III attends the Committal Service for Queen Elizabeth II at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle
King Charles III attends the Committal Service for Queen Elizabeth II at St George's Chapel, Windsor Castle. Picture: Getty

Has ‘God save the King/Queen’ always been Britain’s national anthem?

When ‘God Save the King’ was adopted in 1745, the lyrics were:

God save great George our king, God save our noble king, God save the king! Send him victorious, Happy and glorious, Long to reign over us, God save the king!

However, the third and fourth words were soon changed to ‘gracious’ after they realised that William IV and Victoria’s names (who succeeded George IV) didn’t scan.

Read more: Why ‘Jerusalem’ is played for winning English athletes at the Commonwealth Games

Which countries sing ‘God Save the Queen’?

‘God Save the Queen’ or ‘God Save the King’ is the national anthem in the UK, British Crown dependencies, a number of Commonwealth realms and their territories.