La Marseillaise

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La Marseillaise
English: The Song of Marseille
Le Départ des Volontaires (La Marseillaise) par Rude, Arc de Triomphe Etoile Paris.jpg
La Marseillaise personified on the Arc de Triomphe.

National anthem of  France
LyricsClaude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, 1792
MusicClaude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, 1792
Music sample
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This article is about the French national anthem. For the sculpture, see Arc de Triomphe. For Russian Marseillaise, see Worker's Marseillaise.
La Marseillaise
English: The Song of Marseille
Le Départ des Volontaires (La Marseillaise) par Rude, Arc de Triomphe Etoile Paris.jpg
La Marseillaise personified on the Arc de Triomphe.

National anthem of  France
LyricsClaude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, 1792
MusicClaude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, 1792
Music sample
Sorry, your browser either has JavaScript disabled or does not have any supported player.
You can download the clip or download a player to play the clip in your browser.

"La Marseillaise" (French pronunciation: ​[la maʁsɛjɛz]) is the national anthem of France.

The song was written and composed in 1792 by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle in Strasbourg during the French Revolutionary Wars, and was originally titled "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin". The French National Convention adopted it as the Republic's anthem in 1795. It acquired its nickname after being sung in Paris by volunteers from Marseille marching on the capital.

The song is the first example of the "European march" anthemic style. The anthem's evocative melody and lyrics have led to its widespread use as a song of revolution and its incorporation into many pieces of classical and popular music (see below: Musical quotations). Cerulo says, "the design of 'La Marseillaise' is credited to General Strasbourg of France, who is said to have directed de Lisle, the composer of the anthem, to 'produce one of those hymns which conveys to the soul of the people the enthusiasm which it (the music) suggests.' "[1]


Rouget de Lisle, composer of the Marseillaise, sings it for the first time at the home of Dietrich, Mayor of Strasbourg (Musée historique de Strasbourg, published 1849, artist Isidore Pils)

As the French Revolution continued, the monarchies of Europe became concerned that revolutionary fervor would spread to their countries. The War of the First Coalition was an effort to stop the revolution, or at least contain it to France. Initially, the French army did not distinguish itself, and Coalition armies invaded France. On 25 April 1792, the mayor of Strasbourg requested his guest Rouget de Lisle compose a song "that will rally our soldiers from all over to defend their homeland that is under threat".[2] That evening, Rouget de Lisle wrote "Chant de guerre pour l'Armée du Rhin"[3] (English: "War Song for the Army of the Rhine"), and dedicated the song to Marshal Nicolas Luckner, a Bavarian in French service from Cham.[4] The melody soon became the rallying call to the French Revolution and was adopted as "La Marseillaise" after the melody was first sung on the streets by volunteers (fédérés in French) from Marseille by the end of May. These fédérés were making their entrance into the city of Paris on 30 July 1792 after a young volunteer from Montpellier called François Mireur had sung it at a patriotic gathering in Marseille, and the troops adopted it as the marching song of the National Guard of Marseille.[3] A newly graduated medical doctor, Mireur later became a general under Napoléon Bonaparte and died in Egypt at age 28.[citation needed]

The song's lyric reflects the invasion of France by foreign armies (from Prussia and Austria) that were under way when it was written. Strasbourg itself was attacked just a few days later. The invading forces were repulsed from France following their defeat in the Battle of Valmy. As the vast majority of Alsatians did not speak French, a German version ("Auf, Brüder, auf dem Tag entgegen") was published in October 1792 in Colmar.[5]

Général Mireur, 1770–1798, anonymous, terra cotta, Faculty of Medicine, Montpellier, France.

The Convention accepted it as the French national anthem in a decree passed on 14 July 1795, making it France's first anthem.[6] It later lost this status under Napoleon I, and the song was banned outright by Louis XVIII and Charles X, only being re-instated briefly after the July Revolution of 1830.[7] During Napoleon I's reign, "Veillons au Salut de l'Empire" was the unofficial anthem of the regime, and in Napoleon III's reign, it was "Partant pour la Syrie". During the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, "La Marseillaise" was recognised as the anthem of the international revolutionary movement; as such, it was adopted by the Paris Commune in 1871. Eight years later, in 1879, it was restored as France's national anthem, and has remained so ever since.[citation needed]


"La Marseillaise" was arranged for soprano, chorus and orchestra by Hector Berlioz in about 1830.[8]

Franz Liszt wrote a piano transcription of the anthem.[9]

During World War I, bandleader James Reese Europe played a jazz version of "La Marseillaise", which can be heard on Part 2 of the Ken Burns TV documentary Jazz.

Serge Gainsbourg recorded a reggae version in 1978, titled "Aux armes et cætera".[10]

Henrik Wergeland wrote a Norwegian song in 1831 called "For norge, kjaempers Fødeland" ("To Norway, Mother of the Brave"), which he called "The Norwegian Marseillaise".[11] The tune and lyrics are unrelated to the French original, however.[12]

In Peru and Chile, both the Partido Aprista Peruano ("La Marsellesa Aprista"),[13] and the Socialist Party of Chile ("La Marsellesa Socialista"),[14] wrote their own versions of "La Marseillaise" to be their anthems. Both use the original tune.[15]

Musical quotations[edit]

Musical antecedents[edit]

Several musical antecedents have been cited for the melody:


Only the first verse (and sometimes the fifth and sixth) 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 the official website of the French Presidency.[20]

Bold Is Selected Verses Of The Current Anthem

La Marseillaise

French lyricsEnglish translation
Allons enfants de la Patrie,Arise, 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)Raises its bloody banner (repeat)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnesDo you hear, in the countryside,
Mugir ces féroces soldats ?The roar of those ferocious soldiers?
Ils viennent jusque dans nos brasThey're coming right into your arms
Égorger nos fils, nos compagnes !To cut the throats of your sons and women!
Aux armes, citoyens,To arms, citizens,
Formez vos bataillons,Form your battalions,
Marchons, marchons !Let's march, let's march!
Qu'un sang impurLet an impure blood
Abreuve nos sillons ! (bis)Water our furrows! (Repeat)
Que veut cette horde d'esclaves,What does this horde of slaves,
De traîtres, de rois conjurés ?Of traitors and conjured kings want?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves,For whom are these vile chains,
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés ? (bis)These long-prepared irons? (repeat)
Français, pour nous, ah ! quel outrageFrenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter !What fury it must arouse!
C'est nous qu'on ose méditerIt 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 étrangèresWhat! Foreign cohorts
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers !Would make the law in our homes!
Quoi ! Ces phalanges mercenairesWhat! These mercenary phalanxes
Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis)Would strike down our proud warriors! (repeat)
Grand Dieu ! Par des mains enchaînéesGreat God ! By chained hands
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraientOur brows would yield under the yoke
De vils despotes deviendraientVile despots would have themselves
Les maîtres de nos destinées !The masters of our destinies!
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfidesTremble, tyrants and you traitors
L'opprobre de tous les partis,The shame of all parties,
Tremblez ! vos projets parricidesTremble! Your parricidal schemes
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix ! (bis)Will finally receive their reward! (repeat)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre,Everyone is a soldier to combat you
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros,If they fall, our young heroes,
La terre en produit de nouveaux,The earth will produce new ones,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre !Ready to fight against you!
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Français, en guerriers magnanimes,Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors,
Portez ou retenez vos coups !You bear or hold back your blows!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes,You spare those sorry victims,
À regret s'armant contre nous. (bis)Who arm against us with regret. (repeat)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,But not these bloodthirsty 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 !Rip their mother's breast!
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Amour sacré de la Patrie,Sacred love of the Fatherland,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeursLead, support our avenging arms
Liberté, Liberté chérie,Liberty, cherished Liberty,
Combats avec tes défenseurs ! (bis)Fight with thy defenders! (repeat)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoireUnder our flags, shall victory
Accoure à tes mâles accents,Hurry to thy manly accents,
Que tes ennemis expirantsThat thy expiring enemies,
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire !See thy triumph and our glory!
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
(Couplet des enfants)(Children's Verse)
Nous entrerons dans la carrière[21]We shall enter the (military) career
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,When our elders are no longer there,
Nous y trouverons leur poussièreThere we shall find their dust
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)And the trace of their virtues (repeat)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivreMuch less keen to survive them
Que de partager leur cercueil,Than to share their coffins,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueilWe shall have the sublime pride
De les venger ou de les suivreOf avenging or following them
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
English versification, public domain[22]

Ye sons of France, awake to glory,
Hark, hark! what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives and white-haired grandsires.
Behold their tears and hear their cries! (repeat)
Shall hateful tyrants, mischiefs breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band,
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding?
To arms, to arms, ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolv'd
On victory or death!
Now, now, the dangerous storm is rolling
Which treacherous kings confederate raise!
The dogs of war, let loose, are howling,
And lo! our fields and cities blaze! (repeat)
alt: And lo! our homes will soon invade!
And shall we basely view the ruin
While lawless force with guilty stride
Spreads desolation far and wide
With crimes and blood his hands embruing?
To arms, to arms, ye brave!...
With luxury and pride surrounded
The vile insatiate despots dare,
Their thirst of power and gold unbounded,
To mete and vend the light and air! (repeat)
Like beasts of burden would they load us,
Like gods would bid their slaves adore,
But man is man, and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us?
To arms, to arms, ye brave!...
O Liberty, can man resign thee
Once having felt thy generous flame?
Can dungeons, bolts or bars confine thee
Or whips thy noble spirit tame? (repeat)
Too long the world has wept, bewailing
That falsehood's dagger tyrants wield,
But freedom is our sword and shield,
And all their arts are unavailing.
To arms, to arms, ye brave!...

Additional verses[edit]

These verses were omitted from the national anthem .

La Marseillaise

French lyricsEnglish translation
Dieu de clémence et de justiceGod of mercy and justice
Vois nos tyrans, juge nos coeursSee our tyrants, judge our hearts
Que ta bonté nous soit propiceThy goodness be with us
Défends-nous de ces oppresseurs (bis)Defend us from these oppressors (repeat)
Tu règnes au ciel et sur terreYou reign in heaven and on earth
Et devant Toi, tout doit fléchirAnd before You all must bend
De ton bras, viens nous soutenirIn your arms, come support us
Toi, grand Dieu, maître du tonnerre.You Great God, Lord of the thunder.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Peuple français, connais ta gloire ;French people know thy glory
Couronné par l’Égalité,Crowned by Equality,
Quel triomphe, quelle victoire,What a triumph, what a victory,
D’avoir conquis la Liberté ! (bis)To have won Freedom! (repeat)
Le Dieu qui lance le tonnerreThe God who throws thunder
Et qui commande aux éléments,And who commands the elements,
Pour exterminer les tyrans,To exterminate the tyrants
Se sert de ton bras sur la terre.Uses your arm on the ground.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Nous avons de la tyrannieOf tyranny, we have
Repoussé les derniers efforts;Rebuffed the final efforts;
De nos climats, elle est bannie ;In our climate, it is banished;
Chez les Français les rois sont morts. (bis)In France the kings are dead. (repeat)
Vive à jamais la République !Forever live the Republic!
Anathème à la royauté !Anathema to royalty!
Que ce refrain, partout porté,That this refrain worn everywhere,
Brave des rois la politique.Defies the politics of kings.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
La France que l’Europe admireFrance that Europe admires
A reconquis la LibertéHas regained Liberty
Et chaque citoyen respireAnd every citizen breathes
Sous les lois de l’Égalité ; (bis)Under the laws of Equality, (repeat)
Un jour son image chérieOne day its beloved image
S’étendra sur tout l’univers.Will extend throughout the universe.
Peuples, vous briserez vos fersPeople, you will break your chains
Et vous aurez une Patrie !And you will have a Fatherland!
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Foulant aux pieds les droits de l’Homme,Trampling on the rights of man,
Les soldatesques légionssoldierly legions
Des premiers habitants de RomeThe first inhabitants of Rome
Asservirent les nations. (bis)enslave nations. (repeat)
Un projet plus grand et plus sageA larger project and wiser
Nous engage dans les combatsWe engage in battle
Et le Français n’arme son brasAnd the Frenchman does not arm himself
Que pour détruire l’esclavage.But to destroy slavery.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
Oui ! Déjà d’insolents despotesYes! Already insolent despots
Et la bande des émigrésAnd the band of emigrants
Faisant la guerre aux Sans-CulottesWaging war on the unclothed (lit. without-breeches)
Par nos armes sont altérés; (bis)By our weapons are withered; (repeat)
Vainement leur espoir se fondeVainly their hope is based
Sur le fanatisme irrité,On piqued fanaticism
Le signe de la LibertéThe sign of Liberty
Fera bientôt le tour du monde.Will soon spread around the world.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
À vous ! Que la gloire environne,To you! Let glory surround
Citoyens, illustres guerriers,Citizens, illustrious warriors,
Craignez, dans les champs de Bellone,Fear in the fields of Bellona,
Craignez de flétrir vos lauriers ! (bis)Fear the sullying of your laurels! (repeat)
Aux noirs soupçons inaccessiblesAs for dark unfounded suspicions
Envers vos chefs, vos généraux,Towards your leaders, your generals,
Ne quittez jamais vos drapeaux,Never leave your flags,
Et vous resterez invincibles.And you will remain invincible.
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...
(Couplet des enfants)(Children's Verse)
Enfants, que l’Honneur, la PatrieChildren, let Honour and Fatherland
Fassent l’objet de tous nos vœux !be the object of all our wishes!
Ayons toujours l’âme nourrieLet us always have souls nourished
Des feux qu’ils inspirent tous deux. (bis)With fires that might inspire both. (repeat)
Soyons unis ! Tout est possible ;Let us be united! Anything is possible;
Nos vils ennemis tomberont,Our vile enemies will fall,
Alors les Français cesserontThen the French will cease
De chanter ce refrain terrible :To sing this fierce refrain:
Aux armes, citoyens...To arms, citizens...

Historical use in Russia[edit]

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In Russia, La Marseillaise was used as a republican revolutionary anthem by those who knew French starting in the 18th century, almost simultaneously with its adoption in France. In 1875 Peter Lavrov, a narodist revolutionary and theorist, wrote a Russian-language text (not a translation of the French one) to the same melody. This "Worker's Marseillaise" became one of the most popular revolutionary songs in Russia and was used in the Revolution of 1905. After the February Revolution of 1917, it was used as the semi-official national anthem of the new Russian republic. Even after the October Revolution, it remained in use for a while alongside The Internationale.[23]

Criticism and controversy[edit]

Valéry Giscard d'Estaing, a former President of France, has said that it is ridiculous to sing about drenching French fields with impure Prussian blood as a German Chancellor takes the salute in Paris.[24] A 1992 campaign to change the words of the song involving more than 100 prominent French citizens, including Danielle Mitterrand, wife of the then-President François Mitterrand, was unsuccessful.[25]

In popular culture[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Karen A. Cerulo, "Symbols and the world system: national anthems and flags." Sociological Forum (1993) 8#2 pp. 243–271.
  2. ^ "La Marseillaise". National Assembly of France. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Weber, Eugen (1 June 1976). Peasants Into Frenchmen: The Modernization of Rural France, 1870–1914. Stanford University Press. p. 439. ISBN 978-0-8047-1013-8. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  4. ^ Stevens, Benjamin F. (January 1896). "Story of La Marseillaise". The Musical Record (Boston, Massachusetts: Oliver Ditson Company) (408): 2. Retrieved 24 April 2012. 
  5. ^ Wochenblatt, dem Unterricht des Landvolks gewidmet, Colmar 1792 [1].
  6. ^ Mould, Michael (2011). The Routledge Dictionary of Cultural References in Modern French. New York: Taylor & Francis. p. 147. ISBN 978-1-136-82573-6. Retrieved 23 November 2011. 
  7. ^ Modern History Sourcebook: La Marseillaise, 1792.
  8. ^ Willaim Apthorp (1879) Hector Berlioz; Selections from His Letters, and Aesthetic, Humorous, and Satirical Writings, Henry Holt, New York
  9. ^ L.J. de Bekker (1909) Stokes' Encyclopedia of Music and Musicians, Frederick Stokes, New York
  10. ^ "SCANDALES DU XXe SIÈCLE - Gainsbourg métisse 'La Marseillaise' " (September 1, 2006) Le Monde, Paris (French)
  11. ^ E. John B. Allen (2007) The Culture and Sport of Skiing: From Antiquity to World War II, University of Massachusetts Press
  12. ^ Recording of "For norge, kjaempers Fødeland" at the Library of Congress
  13. ^ "La Marsellesa Aprista", Partido Aprista Peruano, Official Website
  14. ^ Boletín del Comité Central del PSCH N°34-35, April–May, 1973.
  15. ^ YouTube
  16. ^ Described and played on BBC Radio 3's CD Review program (14 January 2012)
  17. ^
  18. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Marseillaise". The American Cyclopædia. 1879.  See also Geschichte eines deutschen Liedes at German Wikisource.
  19. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg "Marseillaise". New International Encyclopedia. 1905. 
  20. ^ La Marseillaise, l’Elysée.
  21. ^ The seventh verse was not part of the original text; it was added in 1792 by an unknown author.
  22. ^ Library of Congress
  23. ^ Соболева, Н.А. 2005. Из истории отечественных государственных гимнов. Журнал "Отечественная история", 1. P.10-12
  24. ^ Bremner, Charles (14 May 2014). "Cannes star denounces ‘racist’ Marseillaise at festival opening". The Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  25. ^ Riding, Alan (5 March 1992). "Aux Barricades! 'La Marseillaise' Is Besieged". The New York Times. Retrieved 14 May 2014. 
  26. ^
  27. ^ Günther, Dionysios Solomos. Übers. und kommentiert von Hans-Christian (2000). Werke. Stuttgart: Steiner. p. 222. ISBN 978-3-515-07249-6. 
  28. ^ Balkan studies: biannual publication of the Institute for Balkan Studies. 1999. p. 101. 
  29. ^ "De lijdensweg van de regering-Leterme" (in Dutch). VRT web site 19 December 2008. Retrieved 29 August 2011.  "Op 21 juli, de nationale feestdag, giet Leterme dan nog eens ongewild olie op het vuur door de Marseillaise te zingen in plaats van de Brabançonne."

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]