La Marseillaise

From Academic Kids

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

"La Marseillaise" is the national anthem of France.



"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). It became the rallying call of the French Revolution and was so-called because it was first sung on the streets by troops (fédérés) from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris.

Now the national anthem of France, it was in its earliest years the anthem of the international revolutionary movement. After the rise of centralized Communism, the song was largely replaced by "The Internationale" as the unifying song of the international Left. It was the anthem of the Paris Commune. Because great numbers of people on the left around the world, particularly anarchists took inspiration from the Commune, it became an international symbol of leftism. For instance, in Chicago the Haymarket Martyrs went to their deaths singing the song. In 1917, after the collapse of the tsarist regime "La Marseillaise" and "The Internationale" were both used as national anthems of Russia. However, in a couple years "The Internationale" gradually prevailed and became the only anthem. The Russian lyrics of "Marseillaise", "Otrechemsya ot starogo mira", is very different from the French lyrics; both French and Russian lyrics were sung in Russia.

The song was banned in Vichy France and German occupied areas during World War II and singing it was an act of resistance (see also Chant des Partisans).

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

In France itself, the anthem (and particularly the lyrics) has become a somewhat controversial issue since the 1970s. Some consider it militaristic and xenophobic, and many propositions have been made to change the anthem or the lyrics. However, "La Marseillaise" has been associated throughout history with the French Republic and its values, making a change unlikely.

Recently, and despite the lyrics, it was largely sung by anti-racist protesters after the accession of Jean-Marie Le Pen to the second turn of presidential election in 2002.

Unofficial versions


The song was part of a famous scene in the film Casablanca in which French resistance sympathizers 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". [1] (


There are various versions of the music. Sheet music can be found at [2] ( An official version from the website of the French President is available as a MIDI file.


Note only the first verse (and sometimes the 6th and 7th) and the first chorus are sung nowadays in France.

French lyrics

Couplet I
Allons enfants de la Patrie,
Le jour de gloire est arrivé!
Contre nous de la tyrannie,
L'étendard sanglant est levé, (bis)
Entendez-vous dans les campagnes
Mugir ces féroces soldats?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras
Egorger vos fils et vos compagnes!
Aux armes, citoyens,
Formez vos batallions,
Marchons, marchons!
Qu'un sang impur
Abreuve nos sillons!
Couplet II
Que veut cette horde d'esclaves
De traîtres, de rois conjurés?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves
Ces fers dès longtemps préparés? (bis)
Français, pour nous, ah! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter?
C'est nous qu'on ose méditer
De rendre à l'antique esclavage!
Couplet III
Quoi ces cohortes étrangères!
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers!
Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fils guerriers! (bis)
Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maîtres des destinées.
Couplet IV
Tremblez, tyrans et vous perfides
L'opprobre de tous les partis
Tremblez ! vos projets parricides
Vont enfin recevoir leurs prix! (bis)
Tout est soldat pour vous combattre
S'ils tombent, nos jeunes héros
La France en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prêts à se battre
Couplet V
Français, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups!
Épargnez ces tristes victimes
A regret s'armant contre nous (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de Bouillé
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitié
Déchirent le sein de leur mère!
Couplet VI
Amour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
Liberté, Liberté chérie,
Combats avec tes défenseurs! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux que la victoire
Accoure à tes mâles accents,
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire!
Couplet VII
Nous entrerons dans la carrière
Quand nos aînés n'y seront plus,
Nous y trouverons leur poussière
Et la trace de leurs vertus (bis)
Bien moins jaloux de leur survivre
Que de partager leur cercueil,
Nous aurons le sublime orgueil
De les venger ou de les suivre!

English Translation

Verse I
Arise children of our fatherland,
[For] the day of glory has arrived!
Against us, tyranny,
Has raised its bloody flag, (1)
Do you hear in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers?
They are coming into your midst
To slit the throats of your sons and wives!
To arms, citizens!
Form your battalions!
March, march!
Let impure blood
Soak the furrows [of our fields]
Verse II
What does this horde of slaves want,
Of traitors and conspiratorial kings?
For whom these vile chains
These long-prepared irons?
Frenchmen, for us, ah! What outrage
What methods must be taken?
It is us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!
Verse III
What! These foreign cohorts!
They would make laws in our courts!
What! These mercenary phalanxes
Would cut down our warrior sons
Good Lord! By chained hands
Our brow would yield under the yoke
The vile despots would have themselves be
The masters of destiny
Verse IV
Tremble, tyrants and traitors
The shame of all good men
Tremble! Your parricidal schemes
Will receive their just reward
Against you we are all soldiers
If they fall, our young heroes
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you
Verse V
Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your blows
Spare these sad victims
That they regret taking up arms against us
But not these bloody despots
These accomplices of Bouillé
All these tigers who mercilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs
Verse VI
Sacred patriotic love
Lead [and] support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Fight [back] with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your manly tone
So that your enemies, in their last breath [before death]
See your triumph and our glory!
Verse VII
We shall enter into the excavation
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes [lit. dust]
And the mark of their virtues
[We are] Much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
[For] We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining [lit. following] them

(1) The sentence (in French) is inverted, the non-literal translation is : "The bloody banner of tyranny is raised against/before us"

External links

Official French government sites

  • French President website (
  • Foreign affairs website (

Other sites

cs:Francouzská hymna da:Marseillaisen de:Marseillaise et:Marseljees es:La Marsellesa eo:Marseljezo fa:سرود مارسییز fr:La Marseillaise it:La Marseillaise he:המארסיז lb:La Marseillaise hu:Francia himnusz mg:La Marseillaise nl:Marseillaise ja:フランスの国歌 pl:Hymn Francji pt:Hino nacional da França ro:La Marseillaise ru:Марсельеза sl:Marseljeza sr:Марсељеза sv:Marseljäsen uk:Марсельєза zh:馬賽曲


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