The Marseillaise



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Roget de Lisle, composer of The Marseillaise

 Read the Lyrics

Play the song Play Marseillaise

La Marseillaise was composed in one night during the French Revolution (April 24, 1792) by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, a captain of the engineers and amateur musician. It was performed at a patriotic banquet at Marseilles, and printed copies were given to the soldiers who were marching to Paris. They entered Paris singing this song, and it became a popular marching tune. It was originally called Chant de guerre de l'armee du Rhin (War Song of the Army of the Rhine) but the Parisians called it La Marseillaise because it was sung by the soldiers from Marseilles. (And it's a lot easier to say.) 

The composer himself was not a revolutionary. He wrote the song to encourage the French troops who were fighting France's enemies abroad. But he never supported the Revolution at home.  In fact he spent some time in prison and just barely escaped the guillotine. Ironically his song became the anthem of the revolution, and in 1795, the national anthem.

It was so revolutionary, in fact,  that Napoleon and Louis XVIII both banned it. It was briefly restored after the July Revolution of 1830 but was banned again by Napoleon III. It was not allowed until 1879 and didn't become the official national anthem again until 1946.

French Lyrics 

English Lyrics 

  1

    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 ! 

  1

Arise children of the fatherland
The day of glory has arrived
Against us tyranny's
Bloody standard is raised
Listen to the sound in the fields
The howling of these fearsome soldiers
They are coming into our midst
To cut the throats of your sons and consorts

    REFRAIN 

    Aux armes, citoyens, 
    Formez vos bataillons, 
    Marchons, marchons ! 
    Qu'un sang impur 
    Abreuve nos sillons ! 

CHORUS

To arms, citizens
Form you battalions
March, march!
Let impure blood
Water our furrows! 

    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 ! 

 2

What do they want this horde of slaves
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 we they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

To arms, etc.. 

    Quoi ! des cohortes étrangères 
    Feraient la loi dans nos foyers ! 
    Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires 
    Terrasseraient nos fiers guerriers ! (bis) 
    Grand Dieu ! par des mains enchaînées 
    Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient 
    De vils despotes deviendraient 
    Les maîtres de nos destinées ! 

 

  3

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

To arms, etc.. 

    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 terre en produit de nouveaux, 
    Contre vous tout prêts à se battre ! 

4

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 heros
France will bear new ones
Ready to join the fight against you

To arms, etc.. 

  5 

    Français, en guerriers magnanimes, 
    Portez ou retenez vos coups ! 
    Epargnez 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 ! 

5

Frenchmen, as magnanimous warriors
Bear or hold back your wounds
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 pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers' wombs

To arms, etc.. 

  6 

    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 ! 

6

We shall enter into the pit
When our elders will no longer be there
There we shall find their ashes
And the mark of their virtues
We are much less jealous of surviving them
Than of sharing their coffins
We shall have the sublime pride
Of avenging or joining them

To arms, etc.. 

7

    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 

7

Drive on sacred patriotism
Support our avenging arms
Liberty, cherished liberty
Join the struggle with your defenders
Under our flags, let victory
Hurry to your evil tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!

To arms, etc.. 

Spreading the Gospel of Revolution

Part of Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité: The French Revolution Exhibit

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