"La Brabançonne" (French: [la bʁabɑ̃sɔn] (La Brabançonne); Dutch: "De Brabançonne"; German: "Das Lied von Brabant") is the national anthem of Belgium. The originally French title refers to the Duchy of Brabant; the name is usually untranslated in Belgium's other two official languages, Dutch and German.[a]

La Brabançonne
English: The Brabantian
Cover of a score of the Brabançonne, dated around 1910

National anthem of Belgium
LyricsAlexandre Dechet and Constantin Rodenbach (original version, 1830)
Charles Rogier (current version, 1860)
MusicFrançois van Campenhout, September 1830
Adopted1860, current text in 1921
Audio sample
U.S. Navy Band instrumental version

History

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Monument for the anthem in Brussels

According to legend, the Belgian national anthem was written in September 1830, during the Belgian Revolution, by a young revolutionary called "Jenneval", who read the lyrics during a meeting at the Aigle d'Or café.

Jenneval, a Frenchman whose real name was Alexandre Dechet (sometimes known as Louis-Alexandre Dechet), wrote the Brabançonne. At the time, he was an actor at the theatre where, in August 1830, the revolution started, which led to independence from the Netherlands. Jenneval died in the war of independence. François van Campenhout composed the accompanying score, based on the tune of a French song called "L'Air des lanciers polonais" ("the tune of the Polish Lancers"), written by the French poet Eugène de Pradel, whose tune was itself an adaptation of the tune of a song, "L'Air du magistrat irréprochable", found in a popular collection of drinking songs called La Clé du caveau (The Key to the cellar)[1][2] and it was first performed in September 1830.

In 1860, Belgium formally adopted the song and music as its national anthem, although the then prime minister, Charles Rogier edited out lyrics attacking the Dutch House of Orange, inspired by the version written by Louis Hymans.[3]

The Brabançonne is also a monument (1930) by the sculptor Charles Samuel on the Surlet de Chokier square in Brussels. The monument contains partial lyrics of both the French and Dutch versions of the anthem. Like many elements in Belgian folklore, this is mainly based on the French "La Marseillaise" which is also both an anthem and the name of a monument – the sculptural group Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, commonly called La Marseillaise, at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Lyrics

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Score of the Brabançonne
 
Lithograph of Jenneval
 
Lithograph of Campenhout singing the Brabançonne

1830 original lyrics

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First version (August 1830)

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Second version (September 1830)

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Third version (1860)

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Current version

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Various committees were charged with reviewing the text and tune of the Brabançonne and establishing an official version. A ministerial circular of the Ministry of the Interior on 8 August 1921 decreed that only the fourth verse of the text by Charles Rogier should be considered official for all three, French, German and in Dutch. Here below:

French (La Brabançonne) IPA transcription[e] English translation

Noble Belgique, ô mère chérie,
À toi nos cœurs, à toi nos bras,
À toi notre sang, ô Patrie !
Nous le jurons tous, tu vivras !
Tu vivras toujours grande et belle
Et ton invincible unité
𝄆 Aura pour devise immortelle :
Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté ! 𝄇
𝄆 Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté ! 𝄇

[nɔ.blœ bɛl.ʒi.kœ | o mɛ.ʁø ʃe.ʁi.œ]
[a twa no kœʁ | a twa no bʁa]
[a twa nɔ.tʁœ sɑ̃ | o pa.tʁi.œ ǁ]
[nu lø ʒy.ʁɔ̃ tus | ty vi.vʁa ǁ]
[ty vi.vʁa tu.ʒuʁ ɡʁɑ̃d‿e bɛ.lœ]
[e tɔ̃ ɛ̃.vɛ̃.sibl‿y.ni.te]
𝄆 [o.ʁa puʁ dø.vi.z(ø)(‿)i.mɔʁ.tɛ.lœ |]
[lø ʁwa | la lwa | la li.bɛʁ.te ǁ] 𝄇
𝄆 [lø ʁwa | la lwa | la li.bɛʁ.te ǁ] 𝄇

Noble Belgium, O dear mother
To you our hearts, to you our arms,
To you our blood, O Fatherland!
We all swear, you shall live!
You shall always live great and beautiful,
And your invincible unity
𝄆 Shall have as an immortal motto:
The King, the Law, Liberty! 𝄇
𝄆 The King, the Law, Liberty! 𝄇

Dutch (De Brabançonne) IPA transcription[f] English translation

O dierbaar België, O heilig land der Vaad'ren,
Onze ziel en ons hart zijn u gewijd.
Aanvaard ons kracht en het bloed van onze ad'ren,
Wees ons doel in arbeid en in strijd.
Bloei, o land, in eendracht niet te breken;
Wees immer uzelf en ongeknecht,
𝄆 Het woord getrouw, dat g' onbevreesd moogt spreken,
Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht! 𝄇
𝄆 Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht! 𝄇

[oː(w) ˈdiːr.baːr ˈbɛɫ.ɣ(i)jø̜ | oː(w) ˈɦɛi̯.ləx lɑn‿dɛr ˈvaː.drən |]
[ˈɔn.zø̜ ziɫ ɛn ɔns ɦɑrt zɛi̯n y ɣø̜.ˈʋɛi̯t ǁ]
[aːn.ˈvaːrt ɔns krɑxt ɛn ɦø̜t blut vɑn ˈɔn.zø̜ ˈaː.drən |]
[ʋeː(i̯)s ɔns dul ɪn ˈɑr.bɛi̯t ɛn ɪn strɛi̯t ǁ]
[blui̯ | oː(w) lɑnt | ɪn ˈeː(i̯)n.drɑxt nit tø̜ ˈbreː(i̯).kən |]
[ʋeː(i̯)s ˈɪ.mø̜r y.ˈzɛɫf ɛn ˌɔn.ɣø̜.ˈknɛxt |]
𝄆 [ɦət ʋoːrt ɣø̜.ˈtrɑu | dɑt ɣ(ø̜)(‿)ɔn.bø̜.ˈvreː(i̯)st moː(w)xt ˈspreː(i̯).kən |]
[voːr vɔrst | voːr ˈvrɛi.ɦɛi̯t ɛn voːr rɛxt ǁ] 𝄇
𝄆 [voːr vɔrst | voːr ˈvrɛi.ɦɛi̯t ɛn voːr rɛxt ǁ] 𝄇

O dear Belgium, O holy land of the fathers,
Our soul and our heart are devoted to you.
Accept our strength and the blood in our veins,
Be our goal in labour and in strife.
Prosper, O land, in unbreakable unity;
Always be yourself and unenslaved,
𝄆 Faithful to the word that you may speak fearlessly,
For King, for Freedom and for Justice! 𝄇
For King, for Freedom and for Justice! 𝄇

German (Die Brabançonne) IPA transcription[g] English translation

O liebes Land, o Belgiens Erde,
Dir unser Herz, Dir unsere Hand,
Dir unser Blut, o Heimaterde,
wir schwören's Dir, o Vaterland!
So blühe froh in voller Schöne,
zu der die Freiheit Dich erzog,
𝄆 und fortan singen Deine Söhne:
Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch! 𝄇
𝄆 Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch! 𝄇

[oː ˈliː.bəs lant | oː ˈbɛl.ɡi̯əns ˈʔeːɐ̯.də |]
[diːɐ̯ ˈʔʊn.zɐ hɛɐ̯t͡s | diːɐ̯ ˈʔʊn.zʁə hant | ]
[diːɐ̯ ˈʔʊn.zɐ bluːt | oː ˈhaɪ̯.ma(ː)t.ʔeːɐ̯.də |]
[viːɐ̯ ˈʃvøː.ʁəns diːɐ̯ | oː ˈfaː.tɐˌlant ǁ]
[zoː ˈblyː.ə fʁoː ʔɪn ˈfɔ.lɐ ˈʃøː.nə |]
[t͡suː deːɐ̯ diː ˈfʁaɪ̯.haɪ̯t dɪç ʔɛɐ̯.ˈt͡soːk |]
𝄆 [ʔʊnt fɔʁt.ˈʔan ˈzɪŋ.ən ˈdaɪ̯.nə ˈzøː.nə |]
[ɡə.ˈzɛts ʊnt ˈkøː.nɪç ʔʊn‿diː ˈfʁaɪ̯.haɪ̯t hoːx ǁ] 𝄇
𝄆 [ɡə.ˈzɛts ʊnt ˈkøː.nɪç ʔʊn‿diː ˈfʁaɪ̯.haɪ̯t hoːx ǁ] 𝄇

O dear country, O Belgium's soil;
To you our heart, to you our hand,
To you our blood, O homeland,
We swear it to you, O fatherland!
So bloom happily in full beauty,
To which freedom has raised you,
𝄆 And henceforth your sons sing:
Law and King and Freedom high! 𝄇
𝄆 Law and King and Freedom high! 𝄇

Modern short trilingual version

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In recent years, an unofficial short version of the anthem is sung during Belgian National Day on 21 July each year, combining the words of the anthem in all three of Belgium's official languages, similar to the bilingual version of "O Canada".[4] The lyrics are from the 4th verse of the anthem.

Language No. Line IPA transcription[e][f][g] Translation
Dutch 1 O dierbaar België, O heilig land der Vaad'ren, [oː(w) ˈdiːr.baːr ˈbɛɫ.ɣ(i)jø̜ | oː(w) ˈɦɛi̯.ləx lɑn‿dɛr ˈvaː.drən |] O dear Belgium, O holy land of the fathers –
2 Onze ziel en ons hart zijn u gewijd. [ˈɔn.zø̜ ziɫ ɛn ɔns ɦɑrt zɛi̯n y ɣø̜.ˈʋɛi̯t ǁ] Our soul and our heart are devoted to you!
French 3 À toi notre sang, ô Patrie ! [a twa nɔ.tʁœ sɑ̃ | o pa.tʁi.œ ǁ] With blood to spill for you, O fatherland!
4 Nous le jurons tous, tu vivras ! [nu lø ʒy.ʁɔ̃ tus | ty vi.vʁa ǁ] We swear with one cry – You shall live!
German 5 So blühe froh in voller Schöne, [zoː ˈblyː.ə fʁoː ʔɪn ˈfɔ.lɐ ˈʃøː.nə |] So gladly bloom in beauty full,
6 zu der die Freiheit Dich erzog, [t͡suː deːɐ̯ diː ˈfʁaɪ̯.haɪ̯t dɪç ʔɛɐ̯.ˈt͡soːk |] Into what freedom has taught you to be,
7 und fortan singen Deine Söhne: [ʔʊnt fɔʁt.ˈʔan ˈzɪŋ.ən ˈdaɪ̯.nə ˈzøː.nə |] And evermore shall sing your sons:
French 8 Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté ! [lø ʁwa | la lwa | la li.bɛʁ.te ǁ] The King, the Law, the Liberty!
Dutch 9 Het woord getrouw, dat g' onbevreesd moogt spreken, [ɦət ʋoːrt ɣø̜.ˈtrɑu | dɑt ɣ‿ɔn.bø̜.ˈvreː(i̯)st moː(w)xt ˈspreː(i̯).kən |] Faithful to the word that you may speak boldly,
10 Voor Vorst, voor Vrijheid en voor Recht! [voːr vɔrst | voːr ˈvrɛi.ɦɛi̯t ɛn voːr rɛxt ǁ] For King, for Freedom and for Law!
German 11 Gesetz und König und die Freiheit hoch! [ɡə.ˈzɛts ʊnt ˈkøː.nɪç ʔʊn‿diː ˈfʁaɪ̯.haɪ̯t hoːx ǁ] To Law and King and Freedom, hail!
French 12 Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté ! [lø ʁwa | la lwa | la li.bɛʁ.te ǁ] The King, the Law, the Liberty!

2007 Yves Leterme incident

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On the 2007 Belgian national day (21 July), Flemish politician Yves Leterme, who would become Prime Minister two years later, was asked by a reporter from the RTBF if he knew the lyrics of the Brabançonne[5], whereupon he began to sing La Marseillaise, the French national anthem, instead of La Brabançonne.[6] The song is not taught in Belgian schools and most people do not know them.

See also

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Notes

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  1. ^ In English, one may refer to Brabant by the adjectives Brabantine or Brabantian, but only the latter term is (nearly) as general as French Brabançonfr, which can also be a substantive for e.g. the dialect, a man, or a horse or its breed from Brabant. In French, Brabançonne is the feminine gender of adjective Brabançon and matches the preceding definite article la, thus might fit an implied e.g. chanson, ('song') (cf. the official name of the French hymn: "la Marseillaise", "(song) having to do with the city of Marseille"). But neither the female definite article in German die Brabançonnede nor the male den Brabançonne in Brabantian or Brabantine dialects of Dutch can fit 'song', which is Lied in German and lied in Dutch, both of neutre genus. In today's standard Dutch, de Brabançonnenl does not betray whether the gender is male or female, but cannot be used for a neuter substantive either, and referring to de Brabançonne by hij confirms the male interpretation of Dutch dialects. For the anthem name in English, as in Dutch, German, and of course French, Brabançonne can be considered a proper noun.
  2. ^ The Belgian Revolution was not originally separatist, but was a movement for further liberalization of the Netherlands and more rights for French language. The name of "Belgium/Belgia/Belgique" at this time is poetic Latin name of Netherlands and official name of Netherlands in French language.
  3. ^ At this time was popular symbol of the French Revolution.
  4. ^ St. Michael the Archangel, a patron saint of Brussels. The image seems to be of the Belgian flag flying from the towers of the Cathedral of St. Michael and St. Gudula, Brussels.
  5. ^ a b See Help:IPA/French and French phonology.
  6. ^ a b See Help:IPA/Dutch and Dutch phonology.
  7. ^ a b See Help:IPA/German and German phonology.

References

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  1. ^ "Courrier des Pays-Bas: La Brabançonne". Retrieved 3 April 2013.
  2. ^ Francis Martens, La Belgique en chantant, pp. 19–40, in Antoine Pickels and Jacques Sojcher (eds.), Belgique: toujours grande et belle, issues 1–2, Éditions Complexe, Brussels, 1998
  3. ^ "Salomon Louis Hymans et la Brabançonne". IEJ (in French). 25 October 2019.
  4. ^ Ian Berwick (14 October 2015). "National Anthem: Belgium - Brabançonne [Trilingual]". YouTube. Archived from the original on 15 April 2022. Retrieved 16 April 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  5. ^ "Pourquoi est-il plus facile de chanter la Marseillaise plutôt que la Brabançonne ?". RTBF (in French). Retrieved 22 July 2024.
  6. ^ "Belgian leader makes anthem gaffe". 23 July 2007 – via news.bbc.co.uk.
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