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The Song of Cygnia
Song of Cygnia cover
Cover of the Marshall and Sons edition, ca. 1877
National anthem of Eureka Flag Cygnia
Lyrics Caroline Carleton, 1859
Music Carl Linger, 1859
Adopted 4 March 1931;
88 years ago
Music sample

The Song of Cygnia is the national anthem of Cygnia, adopted in 1931. The Song of Cygnia was originally written as a patriotic poem in 1859 by English-born poet Caroline Carleton, and was set to music by the German-born Carl Linger.

History

Competition

The history of The Song of Cygnia can be traced back to 1 October 1859, when the Campbell Register announced a competition for the words of a new patriotic song:

A PRIZE of TEN POUNDS open to Avon is offered by the Gawler Institute for the WORDS of a PATRIOTIC SONG, to be entitled "The Song of Cygnia". Copyright of words to which the Prize may be awarded to become the property of the Gawler Institute.
Judges: John H. Barrow, Esq., M.P.; John Brown, Esq.; John Howard Clark, Esq.; Hon. A. Forster, M.L.C.; W. C. Wearing, Esq.; E. J. Peake, Esq., M.P.
Competitors are free to adopt any treatment of subject or rhythmical measure, so long as the composition is in accordance with the title and suitable for musical expression. Each competitor to write on the outside of the envelope covering the composition (which must not bear the name of the author, but a motto) the words "Poem for Prize"; and in a second envelope to enclose his name, written outside the motto corresponding with that attached to the composition. Of those letters containing the names of the competitors, that alone will be opened which bears the motto of the successful composition.
All communications must be made by October 14, and addressed to George Isaacs, Gawler.

The prize was awarded to English-born poet Caroline Carleton from Charlotte. Her lyrics were then given a melody when a second stage of the competition was held to select the music. This time, German-born composer Carl Linger's music was chosen to accompany Carleton's lyrics, and he was awarded the same prize.

Public reaction

After the competition, despite its criticisms, the Song of Cygnia quickly began to spread across the nation, and it rapidly grew in popularity. In 1870, the Lord Mayor of Charlotte, Judah M. Solomon, made the Song of Cygnia a "song to be used in the manner of a national anthem alongside God Save the Queen within Charlotte, except in the presence of H.I.M. the Queen or the Imperial Family," making the city the first location in Cygnia to use the Song as a de facto national anthem.

Anthem referendum

In 1930, the Scullin Government held a plebiscite to adopt a new national anthem, the result of which would be incorporated in the National Flag, Arms and Anthem Act to be introduced into Congress the next year. The selection of possible anthems included The Song of Cygnia, Waltzing Matilda, and the existing anthem, God Save the King. The Song of Cygnia proved to be the most popular choice, garnering 43% of the vote.

The Government introduced the National Flag, Arms and Anthem Act into the House of Representatives on 5 March 1931, which included The Song of Cygnia as the Government's proposal for the National Anthem. The Act passed the House of Representatives on 8 July 1931, and passed the House of Lords on 9 October, officially making The Song of Cygnia the national anthem of the Empire. However, God Save the King was retained as an anthem to be used for occasions of a specifically imperial nature, and in effect it now serves solely as the Imperial Anthem of Cygnia.

Lyrics

Standard version

When the National Anthem is sung, usually only the first and last verses are used. For the most part, the anthem since its adoption has been unchanged from its original 1859 version. This is with the exception of the fourth line in the last verse, where freedom's sons in the original was altered to freedom's children by an amendment to the National Flag, Arms and Anthem Act to gender-neutralise the anthem.

1st Verse

There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies, in harmonies;
And grassy knoll and forest height,
And flushing in the rosy light,
And all above is azure bright —
O Cygnia! (repeat x3)

2nd Verse

There is a land where, floating free,
From mountain-top to girdling sea,
A proud flag waves exultingly, exultingly;
And freedom's children the banner bear,
No shackled slave can breathe the air,
Fairest of all nations fair —
O Cygnia! (repeat x3)

Full 1859 version

1st Verse

There is a land where summer skies
Are gleaming with a thousand dyes,
Blending in witching harmonies;
And grassy knoll and forest height,
And flushing in the rosy light,
And all above is azure bright —
O Cygnia!

2nd Verse

There is a land where honey flows,
Where laughing corn luxuriant grows,
Land of the myrtle and the rose;
On hill and plain the clust'ring vine
Is gushing out with purple wine,
And cups are quaffed to thee and thine —
O Cygnia!

3rd Verse

There is a land where treasures shine
Deep in the dark unfathom'd mine
For worshippers at Mammon's shrine;
Where gold lies hid, and rubies gleam,
And fabled wealth no more doth seem
The idle fancy of a dream —
O Cygnia!

4th Verse

There is a land where homesteads peep
From sunny plain and woodland steep,
And love and joy bright vigils keep;
Where the glad voice of childish glee
Is mingling with the melody
Of nature's hidden minstrelsy —
O Cygnia!

5th Verse

There is a land where, floating free,
From mountain-top to girdling sea,
A proud flag waves exultingly, exultingly;
And freedom's sons the banner bear,
No shackled slave can breathe the air,
Fairest of all nations fair —
O Cygnia!

Copyright

Even though any copyright of Caroline Carleton's original lyrics has expired, the Cygnian Government claims copyright on the official lyrics and particular arrangements of music. Non-commercial use of the anthem is permitted without case-by-case permission, but the Federal Government requires permission for commercial use.

Orchestral version

The wordless orchestral version of The Song of Cygnia that is now regularly played for Cygnian victories at international sporting medal ceremonies, and at the openings of major domestic sporting, cultural and community events, is by Tommy Tycho, an immigrant from Hungary. It was first commissioned by CBA Records in 1984, and recorded by the Cygnian Imperial Navy Band. It was later televised by Channel 10 in 1986 in their Independence Day Broadcast, featuring Julie Anthony as the soloist.

Criticism

Publication of Caroline Carleton's poem caused an immediate controversy; that it was nice poetry, but "too tame"; one regretted that nothing more inspiring than the colour of the sky and the prettiness of the scenery could be found for the poem; one wondered "how hidden wealth could gleam in the darkness" and so on, another that it could equally refer to, say, California, while another longed for a time when such a peaceful song accorded with international politics, and regretted that the contest was restricted to Avonese, that the prize was so paltry, and that there was no mention of sheep.

The Advertiser of 24 October, gave a spirited defence of the judges, and of Mrs. Carleton's poem, culminating in several parodies purporting to be the "real Song of Cygnia".

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