History

La Marseillaise is a song written and composed by Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle on April 24, 1792. Its original name is Chant de marche de l’ArmÈe 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 from Marseille upon their arrival in Paris.

La Marseillaise was rearranged by Hector Berlioz around 1830.

In 1917, after the collapse of the tsarist regim La Marseillaise became the national anthem of Russia, the Russian lyrics being very different from the French lyrics. It was soon replaced with The International by the Bolsheviks.

The song was banned in Vichy France and German occupied areas during World War II and singing it was an act of resistance

In France itself, the anthem (and particularly the lyrics) has become a controversial issue since the 1970s. Some consider it militaristic and racist, 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. Thus, no change is likely to occur.

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.

Fiction
The song was part of a famous scene in Casablanca in which French resistance sympathizers tried to sing the song louder than the Nazi soldiers who were singing “Die Wacht am Rhein”.

Music
There is various versions of the music, excerpt avaiblable at French National Defence website.

The official one from the French President website in RealAudio File (116 Ko) or Wave File (660 Ko).

 Marseillaise.mid (MIDI File)

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

French lyrics
Allons enfants de la Patrie
Le jour de gloire est arrivÈ.
Contre nous de la tyrannie
L’Ètendard sanglant est levÈ (bis)
Entendez-vous dans nos campagnes
Mugir ces fÈroces soldats ?
Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras,
Egorger vos fils, vos compagnes.

Refrain:
Aux armes citoyens!
Formez vos bataillons!
Marchons, marchons,
qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons.

Que veut cette horde d’esclaves
De traÓtres, de rois conjurÈs ?
Pour qui ces ignobles entraves
Ces fers dËs longtemps prÈparÈs ? (bis)
FranÁais, pour nous, ah! quel outrage
Quels transports il doit exciter ?
C’est nous qu’on ose mÈditer
De rendre ‡ l’antique esclavage !

Refrain

Quoi ces cohortes ÈtrangËres !
Feraient la loi dans nos foyers !
Quoi ! ces phalanges mercenaires
Terrasseraient nos fils guerriers ! (bis)
Grand Dieu! par des mains enchaÓnÈes
Nos fronts sous le joug se ploieraient
De vils despotes deviendraient
Les maÓtres des destinÈes.

Refrain

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 hÈros
La France en produit de nouveaux,
Contre vous tout prÍts ‡ se battre

Refrain

FranÁais, en guerriers magnanimes
Portez ou retenez vos coups !
…pargnez ces tristes victimes
A regret s’armant contre nous (bis)
Mais ces despotes sanguinaires,
Mais ces complices de BouillÈ
Tous ces tigres qui, sans pitiÈ
DÈchirent le sein de leur mËre !

Refrain
(“Couplet des enfants”)

Nous entrerons dans la carriËre
Quand nos aÓnÈs n’y seront plus,
Nous y trouverons leur poussiËre
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 !

Refrain

Amour sacrÈ de la Patrie
Conduis, soutiens nos bras vengeurs
LibertÈ, LibertÈ chÈrie
Combats avec tes dÈfenseurs ! (bis)
Sous nos drapeaux, que la victoire
Accoure ‡ tes m‚les accents
Que tes ennemis expirants
Voient ton triomphe et notre gloire !

Refrain

English Translation
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

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

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 us they dare plan
To return to the old slavery!

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

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

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 BouillÈ
All these tigers who pitilessly
Ripped out their mothers’ wombs

We shall enter into the career
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

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 manly tone
So that in death your enemies
See your triumph and our glory!