Children struggling with National Anthem to be taught lyrics using new Coronation book

The new book 'God Save the King'
The new book 'God Save the King'

The words of the National Anthem were once second nature for most, but today's children need a helping hand in mastering God Save the King.

Ahead of King Charles III’s Coronation, a new illustrated book aims to teach children the song's lyrics, as well as its historical significance, so that they can fully participate in the celebrations.

The book, God Save the King, traces the Anthem's story from its origins in the Bible to its use around the world today, and features phrase-by-phrase illustrations.

In a foreword, Anne-Marie Minhall, the Classic FM presenter, describes it as a “piece of music that touches all our lives.”

She added: “Timeless. Enduring. Evergreen. May it always be this way. An anthem that is a constant in good times and in hard times.”

God Save The King
God Save The King

She said it was important to pass the song on to future generations "however we can", with the book encouraging youngsters to get involved in the national celebrations in May.

“It’s about throwing a line and hoping youngsters bite a little bit, and when they hear it at the coronation in May, it will mean something to them. It’s imperative with music like this, it’s part of who we are.”

Since AD 973, the National Anthem was used as a spoken prayer at the coronation of every British monarch, but by the mid-18th century, it began to be sung whenever royalty appeared in public.

There are five verses in the National Anthem, although only the first and last verse are usually sung nowadays.

However, Queen Victoria enjoyed adding extra verses to celebrate royal marriages and births during her reign and the German composer Beethoven was so impressed with it – describing it as the best National Anthem he had encountered – that he  wove it into his orchestral work, “Wellington’s Victory”.

The book features phrase-by-phrase illustrations
The book features phrase-by-phrase illustrations

In the last century, the National Anthem has been at the heart of many historical moments. It was the first song to be played on a computer (by Alan Turing in 1948), Brian May played it on electric guitar from the roof of Buckingham Palace during the late Queen’s Golden Jubilee celebrations in 2002, and a choir of children, some of them deaf, performed it at the opening ceremony for the Olympic Games in London in 2012.

An archaic line from the National Anthem referring to crushing rebellious Scots is not included in the new book. The omitted verse reads: "Lord grant that Marshal Wade, May by thy mighty aid, Victory bring. May he sedition hush, And like a torrent rush, Rebellious Scots to crush, God Save the King."

The book, published by Hodder & Stoghton, will be launched following a festive service of Choral Evensong at Southwark Cathedral on May 7. The dean, the Very Revd Andrew Nunn, will be in conversation with Anne-Marie Minhall and the book’s illustrator, the local artist, Rosie Brooks.