Drury Lane; Burney harmonised it for the former, and Arne for the latter. Both words and music were printed, the latter in their present form, in the Gentleman's Magazine, Oct. 1745.
How far God save the King was compiled from older airs will probably never be known. Several exist with a certain resemblance to the modern tune.
1. An 'Ayre,' without further title, at p. 98 [App. p.650 "fo. 98"] of a MS. book attributed to 'Dr. Jan Bull,' and dated 1619. The MS., formerly in possession of Pepusch and of Kitchener, is now in the hands of Mrs. Clark, who refuses to allow it to be seen, but the following is copied from a transcript of Sir G. Smart's:
This is in 2 strains of 6 and 8 bars, and besides its general likeness it has both the rhythm and the melody of the modern air in the first four bars of the second strain; but the minor mode makes an essential difference in the effect.
A piece entitled 'God save the King' occurs in the same MS., p. 66 [App. p.650 "fo. 56"], but this is founded on the phrase and has no resemblance whatever to the national melody.
2. A Scotch carol, 'Remember, O thou man,' in Ravenscroft's 'Melismata,' 1611.
This is the air on the ground of which 'God save the King' is sometimes claimed for Scotland. It is in 2 strains of 8 bars each, and has the rhythm and melody of the modern tune in the first and third bars of the second strain. But it is in minor.
3. A ballad, 'Franklin is fled away' (first printed in 1669).
[App. p.650 "last note should be A."]
4. A piece in 'A choice Collection of Lessons for the Harpsichord or Spinnet, composed by the late Mr. Henry Purcell,' 1696.
Here the similarity is confined to the recurring rhythm in the first and third bars of each section.
Thus the rhythm and phrases of God save the King, and even the unequal length of the two strains (its most essential peculiarity), had all existed before. So also did some of the phrases of the words. 'God save the king' is found in the English Bible (Coverdale, 1535), and as the phrase is in no sense a rendering of the Hebrew words, which literally are 'Let the king live,' it seems to follow that the phrase must have been employed in the translation as one familiar to nglish readers. Mr. Froude has also quoted a watchword of the navy as early as 1545—'God save the king,' with the countersign 'Long to reign over us' (Hist. chap. 22). 'God save King James' is the refrain of a ballad of 1606; and God save Charles the king, Our royal Roy, Grant him long to reign. In peace and joy,' is the opening of another ballad dating probably from 1645.
Both words and tune have been considerably antedated. They have been called 'The very words and music of an old anthem that was sung at St. James's Chapel for King James the Second' (Victor's letter, Oct. 1745). Dr. Arne is reported to have said that it was a received opinion that it was written for the Catholic Chapel of James II. This is the date given it by Burney in Rees's Cyclopaedia (Chappell, 694), and Dr. Benjamin Cooke had heard it sung to the words 'Great James our King.' But Dr. Cooke was not born till 1734, and his 'James' must have been (James III. ) the Pretender. And as to the Catholic Chapel of James II, to have been sung there it must surely have been in Latin, of which certainly no traces are found.
Lully's (1633–87) claim to the 'God save,' sometimes put forward, rests on the 'Souvenirs de la Marquise de Créqui,' which is now known to be
- Printed by Mr. Cummings (Mus. Times, May 1878). The sharps there given are omitted from the signature; as Mr. Cummings surmises, with great probability, that they were added after Bull's time.