Thursday, July 16, 2009

March on Bahama Land

"March On, Bahamaland!" was selected as the winning entry in a national competition, and was adopted as anthem and official emblem on independence July 10, 1973. The winner of the competition was Timothy Gibson. As a former British colony and current Commonwealth realm, The Bahamas retains God Save the Queen as its "royal anthem" .

Timothy Gibson composer, lyricist and educator was born in Savannah Sound, Eleuthera on April 12, 1903. He received his early education in Savannah Sound, worked as a monitor from the age of 11. At the same age he went to Arthur's Town, Cat Island, to join his brother, C. I. Gibson who was a head teacher and was given a job as monitor. He kept this post until he was 17.

When his brother was transferred to Buckley's, Long Island he went with him and again worked as a monitor for one year. The following year he received a job as head teacher in Scrubb Hill, Long Island. He later came to Nassau as a student-in training at the Boys Central School which was then located in Nassau Court.

He was later transferred to the Sandilands School as acting head teacher for eight months and then to the school in George Town, Exuma, where he stayed for seven years, returning to Nassau for a refresher course at the Eastern Senior School.

Following this, he was transferred to Tarpum Bay, Eleuthera, as head teacher and remained there for seven years before coming to Nassau where he took up the post as teacher at the Western Junior School, then located on Hospital Lane.

When the new school was built on Market Street, he moved there. He left the classroom when he was given a job as supervisor of music for Government Schools. His time then was divided between the junior and senior schools where he taught music theory and singing.

In 1961 he was made Assistant Inspector of Schools for music. He worked with the Family Island Schools and also the Bahamas Teacher's College as well as with schools in New Providence.

For many years he did the adjudication for the Family Island Schools during the Annual Music Festival. Many of the songs he wrote were used in these festivals.

Mr. Gibson received most of his music training from his brother C. I. Gibson who taught him how to read music and play the organ. Apart from his brother's training, he studied music theory at Trinity College London, and attended Seminars in Delaware. He was a choral conductor accredited by the University Conservatory of Chicago through a Correspondence Course.

His song-writing career began with "Nassau Calling" in 1938. He wrote other songs such as "Sailor Prince", for the visit of Prince Philip, "Your Majesty", for the visit of Queen Elizabeth II, and "Hail Princess Britannia", for the visit of Princess Margaret. This title has since been changed to "Beautiful Bahamaland". He also wrote the National Anthem of the Bahamas "March On Bahama Land".

Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
March on to glory, your bright banners waving high.
See how the world marks the manner of your bearing!
Pledge to excel through love and unity.
Pressing onward, march together to a common loftier goal;
Steady sunward, though the weather hide the wide and treacherous shoal.
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland;
Till the road you've trod Lead unto your God, March on, Bahamaland!


The Government of The Bahamas honoured this veteran educator by naming a school after him. Mr. Gibson was married to the former Miss Rosena Hilton. He died in 1979 at the age of 76.

Above, stamp of the composer, Timothy Gibson. Below, flag raising ceremony with the band playing the national anthem issued in 1983, the 10th Anniversary of Independence.