Saturday, July 3, 2010

The Isle of Man National Anthem

The National Anthem of the Isle of Man, known in Manx as Arrane Ashoonagh dy Vannin, was written and composed by William Henry Gill (1839-1923), with the Manx translation by John J. Kneen (1873-1939). The anthem is sung to an adaptation of the traditional Manx melody of Mylecharaine's March and its English title is normally O Land of Our Birth.

First performed at the Manx Music Festival on Thursday 21 March 1907, there are eight verses in total, but the first and last verses are those usually sung. The anthem was given official status by the Isle of Man's legislature Tynwald at a sitting on 22 January 2003, with God Save the Queen, being designated as the Royal Anthem. The National Anthem is used on official and ceremonial occasions and in schools, the Royal Anthem is normally reserved for use additionally on those occasions when the Sovereign, members of the Royal Family or the Lieutenant Governor are present.

William Henry Gill (24 October 1839 - 27 June 1923) a Manx musical scholar was born at Marsala, Sicily to Manx parents, and he was educated at King William's College. He lived in London most of his life but remained interested in his roots. The anthem is a traditional Manx ballad. Gill's words were published as "Eaisht oo as lash-tyn" ("Listen and Hear") in Manx National Songs in 1896, "The Manx Fisherman's Evening Hymn" and "Peel Castle. Gill also published A Manx Wedding and Other Songs.

John Joseph Kneen (12 September 1873 – 21 November 1938) was a British linguist specializing in Manx who translated the Isle of Man National Anthem, "Arrane Ashoonagh Dy Vannin," into Manx. Kneen was born in Douglas, Isle of Man. He studied Manx and became interested in its preservation. In 1910 Kneen completed A Grammar of the Manx Language. He also published a multi-volume list of place names in each sheading. His work earned him a Master of Arts from University of Liverpool in 1929. He was later bestowed a Knighthood of the Royal Norwegian Order of St. Olaf in 1933 by King Haakon of Norway.

Above is a first day cover showing the composer William Henry Gill, issued on April 24, 1985. Below is Gill with the score of the anthem.