The Marseilles Hymn

“Grandsires” is an older form of “grandfathers”, “hoary” means “white with age”, “affright” means “frighten” and “insatiate” means “unable to be satisfied”. In the hymnal, after “To arms! to arms!”, the song reads “etc”. Perhaps the song was well enough known in the States that the rest of the verse did not need to be printed. I looked up the rest of the verse on Wikipedia.org. “Mete and vend the light and air” refers to the monarchy’s complete control of its subjects, even to meting out light and charging for air.

Verse 1:
Ye sons of France, awake to glory!
Hark! hark! what myriads bid you rise!
Your children, wives, and grandsires hoary:
Behold their tears, and hear their cries:
Behold their tears, and hear their cries:
Shall hateful tyrants mischief breeding,
With hireling hosts, a ruffian band,
Affright and desolate the land,
While peace and liberty lie bleeding.
To arms! to arms! ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolv’d
On to victory or death!

Verse 2:
With luxury and pride surrounded
The vile, insatiate despots dare,
Their thirst for gold and power unbounded,
To mete and vend the light and air:
To mete and vend the light and air:
Like beasts of burden would they load us,
Like gods would bid their slaves adore;
But man is man, and who is more?
Then shall they longer lash and goad us:
To arms! to arms! ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolv’d
On victory or death!

Verse 3:
Oh, liberty! can man resign thee,
Once having felt thy generous flame?
Can dungeons, bolts, and bars confine thee?
Or whips thy noble spirit tame?
Or whips thy noble spirit tame?
Too long the world has wept bewailing
That falsehood’s dagger tyrants weild;
But freedom is our sword and shield,
And all their arts are unavailing.
To arms! to arms! ye brave!
The avenging sword unsheath,
March on, march on!
All hearts resolv’d
On to victory or death!

Rouget de Lisle

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