Length: 76 words
Anthem lyrics (use the arrow on the left to collapse this section):
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, tho’ the weather
hide the wide and treacherous shoal.
Lift up your head to the rising sun, Bahamaland,
‘Til the road you’ve trod lead unto your God,
March on, Bahamaland.
Historical context:“March On, Bahamaland” is the national anthem of The Bahamas. (NB: the word “The” in the country’s name is always capitalized; the nation’s official name is the Commonwealth of The Bahamas.”) It was written in 1972-73, when The Bahamas was preparing to declare its independence from the United Kingdom, as part of a national contest to select an anthem.
The winner was Timothy Gibson, a music teacher and songwriter who had authored many other songs of national political significance, such as “Sailor Prince,” for an official visit of Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh “Your Majesty” for an official visit of Queen Elizabeth II.
As The Bahamas is still a Commonwealth realm, and Queen Elizabeth II is still its monarch and titular head of state, “God Save the Queen” also remains the nation’s royal anthem. Some very public confusion resulted from these two anthems at the 1982 Commonwealth Games in Perth, Australia. A Bahamian gold medal winner in track and field, Shonel Ferguson, mounted the podium to receive the award only to hear “God Save the Queen” played instead of March On, Bahamaland.” Ferguson stepped down off the podium, prompting the music to stop, but when she stepped up again, the organizers played the same, incorrect music. Ferguson stepped down again, as a gentle reminder of the mistake. Embarrassingly, the organizers did not have a recording of the national anthem on hand—but the Bahamian delegation came to the rescue. They stepped forward and sang the anthem themselves, to acclamation from the crowd.