Paris, Chicago and national anthems: O say, can we sing?

Paris, Chicago and national anthems: O say, can we sing?

The terrifying events on Friday, Nov. 13, in Paris have brought me one consolation: the sight, in photos or videos, of crowds of Parisians singing "La Marseillaise," the French national anthem. Even the crowd at the national stadium after the France-Germany football (soccer) game left singing it.

They knew the words. They had the tune. They could rely on it when they needed it most.

On Sunday, I looked forward to listening to the Chicago Blackhawks-Calgary Flames game. I wondered whether Chicago's great pregame-national-anthem singer, Jim Cornelison, might add "La Marseillaise" to the set of "O Canada" and "The Star-Spangled Banner." No such luck. (Yet?)

But as usual, the crowd was almost silent while Cornelison sang "O Canada" and did its best to drown him out with screams and yells during "The Star-Spangled Banner."

I have followed the Blackhawks for many years, but I will never understand (nor agree with) the custom of drowning out the anthem... especially now.

If Chicago were ever in the same position as Paris, would we have the national anthem at our fingertips as our rallying cry? I doubt it, and the doubt hurts.

The circus will be in town for a while, so here's your chance: When you start watching a game, listen to "The Star-Spangled Banner." Listen or sing along. Then, when you go to the game, sing along louder!

Surely an eruption of applause after the anthem would be spine-tingling enough!

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  • They aren't drowning out the anthem, they are cheering it. Apparently the few St. Louis Blues fans as exist are picking up on the custom.

    Of course, there is the baseball version, Jose can you see? Very considerate.

  • In reply to jack:

    I stand by my statement. Even if they think they are cheering it, the cheers are making it hard for the organist and singer to stay together. That's drowning out. I have heard rinks full of people singing along, and I wish we could get back to that. We need it.

  • In reply to Margaret H. Laing:

    Cornelison and Pellico have figured it out. I also don't see the old and recent vets boycotting the ceremony.

  • In reply to jack:

    As a musician myself, I can see and hear times when Cornelison and Pellico (the organist) are struggling to synchronize with each other. As for veterans, I welcome input -- they often look like they're gritting their teeth.
    I think we'll need to agree to disagree here, Jack, but thank you for your input.

  • I completely understand what you are saying. However, I just don't think this is a battle you are going to win.

    I like to fight the good fight myself sometimes but I have to recognize when I am on a quixotic quest with no hope of success. I am not saying don't tilt at windmills but do it just to enjoy the process.

    Good luck!

  • In reply to Kathy Mathews:

    Thanks, Kathy. I will go ahead singing along at home!

  • I agree. The National Anthem should be sung by all with dignity and decorum. It should not be treated as a lead-in to an athletic contest.That may account for the roaring at its ending. Also, too many singers use it to showcase their vocal talents, which often results in melodic acrobatics in the final bars. These florid virtuoso performances may be why most citizens don't join in.

  • In reply to Aquinas wired:

    Thank you very much. You'd have loved Blackhawks announcer Pat Foley's reaction to a not-so-melodic acrobat before a game a few years ago. She finished the anthem, and Foley said, "Young lady, it's not about you."
    I just wish I didn't think of that so often when her cohorts get hold of the anthem.

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