On this day in history : 28th September 1745 – The national anthem – God Save the King – is sung for the first time – at the Drury Lane Theatre, London….

God bless our noble King,
God save great George our King....
The then Theatre Royal, Drury Lane – Public domain

The words were sung as a patriotic song in support of King George II…. ‘The Young Pretender’ – Prince Charles Edward Stuart – had just defeated the King’s army at Prestonpans, near to Edinburgh…. When word reached London Thomas Augustine Arne, leader of the orchestra at the Drury Lane Theatre (and incidentally composer of Rule Britannia) wanted to show patriotic solidarity to the King…. He arranged a musical version of the words which had first been published in Gentleman’s Magazine earlier in 1745…. The true origins of the words are obscure; some attribute them to John Bull, others to Thomas Ravenscroft, Henry Purcell or Henry Covey….

Thomas Augustine Arne – Public domain

The anthem was performed after the evening performance of the theatre’s play on the 28th of September…. It proved so popular that it was repeated every night thereafter – and had soon spread to other theatres….

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