La Marseillaise and The Cult of the Supreme Being

When reading “La Marseillaise”, the French national anthem, I found it surprising that Rouget, who composed this anthem himself, refused to take the oath (Halsall,1997). The main focus of this anthem was to rise the people during the French revolution, the goal was to also convince them to stand up for what they believed in. It is to gather the people to go against their tyrant who is unjust. This is stated in the line “shall hateful tyrants, mischief breeding (Rouget,1792)”. This song was to inspire the army to continue on in triumph. This song explains the argument that they can either live in misery or stand up against those repressing them and state their beliefs. This document is a religious document.

In the Cult of the Supreme Being, a similar idea is stated. Robespierre (1758-94), was a leader during one of the most radical, violent stages in the revolution (Halsall, 1997). I thought it was interesting how Halsall pointed out that although this is the period of the reign of terror, it was also a time period where the government had a great deal of control. The people have seen torture, violence and have watched the king demolish a great deal of the human race. This is a time period where the people are in need of peace. Rather than uprising the people as the anthem “La marseillaise” did, it is directed towards the army. This statement is drastically against the idea of having a king, and states the negative affects of all kings rulings.

5 thoughts on “La Marseillaise and The Cult of the Supreme Being

  1. When I read that Rouget de Lisle refused to take an oath to pledge his allegiance to a new constitution, I was shocked much like you. When reading the national anthem (that he created), one feels empowered, for the message of the anthem is to stand up for your freedom and your liberties (even if it is rather violent). It begs the question, why did Rouget de Lisle created the anthem in the first place? What purpose did creating this anthem serve if he did not believe the words in which he wrote down? Ultimately, because de Lisle refused to align himself with the new constitution, the overall message of the anthem becomes less powerful. It is less powerful because the man who wrote the anthem that rallied the French, was not passionate enough to take an oath to pledge his allegiance to a new constitution.

    • I experienced the same surprise as both of you, that Rouget refused to Pledge his allegiance. It made me wonder what his original intent for writing the National Anthem was? The author of the summery seemed to suggest that the anthem, as a motivating song for troops was a natural choice for the revolutionaries, but based on the intentions of the document I’m not as sure.

      • I feel that Rouget refusing to take the oath could have been because the document was something he did not believe in himself. When reading the document, it is clear it serves to Nationalize its people and to fight for their country. Rouget refusing to take the oath makes me curious as well.

  2. I agree with all of the comments above. The Anthem looses its strength if its author is unwilling to pledge allegiance to it. If the usual goal of a National anthem is to unite, then it is crucial it receives support from its contributors. Rougets lack of support seems to undermine his purpose in writing it in the first place.

  3. This was very surprising for me as well because it is very odd that someone would write something so empowering yet not be able to pledge themselves to their own words. It makes me wonder why Rouget wrote this in the first place. Although he did not take the oath, it seems like he could suffer some penalty for writing their National Anthem.

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