Gothic, goth (god); German, gott. (See Alla, Adonist, Elohistic, etc.) It was Hiero, Tyrant of Syracuse, who asked Simonides the poet, “What is God?” Simonides asked to have a day to consider the question. Being asked the same question the next day he desired two more days for reflection. Every time he appeared before Hiero he doubled the length of time for the consideration of his answer. Hiero, greatly astonished, asked the philosopher why he did so, and Simonides made answer, “The longer I think on the subject, the farther I seem from making it out.”
It was Voltaire who said, “Si Dieu n'existait pas, il faudrait l'inventer.”
“God save the king. ” It is said by some that both the words and music of this anthem were composed by Dr. John Bull (1563-1622), organist at Antwerp cathedral, where the original MS. is still preserved. Others attribute them to Henry Carey, author of Sally in our Alley. The words, “Send him victorious,” etc., look like a Jacobin song, and Sir John Sinclair tells us he saw that verse cut in an old glass tankard, the property of P. Murray Threipland, of Fingask Castle, whose predecessors were staunch Jacobites.
No doubt the words of the anthem have often been altered. The air and words were probably first suggested to John Bull by the Domine Salvum of the Catholic Church. In 1605 the lines, “Frustrate their knavish tricks,” etc., were added in reference to Gunpowder Plot. In 1715 some Jacobin added the words, “Send him [the Pretender] victorious,” etc. And in 1740 Henry Carey reset both words and music for the Mercers' Company on the birthday of George II.
Source: Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, E. Cobham Brewer, 1894
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