Jamaican National Anthem Lyrics, History and Protocol


Have you heard the Jamaican national anthem? Do you know it's history?

If you are like me, when you visit one of the Caribbean islands, you like to learn a few things about their history and culture. And one of the best ways to do that is to start with their national anthem.

On it's way to independence, Jamaica left the Federation of the West Indies after a referendum on September 19, 1961. In that same month, a contest to create the national anthem of Jamaica got under way.

The contest had two parts. The first was to select the words (or lyrics) for the anthem. Once the words were chosen, then part two of the contest got underway to find the music to accompany the winning lyrics.

The National Anthem Committee of the Jamaican Palament was responsible for making the final choice, and after a spirited debate, the Jamaican national anthem was chosen on Thursday, July 19, 1962. Not long afterward (August 6, 1962), Jamica was officially granted independence.

Titled "Jamaica, Land We Love," the lyrics where written by the Reverend and Honorable Hugh Sherlock. The music was composed by the Honorable Robert Lightbourne. The final arrangement is the work of Mapletoft Poulle. Though they worked independently, the final product is beautiful and moving.

Jamaican National Anthem Lyrics

Jamaica, Land We Love

Eternal Father bless our land,
Guard us with Thy Mighty Hand,
Keep us free from evil powers,
Be our light through countless hours.

To our Leaders,
Great Defender,
Grant true wisdom from above.

Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, Land we love.

Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

Teach us true respect for all,
Stir response to duty’s call,
strengthen us the weak to cherish,
Give us vision lest we perish.

Knowledge send us Heavenly Father,
Grant true wisdom from above.

Justice, Truth be ours forever,
Jamaica, land we love.

Jamaica, Jamaica, Jamaica land we love.

The original version (above) uses the word "guard" in the second line of the first verse. Today, that "guard" is often replaced with "guide."

Protocol for the National Anthem of Jamaica

Like many other countries around the world, there is a protocol for playing and listening to the national anthem.

  • Stand at attention during the anthem.
  • Men should remove their hats.
  • The first verse is played/sung when the Governor-General or
  • Prime Minister arrives and reaches their designated seats, just prior to sitting.
  • The song can be played/sung at public gatherings.
  • The anthem should be part of any ceremony for raising or lowering the Jamaican flag at the beginning and ending of the school year and any other independence celebrations.

Now, the next time you hear the Jamaican national anthem, you know both the words and the history behind them!

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