What is the national Acadian anthem?

Background

The national Acadian anthem was chosen in Miscouche, Prince Edward Island in 1884, during the second National Acadian Convention.

Delegates of the third commission which was called “Drapeau et chant national” (National anthem and flag) were unable to submit only one appropriate suggestion, so they named a special committee to do so. However, the committee did not have to make any preliminary studies or recommendations, since the Convention was instantly won over by the Marian hymn, the Ave Maris Stella, probably more for its melody than for its lyrics.  In fact, when Father Richard and Father Cormier displayed, before an emotional audience, a superb tricoloured flag decorated with a yellow star, the enthusiasm was universal.  Loud cheers welcomed the standard seen for the first time.  From all sides, everyone asked for a song, so Father Richard struck up, in a solemn and low-pitched voice, the Ave Maris Stella, which everyone repeated after him.  Father Richard, taking the floor, expressed his hope that our musicians would soon find a national melody.  Pascal Poirier, interrupting him, announced that for him “the Acadian national melody has already been found, and found in a splendid way that shows the hand of God, the intervention of Mary, our patron saint.  This melody that we have been looking for, that we implored, has just echoed in our ears, it has generated the most sweet and gentle sensation in our hearts.  It is the melody that Father Richard struck up, which was repeated by the entire audience; it is the melody of the Ave Maris Stella, a hymn which is being sung in all our churches and that we so often hear in our homes; the salutation of the Church to Mary, patron saint of the Acadians”.  [Unofficial translation]  These words were welcomed by the crowd with jubilation.  The President submitted the proposal to the assembly, who adopted it to the sound of the delegation’s enthusiastic cheers.

Afterwards, individuals showed that they were in favour of rhymes which would be more representative of the Acadians, with their past full of storms and their future filled with hope.  Others were shocked to hear a Church song brought to places where there were politics and alcohol.  Time and time again, individuals have tried to compose a national Acadian hymn on the melody adopted in Miscouche.  Two profane compositions were somewhat successful, the Marseillaise acadienne, written in 1910 by Father A.-T. Bourque, and En avant!, a work by Father Stanislas Doucet, dating back to 1912.  From 1960 onwards, the Ave Maris Stella issue was raised during various meetings.  So much so that, in 1972, at a meeting of New Brunswick Francophones held in Fredericton, 58.7% of the delegates agreed that the national Acadian anthem, the Ave Maris Stella, be replaced, while only 16.8% were against this idea.  In 1984, one hundred years after it was chosen, the issue of the national anthem is still not settled.  The Ave Maris Stella, which is still being sung in latin during certain patriotic events, remains the offical national anthem of Acadia.   There is however, a lack of consensus around this symbol.

The following are the lyrics of the Ave Maris Stella:

Ave, maris stella,
Dei Mater alma,
Atque semper Virgo,
Felix coeli porta. (bis)

Sumens illud Ave
Gabrielis ore,
Funda nos in pace,
Mutans Hevae nomen. (bis)

Solve vincla reis,
Profer lumen caecis,
Mala nostra pelle,
Bona cuncta posce. (bis)

Monstra te esse matrem,
Sumat per te preces
Qui pro nobis natus,
Tulit esse tuus. (bis)

Virgo singularis
Inter omnes mitis,
Nos culpis solutos
Mites fac et castos. (bis)

Vitam praesta puram,
Iter para tutum,
Ut videntes Jesum
Semper collaetemur. (bis)

Sit laus Deo Patri,
Summo Christo decus,
Spiritui Sancto,
Tribus honor unus. (bis) Amen.

(“Un peuple à unir“, special issue of La Petite Souvenance to mark the Acadian flag’s Centennial, 1884-1984, published by the Société historique acadienne de l’Île-du-Prince-Édouard.)

French Version:

In 1988, the Société nationale de l’Acadie initiated a contest and retained the version of La Voix acadienne journalist, Jacinthe Laforest.  Here are the French lyrics that she composed on the melody of the Ave Maris Stella.

Ave Maris Stella
Dei Mater Alma
Atque Semper Virgo
Felix Coeli Porta (bis)

Acadie ma patrie
À ton nom, je me lie
Ma vie, ma foi sont à toi
Tu me protégeras (bis)

Acadie ma patrie
Ma terre et mon défi
De près, de loin tu me tiens
Mon coeur est acadien (bis)

Acadie ma patrie
Ton histoire, je la vis
La fierté, je te la dois
En l’avenir, je crois (bis)

(Chorus)