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Title: Brabançonne  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Alexandre Dechet, Belgium, Le Chant des Wallons, List of national anthems, La Marseillaise
Collection: 1830 Songs, Belgian Anthems, Belgian Revolution, Belgian Songs, National Symbols of Belgium
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Cover of a score of the Brabançonne, dated around 1910

National anthem of  Belgium
Lyrics Alexandre Dechet, 1830
Music François Van Campenhout, 1830
Adopted 1860, current text in 1921
Music sample

The Brabançonne is the national anthem of Belgium. In the originally French language, the term normally refers to Brabant, literally Brabantian in English. The untranslated initial name is maintained for the French, Dutch and the German lyrics, that at a later stage ensured reflecting all three official languages of the country.[1]


  • History 1
  • Lyrics 2
    • 1830 Original Lyrics 2.1
      • First version (August 1830) 2.1.1
      • Second version (September 1830) 2.1.2
      • Third version (1860) 2.1.3
    • Current version 2.2
    • Walloon version (Li Braibançone) 2.3
  • Modern short trilingual version 3
  • See also 4
  • Notes 5
  • External links 6


According to legend, the Belgian national anthem was written in September 1830, during the Belgian Revolution, by a young revolutionary called "Jenneval", who read the lyrics during a meeting at the Aigle d'Or café.

Jenneval, a Frenchman whose real name was Alexandre Dechet (sometimes known as Louis-Alexandre Dechet), did in fact write the Brabançonne. At the time, he was an actor at the theatre where, in August 1830, the revolution started which led to independence from the Netherlands. Jenneval died in the war of independence. François Van Campenhout composed the accompanying score, based on the tune of a French song called "L'Air des lanciers polonais" ("the tune of the Polish Lancers"), written by the French poet Eugène de Pradel, whose tune was itself an adaptation of the tune of a song, "L'Air du magistrat irréprochable", found in a popular collection of drinking songs called "La Clé du caveau" ("The Key to the cellar")[2][3] and it was first performed in September 1830.

In 1860, Belgium formally adopted the song and music as its national anthem, although the then prime minister, Charles Rogier edited out lyrics attacking the Dutch Prince of Orange.

The ending, pledging loyalty to "Le Roi, la Loi, la Liberté!" ("The King, and Law, and Liberty!") is an obvious parallel to the French "Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité" - with the republican sentiment of the original replaced in the Belgian version by the promotion of constitutional monarchy (the combination of "The King" and "(the) Law" is what produces "Liberty"). Actually, a slogan similar to the Belgian one - "la Nation, la Loi, le Roi" ("The Nation, The Law, The King") - had been used in the early days of the French Revolution, when that revolution was still considered to be aimed toward constitutional monarchy rather than a republic.

The Brabançonne is also a monument (1930) by the sculptor Charles Samuel on the Surlet de Chokier square in Brussels. The monument contains partial lyrics of both the French and Dutch versions of the anthem. Like many elements in Belgian folklore, this is mainly based on the French "La Marseillaise" which is also both an anthem and the name of a monument - the sculptural group Departure of the Volunteers of 1792, commonly called "La Marseillaise", at the base of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.


Score of the Brabançonne
Lithograph of Jenneval
Lithograph of Campenhout singing the Brabançonne
The Brabançonne monument in Brussels

1830 Original Lyrics

First version (August 1830)

Second version (September 1830)

Third version (1860)

Current version

Various committees were charged with reviewing the text and tune of the Brabançonne and establishing an official version. A ministerial circular of the Ministry of the Interior on August 8, 1921, decreed that only the fourth verse of the text by Charles Rogier should be considered official, both in French, German and in Dutch. Here below:

Walloon version (Li Braibançone)

Modern short trilingual version

In recent years, an unofficial short version of the anthem is sung during Belgian National Day on July 21 yearly, combining the words of the anthem in all three of Belgium's official languages, similar to the bilingual version of O Canada.

See also


  1. ^ In English, one may refer to Brabant by the adjectives Brabantine or Brabantian, but only the latter term is (nearly) as general as French "Brabançon", which can also be a substantive for e.g. the dialect, a man, or a horse or its breed from Brabant. In French, "Brabançonne" is the feminine gender of adjective "Brabançon" and matches the preceding definite article "la", thus might fit an implied e.g. "chanson", ('song') (cf. the official name of the French hymn: "la Marseillaise", "(song) having to do with the city of Marseille"). But neither the female definite article in German "die Brabançonne" nor the male "den Brabançonne" in Brabantian aka Brabantine dialects of Dutch can fit 'song', which is "Lied" in German and "lied" in Dutch, both of neutre genus. In today's standard Dutch, "de Brabançonne" does not betray whether the gender is male or female, but can not be used for a neutre substantive either, and referring to "de Brabançonne" by "hij" confirms the male interpretation of Dutch dialects. For the anthem name in English, as in Dutch, German, and of course French, Brabançonne can be considered a proper noun.
  2. ^ "Courrier des Pays-Bas: La Brabançonne.". Retrieved 3 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Francis Martens, La Belgique en chantant, pp.19-40, in Antoine Pickels and Jacques Sojcher (eds.), Belgique: toujours grande et belle, issues 1-2, Éditions Complexe, Brussels, 1998
  4. ^ a b c d e For WorldHeritage.
  5. ^ St. Michael the Archangel, a patron saint of Brussels. The image seems to be of the Belgian flag flying from the towers of St. Michael and St. Gudula Cathedral, Brussels.

External links

  • - Audio of the national anthem of Belgium, with information and lyricsLa BrabançonneBelgium:
  • Les Arquebusiers History, versions (text and audio) and illustrations
  • Belgium National Anthem instrumental File MIDI (5ko)
  • Belgium National Anthem instrumental (better) File AU (570ko)
  • YouTube Helmut Lotti sings the Brabançonne in French, Dutch and German before King Albert II
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