The presidential election led me to make some comments about the French national anthem, "la Marseillaise". It has again (as well as the French flag) since some time been brought back to fashion and has actually been sung during the meetings of most of the involved political parties, right, centre or left. Since 2005 it is again compulsory to teach the song in French schools.
It was written in 1792 by Rouget de Lisle, who was more of an army officer than a composer and songwriter. It has been discussed if the music is really by him and in any case it has been rearranged by more professional musicians. It is even said that the first notes can be recognised in one of Mozart's piano concerts (KV 503), composed six years earlier.
Now to the lyrics which with our ears sound quite violent; this was of course a war and revolutionary song.
There are several verses, all equally violent, but let's just have a look on the chorus:
To arms, citizens!
Form your batallions!
Let us march! Let us march!
May tainted blood
water our fields!
There are different interpretations of the "tainted blood". The perhaps somewhat nicer version is to say that the "tainted blood" is to make the difference with the "pure (blue) blood" of the royalty and the nobility, so the "tainted blood" would be the blood of those who fight and resist, thus not referring to enemies, foreigners.
In any case, the wording is not quite in line with what we wish to hear today, but the song is such a symbol that the text can hardly be changed, although several tries have been made, including by Victor Hugo.
To finish, let's remember that the Beatles song "All we need is love" starts with "la Marseillaise".