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French CD bid to revive patriotism

Napoleon had banned the 'Marseillaise'  

PARIS, France -- Thousands of French schools are to receive a CD of the national anthem -- to remind pupils of its tune and lyrics.

The discs will feature traditional and wacky versions of the "Marseillaise" including French singer Serge Gainsbourg's controversial reggae version and a house remix.

Some right-wing politicians have been calling for the measure amid growing concern that the anthem is being forgotten.

French Education Minister Jack Lang said the CD's are being sent out to all schools in an effort to encourage knowledge of its words and melody.

Other versions on the CD include a Brazilian samba version and a rendition in Arabic.

The schools will also receive a glossy book aimed at helping children understand the history of their national song.

Lang said: "The aim of the project is to make children better understand their history and heritage."

The anthem was composed in the southern port town of Marseille during the 1789-1792 French revolution.

Calling the people to revolution and freedom, but not specifically citing the glory of France, the Marseillaise was played as troops marched into Paris to oust the king.

But it was banned by Napoleon for its radical tone and only reinstated in 1879.

"Schools help create cohesion and the Marseillaise can help cement people from different backgrounds together," Lang added.

Marc Olivier Dupin, who is in charge of music at the Education Ministry, said researchers for the project had found hundreds of versions of the song, in dozens of languages.

"Unlike other national anthems the words are not just specific to France," he said.


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