History and lyrics of St-Martin/St-Maarten’s national song. I love this song and i’m so proud to sing it (though i’m not sure windows don’t break when i sing it hahaha :p :D). Hope you’ll enjoy the words as much as i do. The text and the lyrics are from St-Maarten’s government site. You can also find on that site a sound track of the anthem. The two paintings published here were done by Bevil Byam Donawa, an artist from Trinidad and Tobago that lived several years in St-Maarten.
O Sweet Saint Martin’s Land is the bi-national song of Saint-Martin/Sint-Maarten island, in the Caribbean, this island being divided between France and Kingdom of the Netherlands.
This full original version was written by the french side catholic Father Gerard Kemps in 1958.
Where over the world, say where,
You find an island there,
So lovely small with nations free
With people French and Dutch
Though talking English much,
As thee Saint Martin in the sea ?
O sweet Saint Martin’s Land
So bright by beach and strand
With sailors on the sea and harbors free
Where the chains of mountains green
Variously in sunlight sheen
O I love thy Paradise,
Nature-beauty fairly nice (twice)
How pretty between all green
Flamboyants beaming gleam
Of flowers red by sunlight set
Thy cows and sheep and goats
In meadows or on roads
Thy donkeys keen can’t I forget
Saint Martin I love thy name
In which Columbus fame
And memories of old are those
For me a great delight
Thy Southern Cross the night
May God the Lord protect thy coast !
Father Kemp’s Legacy
Father Gerard Kemps was born in Venraay (Netherlands) in 1902. In 1954, he was appointed as priest for the Catholic Church of French St-Martin where he worked during 30 years. Four years after his arrival in St-Martin, Father Gerard Kemps composed lyrics and a melody to sing of the sweetness, the grace, and the incomparable beauty of the land that was unfolding before his eyes.
In 1958, Father Gerard Kemps created “O Sweet Saint Martin’s Land”. Because of the message the lyrics conveyed and the melody that carried the tune, it served the purpose of a national song.
In 1984, on the occasion of the Queen’s Birthday, Father Kemps was knighted “Ridder in de Orde van Oranje van Nassau”.
Although there are some now on St. Martin who are unaware of Father Kemps, his legacy lives on in the St. Martin’s song.