Bearing in mind that this would have been only a decade after WW2, we would be glared at by some of the ex-service people in the theatre who would have been standing at attention. “Kids today; no respect,” may have been muttered.
The “closing time gallop” was a commonplace joke pretty well throughout the UK, as people tried not to miss “last orders” in the pub, or the last bus home. It features in one scene in "The Smallest Show on Earth (1957) and an episode of Dad’s Army (1972, but set in 1941).
First I had the offending line wrong; it should be “Frustrate their popish tricks”. And lots of people out there claim it was George V who caused the word to change to “knavish”. So maybe it got changed somewhere along the line and he just wanted it to revert to the true original.
Or maybe it’s just an urban legend? I mean, the last Jacobite uprising was in 1745, which was also when that hymn was written, and it definitely said knavish, not Popish.
You can find examples of the lyrics from in between 1745 and George V’s time that say ‘popish’. I found one in a quick google. So it’s not an urban legend that the word was in the lyrics.
Interesting, I had a look and all I could find was people claiming that the word had been used, with no actual texts cited or shown. What’s the one you found, please?
I think they’re the same book. But yeah, that line does appear there. As does a final refrain I’ve never seen anywhere.
So fair enough, someone at least sang it that way. But it wasn’t the version sung as the actual national anthem - that seems to have varied in detail, but never actually included the Scots version, or the knavish version let alone the Popish one, when it was sung on official occasions.
The whole notion of a “national anthem” didn’t surface till nearly a century after the end of the political situation in which the song originated. Indeed, it’s possible it was first written as a song in support of the Catholic James II. There have been various alternative forms of words, but it’s quite rare for it to be played, let alone sung, for more than one verse: and the most common use of the latter is the Britten choral arrangement which defers the bombast to the interestingly conditional verse
"May she defend our laws
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen
Stuff I’ve read suggests that “The National Anthem” was the melody, still played as such, and when “God Save the King” appeared in the back of the new Anglican hymn book, “Hymns Ancient and Modern”, it was a set of words to go with the melody.
(There was no ‘old Anglican hymn book’, because the Church of England didn’t sing hymns in services until after the practice became popular in the non-conformist/dissenting church.)