ESSENTIALS

Sarnia Cherie

Guernsey’s official anthem is Sarnia Cherie (Dear Guernsey). The original English-language lyrics were written by George Deighton in 1911, and the accompanying music composed by Domenico Santangelo the same year.

The video below is an archive recording of Sarnia Cherie being sung on Liberation Day, 9 May 1945.

Sarnia Cherie was the original name of The Book of Ebenezer Le Page, but it was changed by the publisher who used its original sub-title as its main title.

Copyright in the music is now owned by Ray Lowe and it’s available from him in sheet form from, as well as from the Guernsey Press Shop and Beekers Shop. A Guernesiais translation was made in 2012 by Hazel Tomlinson, a member of a group of local patois-speaking singers and dancers called La Guaine du Vouest.

The English lyrics are as follows.

Sarnia; dear Homeland, Gem of the sea.
Island of beauty, my heart longs for thee.
Thy voice calls me ever, in waking, or sleep,
Till my soul cries with anguish, my eyes ache to weep.
In fancy I see thee, again as of yore,
Thy verdure clad hills and thy wave beaten shore.
Thy rock sheltered bays, ah; of all thou art best,
I’m returning to greet thee, dear island of rest.

CHORUS

Sarnia Cherie. Gem of the sea.
Home of my childhood, my heart longs for thee.
Thy voice calls me ever, forget thee I’ll never,
Island of beauty. Sarnia Cherie.

I left thee in anger, I knew not thy worth.
Journeyed afar, to the ends of the earth.
Was told of far countries, the heav’n of the bold,
Where the soil gave up diamonds, silver and gold.
The sun always shone, and “race” took no part,
But thy cry always reached me, its pain wrenched my heart.
So I’m coming home, thou of all art the best.
Returning to greet thee, dear island of rest.

CHORUS

Although Remus Carey is well aware of the Guernesiais version of Sarnia Cherie and might have been expected to sing it when being interrogated by Marie Budzinski in the second volume of The Sarnian, Blowfish, he actually sings a more obscure and lesser known song that is closely related to the anthem. Sadly it exists only as a fragment, as reproduced below. The remainder has been lost to history.

Unfortunately it was recorded by Freidmann Holtzer when he was visiting Carey in Hamburg and automatically translated by transcription computers at Interpol headquarters, which have a very weak understanding of Guernesiais. The grammar is therefore poorly constructed throughout.

Sarnia Chérie, rocque préciaeuse d’la maïr
P’tite mais terrou forte, vous protégiaï vote paeuplle.
Dans les saisaons d’nos épreuves vous aêtes note bouan caonfort;
nou s’fi’ra su vous autché l’jour d’sa mort.

Y a énne achie qué vous étaites
dans les saonges à nos fréres tchérus
qui leuve laeus tchoeurs en haout à vote houneur.

Tandis qu’nos soeurs
tous les jours djaette par su la maïr
en s’fiànt su vous d’aête su vos gardes caonte les picogniaeus.

Sarnia Chérie, rocque préciaeuse d’la maïr
P’tite mais terrou forte, vous protégiaï vote paeuplle.
Dans les saisaons d’nos épreuves vous aêtes note bouan caonfort;
nou s’fi’ra su vous autché l’jour d’sa mort.

Vote peuplle saït qué vous
d’meuraï dans nos tchoeurs
et à mais qu’nou meure vous nous leuvraï en haout.

It translates as follows:

Sarnia Cherie, jewel of the sea
small but ever strong, you keep your people safe.
In the seasons of our trials you are our great comfort;
we trust you until the day we die.

You have long been
in the dreams of our brave brothers
who lift their hearts high in your honour

While our sisters,
every day keep watch across the sea,
trust you to guard against agressors

Sarnia Cherie, jewel of the sea
small but ever strong, you keep your people safe.
In the seasons of our trials you are our great comfort;
we trust you until the day we die.

Your people know that you
live in our hearts
and when we die you will lift us high

The Guernsey Language Commission deserves thanks for its assistance in correcting the author’s original Guernesiais version of this song. The commission was set up to help preserve Guernsey’s local language, and details of its services, which include free assistance with Guernesiais translations, can be found at language.gg.
The Sarnian Book 1: Dead in the Water

Read more about Sarnia Cherie

A body on a beach, an impossible alibi and an unstoppable race against time!

Sarnia Cherie appears in The Sarnian, the explosive adventure series in which the discovery of a dead body on one of Guernsey's most secluded beaches blows the lid on a world of intrigue and deceit.

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