The Conservative government has backed down on a proposal to change the lyrics of Canada's national anthem 'O Canada' after a public outcry. ((Adrian Wyld/Canadian Press))

The federal government, which sparked controversy after suggesting it might make changes to the lyrics of O Canada, has decided to leave the national anthem alone.

"We offered to hear from Canadians on this issue and they have already spoken loud and clear. They overwhelmingly do not want to open the issue," said Dimitri Soudas, a spokesman for the Prime Minister's Office. "The government will not proceed any further to change our national anthem."

The speech from the throne, delivered by Gov. Gen. Michaëlle Jean, said Parliament would be asked to review the "original gender-neutral wording of the national anthem."

O Canada includes the lyrics "true patriot love in all thy sons command," and there was some discussion about changing the line to be less gender-specific. The original words contained the line "thou dost in us command."

The proposal sparked a mass outcry from Canadians who objected to any change to the lyrics.

O Canada, with music composed by Calixa Lavallée in 1880, became the first official national anthem in 1980.

Its English lyrics have been adapted several times over the years, but the current version is based on a poem written in 1908 by Stanley Weir.

The official English version now in use incorporates changes recommended in 1968 by a joint committee of MPs and senators that added the lines "from far and wide" and "God keep our land glorious and free!"