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National song

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National song

For the Lana Del Rey song, see National Anthem (song). For the Radiohead song, see The National Anthem. For The Gaslight Anthem song, see Handwritten (album).

File:Russian anthem at Victory Day Parade 2010.ogg

A national anthem (also national hymn, national song etc.) is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people, recognized either by a nation's government as the official national song, or by convention through use by the people. The majority of national anthems are either marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America tend towards more operatic pieces, while a handful of countries use a simple fanfare.[1]


Although national anthems are usually in the most common language of the country, whether de facto or official, there are notable exceptions. India's anthem, Jana Gana Mana, is in a highly Sanskritized version of Bengali. States with more than one national language may offer several versions of their anthem: For instance, Switzerland's anthem has different lyrics for each of the country's four official languages (French, German, Italian and Romansh). Canada's national anthem has different lyrics for both of the country's official languages (English and French), and on some occasions is sung with a mixture of stanzas taken from its French and English versions.

South Africa's national anthem is unique in that five of the country's eleven official languages are used in the same anthem (the first stanza is divided between two languages, with each of the remaining three stanzas in a different language).

Apart from God Save the Queen, the New Zealand national anthem is now traditionally sung with the first verse in Māori (Aotearoa) and the second in English (God Defend New Zealand). The tune is the same but the words are not a direct translation of each other. God Bless Fiji has lyrics in English and Fijian which are not translations of each other.

Another multilingual country, Spain, has no words in its anthem, La Marcha Real, although in 2007 a national competition to write words was unsuccessfully launched.[2] Inno Nazionale della Repubblica, the anthem of San Marino has no official lyrics. Europe, the anthem of the Republic of Kosovo has no lyrics.


National anthems rose to prominence in Europe during the 19th century, but some are much older in origin. The oldest national anthem is the Wilhelmus, the Dutch anthem, written between 1568 and 1572 during the Dutch Revolt, which became the official anthem in 1932.

The Japanese anthem, Kimi ga Yo, has its lyrics taken from a Heian period (794–1185) poem, yet it was not set to music until 1880.[4]

Pakistan's National Anthem is unique since its music, composed in 1950, preceded its lyrics that were written in 1952.[5]

God Save the Queen, the national anthem of the United Kingdom and one of the two national anthems of New Zealand, was first performed in 1745 under the title God Save the King.

Spain's national anthem, the Marcha Real (The Royal March), dates from 1770 (written in 1761).

The oldest of Denmark's two national anthems, Kong Christian stod ved højen mast was adopted in 1780 and La Marseillaise, the French anthem, was written in 1792 and adopted in 1795. Serbia was the first Eastern European nation to have a national anthem, Rise up, Serbia! in 1804.

The Lupang Hinirang of the Philippines was composed in 1898 as the anthem in the Declaration of Independence of the first republic of Asia.

Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, national anthem of Kenya, is one of the first national anthems to be specifically commissioned. It was written by the Kenyan Anthem Commission in 1963 to serve as the anthem after independence from the United Kingdom.[6]


National anthems are used in a wide array of contexts. Certain etiquette may be involved in the playing of a country's anthem. These usually involve military honours, standing up, removing headwear, etc. In diplomatic situations the rules may be very formal. There may also be royal anthems, presidential anthems, state anthems, etc. for special occasions.

They are played on national holidays and festivals, and have also come to be closely connected with sporting events. During sporting competitions, such as the Olympic Games, the national anthem of the gold medal winner is played at each medal ceremony; also played before games in many sports leagues, since being adopted in baseball during World War II.[7] When teams from two different nations play each other, the anthems of both nations are played, the host nation's anthem being played last.

In some countries, the national anthem is played to students each day at the start of school as an exercise in patriotism. In other countries the anthem may be played in a theatre before a play or in a cinema before a movie. Many radio and television stations have adopted this and play the national anthem when they sign on in the morning and again when they sign off at night. For instance, the nation anthem of the People's Republic of China is played before the broadcast of evening news on Hong Kong's local television stations including TVB and ATV Home.[8] In Colombia it is a law to play the National Anthem at 6:00 and 18:00 on every public radio and television stations.

The use of a national anthem outside of its country, however, is dependent on the international recognition of that country. For instance, the Republic of China (commonly known as Taiwan) has not been recognized by the Olympics as a separate nation since 1979 and must compete as Chinese Taipei; its National Banner Song is used instead of its national anthem.[9] In the Republic of China, the National Anthem is sung before instead of during flag-rising and flag-lowering, followed by the National Banner Song during the actual flag-rising and flag-lowering.

Shared anthems

Although anthems are used to distinguish states and territories, there are instances of shared anthems. Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika became a pan-African liberation anthem and was later adopted as the national anthem of five countries in Africa including Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe after independence. Zimbabwe and Namibia have since adopted new national anthems. Since 1997, the South African national anthem has been a hybrid song combining new English lyrics with extracts of Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrika and the former anthem Die Stem van Suid-Afrika.

Ireland's Call Is a late 20th Century tune composed as a potential national anthem to represent the island of Ireland or a potential future united Ireland. It is primarily used at International Rugby matches, and increasingly for other sports where a team representing the whole of Ireland is competing. Traditionally all Ireland teams had previously stood, and in many cases still do stand to the national anthem of the Republic of Ireland, even when represnting both it and neighbouring Northern Ireland. The tune has also been used for non sporting events where the whole of Ireland is being recognised but wishes to avoid the more political and divisive anthems of the two parts of the island.

Hymn to Liberty is the longest national anthem in the world by length of text.[10] In 1865, the first three stanzas and later the first two officially became the national anthem of Greece and later also that of the Republic of Cyprus.

Forged from the Love of Liberty was originally composed as the national anthem for the short-lived West Indies Federation (1958-1962), and was adopted by Trinidad and Tobago when it became independent in 1962.[11]

Esta É a Nossa Pátria Bem Amada is the national anthem of Guinea-Bissau and was also the national anthem of Cape Verde until 1996.

Oben am jungen Rhein, national anthem of Liechtenstein is set to the tune of God Save the Queen. Other anthems that have historically used the same melody include Heil dir im Siegerkranz, Kongesangen, My Country, 'Tis of Thee, Rufst du, mein Vaterland, E Ola Ke Alii Ke Akua, and The Prayer of Russians.

The Estonian anthem Mu isamaa, mu õnn ja rõõm is set to a melody composed in 1848 by Fredrik (Friedrich) Pacius which is also that of the national anthem of Finland: Maamme ("Vårt Land" in Swedish).[12] It is also considered to be national anthem for the Livonian people with lyrics Min izāmō, min sindimō, My Fatherland, my native land.

Hey, Slavs is dedicated to Slavic peoples. Its first lyrics were written in 1834 under the title Hey, Slovaks (Hej, Slováci) by Samuel Tomášik and it has since served as the anthem of the Pan-Slavic movement, the anthem of the Sokol physical education and political movement, the anthem of the SFR Yugoslavia and the transitional anthem of the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro. The song is also considered to be the second, unofficial anthem of the Slovaks. Its melody is based on Mazurek Dąbrowskiego, which has been also the anthem of Poland since 1926, but the Yugoslav variation is much slower and more accentuated.[13]

Between 1991 and 1994 Deșteaptă-te, române! was the anthem of both Romania and Moldova, but was subsequently replaced by the current Moldovan anthem, Limba noastră.

The modern national anthem of Germany, Das Lied der Deutschen,[14] uses the same tune as the 19th and early 20th-century Austro-Hungarian anthem Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser.[15]

The Hymn of the Soviet Union,[16] used until its dissolution in 1991, which was given new words and adopted by the Russian Federation in 2000 to replace the unpopular instrumental anthem it had introduced in 1993.[17][18]

Bro Gozh ma Zadoù, the anthem of Brittany and, Bro Goth Agan Tasow, the Cornish anthem, are sung to the same tune as that of Wales, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, with similar words.

For parts of states

The former Soviet Union and the United Kingdom, amongst others, are notionally held to be unions of many "nations" by various definitions. Each of the different nations may have their own "national anthem" and these songs may be officially recognized.

Fourteen of the fifteen republics of the Soviet Union had their own official song which was used at events connected to that republic. The Russian republic used the USSR's national anthem until 1990. Some republics retained the melodies of those songs after the dissolution of the USSR (see the article National anthems of the Soviet Union and Union Republics).

The United Kingdom's national anthem is God Save the Queen but its constituent countries also have their own anthems which have varying degrees of official recognition. England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland each have a number of songs which may be played at occasions such as sports matches and official events. The song usually used as an anthem for England is God Save the Queen, though sometimes Jerusalem, I Vow To Thee, My Country, and Land of Hope and Glory may be played instead. Scotland has relatively recently adopted Flower of Scotland as its unofficial national anthem, while Wales has sung Mae Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau since the 19th century and was sometimes accompanied by the hymn, Guide Me O thy Great Redeemer, the use of which has been discontinued. Northern Ireland has traditionally used God Save the Queen though Londonderry Air is also used.

In the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia, each of the republics (except the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina) had the right to its own national anthem, but only the Socialist Republic of Croatia had an anthem of its own, later joined by the Socialist Republic of Slovenia on the brink of the breakup of Yugoslavia. The Socialist Republic of Macedonia did not officially use an anthem, even though one was proclaimed during the World War II by ASNOM.

In Belgium, Wallonia uses Le Chant des Wallons and Flanders uses De Vlaamse Leeuw.

Czechoslovakia used to have an anthem composed from two parts, the Czech and the Slovak one. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the Czech Republic adopted the first part as its own anthem, Slovakia adopted the second part with slightly changed lyrics and an additional stanza.

Although the United States has The Star-Spangled Banner as its official national anthem, each individual state also has its own state anthem and songs.

The Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, having previously been the independent Dominion of Newfoundland prior to 1949, also has its own anthem from its days as a dominion and British colony, the Ode to Newfoundland. Until 2010, it was the only Canadian province with its own anthem (Prince Edward Island adopted the 1908 song The Island Hymn as its provincial anthem in 2010).

In Mexico, after the national anthem was established in 1854, most of the states of the Federation adopted local anthems, which often emphasize heroes, virtues or particular landscapes.

International organizations

Larger entities also sometimes have 'national' anthems, in some cases known as 'international anthems'. The Internationale is the anthem of the socialist movement, and the communist movement. Before March 1944, it was also the anthem of the Soviet Union and the Comintern. The tune of the Ode to Joy from Beethoven's Symphony No. 9 is the European anthem; the United Nations[19] and the African Union[20] (Let Us All Unite and Celebrate Together) also have unofficial anthems. The Olympic Movement also has its own anthem. Esperanto speakers at meetings often use the song La Espero as their anthem. UNESCO is considering making Earth Anthem by Indian poet-diplomat Abhay Kumar a global initiative.[21][22]


Most of the best-known national anthems were written by little-known or unknown composers such as Claude Joseph Rouget de Lisle, composer of La Marseillaise and John Stafford Smith who wrote the tune for The Anacreontic Song, which became the tune for The Star-Spangled Banner. The author of God Save the Queen, one of the oldest and best known anthems in the world, is unknown and disputed.

Very few countries have a national anthem written by a world renowned composer, some exceptions are Germany, whose anthem Das Lied der Deutschen uses a melody written by Joseph Haydn and Austria, whose national anthem Land der Berge, Land am Strome was sometimes credited to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. The Anthem of the Armenian Soviet Socialist Republic was composed by Aram Khachaturian. The music of the Pontifical Anthem, anthem of the Vatican City, was composed in 1869 by Charles Gounod, for the golden jubilee of Pope Pius IX's priestly ordination.

The committee charged with choosing a national anthem for Malaysia at independence decided to invite selected composers of international repute to submit compositions for consideration, including Benjamin Britten, William Walton, Gian Carlo Menotti and Zubir Said, who later composed Majulah Singapura, the anthem of Singapore. None were deemed suitable.

A few anthems have been composed by Nobel prize winners. India and Bangladesh adopted two songs written by the first Asian Nobel prize winner and noted Bengali poet/author Rabindranath Tagore as their national anthems, Jana Gana Mana and Amar Shonar Bangla, respectively. This is a very rare occasion where one person is the author of the national anthems of two different countries, if not unique. Nobel prize winner Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson wrote the lyrics for the Norwegian national anthem Ja, vi elsker dette landet. Other countries had their anthems composed by locally important people. This is the case for Colombia, whose anthem's lyrics were written by former president and poet Rafael Nuñez, who also wrote the country's constitution.


While most national anthems are in the standard major scale, there are a number of notable exceptions. "İstiklâl Marşı" (Turkey), "Qaumī Tarāna" (Pakistan), "Mila Rodino" (Bulgaria), "Nad Tatrou sa blýska"' (Slovakia), "Hatikvah" (Israel), "Surudi Milli" (Tajikistan), "Azərbaycan marşı" (Azerbaijan), "Mawtini" (Iraq), "Deșteaptă-te, române!" (Romania) and "Meniñ Qazaqstanım" (Kazakhstan) are in a minor scale, while "Kimi ga Yo" (Japan), "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (Kenya), "Druk tsendhen" (Bhutan), and "Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka" (Nepal) use pentatonic scales. "Ey Iran" (Iran, unofficial) uses the Phrygian mode (known in Middle Eastern music as a variety of maqam kurd) and Garaşsyz, Bitarap Türkmenistanyň Döwlet Gimni (Turkmenistan) uses the Mixolydian mode. The national anthem of South Africa and Il Canto degli Italiani (Italy) do not end in the same key in which they start.[23][24] The Afghan National Anthem uses parallel key modulation.

See also


External links

  • Patriotism and Nationalism in Music Education (Ashgate press, 2012)
  • lyric and vocal of national anthems of every countries
  • National anthems of every country in the world (and historical national anthems) with streaming audio, lyrics, information and links
  • National anthem videos, lyrics and instrumental music of national anthems for many countries of the world.
  • National Anthems (mp3 files)
  • lyric and instrumental of national anthems every countries' around the world
  •, lyric and history of national anthems every countries' around the world
  •, online forum on lyrics, sheet music and links of national anthems
  • Cuban National Anthem Website Cuban National Anthem interpreted by Cuban artists with music and voice.
  • United States Navy Band


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