National anthems are no ubiquitous at official ceremonies, patriotic events and the Summer and Winter Olympics, but for most countries they are a relatively recent invention. The idea of the national anthem became very popular in Europe during the 1800s, with countries around the world later following suit. The history of national anthems yields some truly fascinating facts.
The Oldest Anthem
The Netherlands has the oldest anthem, Wilhelmus, which was composed in the 16th century. The anthem first became popular when the Kingdom of the Netherlands was fighting for independence from Spain. Its lyrics reflect the life of the heroic William of Orange. The song is written in first-person, as if it is being sung by William himself. It is also more placid than many of the more warlike anthems around the world. Although it did not become official until 1932, it was sung throughout the country for centuries.
Some nations prefer music without any lyrics. Spain’s anthem, known as Marcha Real, is instrumental. Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and the tiny principality of San Marino also eschew lyrics.
Countries where people speak more than one national language either incorporate multiple languages or have more than one version. For example, O’Canada has official lyrics for the French and English speaking population. Many Canadians sing a mixture of both languages in the stanzas.
In Switzerland, there are four official languages. The anthem, which is called the Swiss Psalm, thus offers distinct lyrics in French, German, Italian and Romansh.
Amhrán na bhFiann is the official anthem of the Republic of Ireland. Although composed in English, most citizens always sing its Irish translation, even though the traditional Irish language version was never formally adopted.
More Than One Anthem
A handful of nations have more than one anthem. Denmark has both a royal and a national anthem. “Kong Christian” is both the national and royal anthem. Equally important in status, yet more frequently sung is “Der er et yndigt land”, the national anthem. The national anthem is 12 verses long, but only the first, third, fifth and final verse are included.
The South Sudan may have the world’s newest national anthem. “South Sudan Oyee!
Was chosen as anthem for the new country after a contest in 2010. Oyee means hooray. South Sudan officially gained independence in 2011 after seeking to leave the war-torn African country of Sudan. The lyrics are published in English, since English is the country’s official language. However, South Sudan recognizes more than 60 indigenous languages.
Originally posted 2016-07-05 17:43:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter