National Anthems of the World September 18 2012, 1 Comment

Contributed by: Jack Kopstein A national anthem, hymn, or song is a generally patriotic musical composition that evokes and eulogizes the history, traditions and struggles of its people.  It is 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 to lean towards more operatic pieces, while a handful of countries use a simple fanfare. Although national anthems are usually in the most common language of the country, whether existing  or official, there are notable exceptions.  For example, 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 verse in English, “God Defend New Zealand.” The tune is the same, but the words are not a direct translation 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. National anthems rose to prominence in Europe during the 19th century, but some are much older in origin. The oldest national anthem is "Wilhelmus," the Dutch national anthem, written between 1568 and 1572 during the Dutch Revolt.  It became the official Dutch national 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. "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.  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. World Anthems is a must have recording and is performed by the Millar Brass Ensemble. The renditions of each of the 48 national anthems is superbly crafted . Schools, colleges and universities should have an album of this kind in their library. National Anthems of nations build bridges of common understanding.