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A national anthem is a country's national song. The majority of national anthems are marches or hymns in style. Latin American, Central Asian, and European nations tend towards more ornate and operatic pieces, while those in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa, and the Caribbean use a more simplistic fanfare.Some countries that are devolved into multiple constituent states have their own official musical compositions for them (such as with the United Kingdom, Russia, and the former Soviet Union); their constituencies' songs are sometimes referred to as national anthems even though they are not sovereign states.
The custom of an officially adopted national anthem became popular in the 19th century.
They are often patriotic songs that may have been in existence long before their designation as national anthem. The national anthem of the Netherlands, "Wilhelmus", officially adopted as national anthem in 1932, originates in the 16th century: It was written between 1568 and 1572 during the Dutch Revolt and its current melody variant was composed shortly before 1626, and was a popular orangist march during the 17th century. The Japanese national anthem, "Kimigayo" (adopted 1999), was composed in 1880, but its lyrics are taken from a Heian period (794–1185) poem.
In the early modern period, some European monarchies adopted royal anthems. Some of these anthems have survived into current use. "God Save the King/Queen", first performed in 1619, remains the royal anthem of the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth realms. La Marcha Real , adopted as the royal anthem of the Spanish monarchy in 1770, was adopted as the national anthem of Spain in 1939. Denmark retains its royal anthem, Kong Christian stod ved højen mast (1780) alongside its national anthem ( Der er et yndigt land , adopted 1835). In 1802, Gia Long commissioned a royal anthem in the European fashion for the Kingdom of Vietnam.
The first national anthem to be officially adopted was La Marseillaise , for the First French Republic. Composed in 1792, it was officially adopted by the French National Convention in 1796. It was retired in favour of Chant du départ under the First French Empire, and was re-instated in 1830, in the wake of the July Revolution. From this time, it became common for newly formed nations to define national anthems, notably as a result of the Latin American wars of independence, for Argentina (1813), Peru (1821), Brazil (1831) but also Belgium (1830).
Adoption of national anthems prior to the 1930s was mostly by newly formed or newly independent states, such as the First Portuguese Republic ( A Portuguesa , 1911), the Kingdom of Greece ("Hymn to Liberty", 1865), the First Philippine Republic ( Marcha Nacional Filipina , 1898), Lithuania ( Tautiška giesmė , 1919), Weimar Germany ( Deutschlandlied , 1922), Republic of Ireland ( Amhrán na bhFiann , 1926) and Greater Lebanon ("Lebanese National Anthem", 1927).
The Olympic Charter of 1920 introduced the ritual of playing the national anthems of the gold medal winners. From this time, the playing of national anthems became increasingly popular at international sporting events, creating an incentive for such nations that did not yet have an officially defined national anthem to introduce one.
The United States introduced the patriotic song The Star-Spangled Banner as a national anthem in 1931. Following this, several nations moved to adopt as official national anthem patriotic songs that had already been in de facto use at official functions, such as Mexico ( Mexicanos, al grito de guerra , composed 1854, adopted 1943) and Switzerland ("Swiss Psalm", composed 1841, de facto use from 1961, adopted 1981).
By the period of decolonisation in the 1960s, it had become common practice for newly independent nations to adopt an official national anthem. Some of these anthems were specifically commissioned, such as the anthem of Kenya, Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu , produced by a dedicated "Kenyan Anthem Commission" in 1963.
A number of nations remain without an official national anthem. In these cases, there are established de facto anthems played at sporting events or diplomatic receptions. These include the United Kingdom ("God Save the Queen"), Sweden ( Du gamla, Du fria ) and Norway ( Ja, vi elsker dette landet ). Countries that have moved to officially adopt their long-standing de facto anthems since the 1990s include: Luxembourg ( Ons Heemecht , adopted 1993), South Africa ("National anthem of South Africa", adopted 1997), Israel ( Hatikvah , composed 1888, de facto use from 1948, adopted 2004), Italy ( Il Canto degli Italiani , adopted 2017).
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/rising, 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. Wales was the first country to adopt this, during a rugby game against New Zealand in 1905. Since then 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.When teams from two 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, such as in Tanzania.In other countries the state 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 national anthem of China is played before the broadcast of evening news on Hong Kong's local television stations including TVB Jade. In Colombia, it is a law to play the National Anthem at 6:00 and 18:00 on every public radio and television station, while in Thailand, "Phleng Chat Thai" is played at 08:00 and 18:00 nationwide (the Royal Anthem is used for sign-ons and closedowns instead).
The use of a national anthem outside of its country, however, is dependent on the international recognition of that country. For instance, Taiwan has not been recognized by the International Olympic Committee as a separate nation since 1979 and must compete as Chinese Taipei; its "National Banner Song" is used instead of its national anthem.In Taiwan, the country's 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. Even within a state, the state's citizenry may interpret the national anthem differently (such as in the United States some view the U.S. national anthem as representing respect for dead soldiers and policemen whereas others view it as honoring the country generally).
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 U.S. national anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner." The author of "God Save the Queen", one of the oldest and most well known anthems in the world, is unknown and disputed.
Very few countries have a national anthem written by a world-renowned composer. Exceptions include 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" is 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 the Federation of Malaya (later 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 national anthem of Singapore. None were deemed suitable. The tune eventually selected was (and still is) the anthem of the constituent state of Perak, which was in turn adopted from a popular French melody titled "La Rosalie" composed by the lyricist Pierre-Jean de Béranger.
A few anthems have words by Nobel laureates in literature. The first Asian laureate, Rabindranath Tagore, wrote the words and music of "Jana Gana Mana" and "Amar Shonar Bangla", later adopted as the national anthems of India and Bangladesh respectively. 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 first constitution. A similar case is Liberia, the national anthem of which was written by its third president, Daniel Bashiel Warner.
A national anthem, when it has lyrics (as is usually the case), is most often in the national or most common language of the country, whether de facto or official, there are notable exceptions. Most commonly, states with more than one national language may offer several versions of their anthem, for instance:
An anthem is a musical composition of celebration, usually used as a symbol for a distinct group, particularly the national anthems of countries. Originally, and in music theory and religious contexts, it also refers more particularly to short sacred choral work and still more particularly to a specific form of liturgical music. In this sense, its use began ca. 1550 in English-speaking churches; it uses English language words, in contrast to the originally Roman Catholic 'motet' which sets a Latin text.
The "National Anthem of Chile", also known as Canción Nacional or by its incipit Puro, Chile, es tu cielo azulado, was adopted in 1828. It has a history of two lyrics and two melodies that made up three different versions. The current version was composed by Ramón Carnicer, with words by Eusebio Lillo, and has six parts plus the chorus.
"God Save the Queen" is the royal anthem in a number of Commonwealth realms, their territories and the British Crown dependencies. The author of the tune is unknown, and it may originate in plainchant; but an attribution to the composer John Bull is sometimes made.
"Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" is the national anthem of Wales. The title, taken from the first words of the song, means "Old Land of My Fathers" in Welsh, usually rendered in English as simply "Land of My Fathers". The words were written by Evan James and the tune composed by his son, James James, both residents of Pontypridd, Glamorgan, in January 1856. The earliest written copy survives and is part of the collections of the National Library of Wales.
"O Canada" is the national anthem of Canada. The song was originally commissioned by Lieutenant Governor of Quebec Théodore Robitaille for the 1880 Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day ceremony; Calixa Lavallée composed the music, after which, words were written by the poet and judge Sir Adolphe-Basile Routhier. The original lyrics were in French; an English translation was published in 1906. Multiple English versions ensued, with Robert Stanley Weir's version in 1908 gaining the most popularity, eventually serving as the basis for the official lyrics enacted by Parliament. Weir's lyrics have been revised three times, most recently when An Act to amend the National Anthem Act (gender) was enacted in 2018. The French lyrics remain unaltered. "O Canada" had served as a de facto national anthem since 1939, officially becoming the country's national anthem in 1980 when Canada's National Anthem Act received royal assent and became effective on July 1 as part of that year's Dominion Day celebrations.
"Wilhelmus van Nassouwe", usually known just as "Wilhelmus", is the national anthem of the Netherlands. It dates back to at least 1572, making it the national anthem with the oldest music. Although the "Wilhelmus" was not recognized as the official national anthem until 1932, it has always been popular with parts of the Dutch population and resurfaced on several occasions in the course of Dutch history before gaining its present status. It was also the anthem of the Netherlands Antilles from 1954 to 1964.
"Lupang Hinirang", lit. 'Chosen Land'; originally titled in Spanish as the Marcha Nacional Filipina, is the national anthem of the Philippines. Its music was composed in 1898 by Julián Felipe, and the lyrics were adapted from the Spanish poem Filipinas, written by José Palma in 1899.
"Himnusz" is the national anthem of Hungary. The words were written by Ferenc Kölcsey, a nationally renowned poet, in 1823, and its currently official musical setting was composed by the romantic composer Ferenc Erkel in 1844, although other less-known musical versions exist. The poem bore the subtitle "A magyar nép zivataros századaiból" ; it is often argued that this subtitle – by emphasising past rather than contemporary national troubles – was added expressly to enable the poem to pass Habsburg censorship. The full meaning of the poem's text is evident only to those well acquainted with Hungarian history. The first stanza is sung at official ceremonies and as well in common. It was de facto used as hymn of the Kingdom of Hungary from its composition in 1844, and was officially adopted as national anthem of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989.
"Ja, vi elsker dette landet" is the Norwegian national anthem. Originally a patriotic song, it came to be commonly regarded as the de facto national anthem of Norway in the early 20th century, after being used alongside "Sønner av Norge" since the 1860s. It was officially adopted in 2019. The lyrics were written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson between 1859 and 1868, and the melody was written by his cousin Rikard Nordraak sometime during the winter of 1863 and 1864. It was first performed publicly on 17 May 1864 in connection with the 50th anniversary of the constitution. Usually only the first and the last two verses are sung.
The "Argentine National Anthem" ; is the national anthem of Argentina. Its lyrics were written by the Buenos Aires-born politician Vicente López y Planes and the music was composed by the Spanish musician Blas Parera. The work was adopted as the sole official song on May 11, 1813, three years after the May Revolution; May 11 is therefore now Anthem Day in Argentina.
The "Swiss Psalm" is the national anthem of Switzerland.
The "Brazilian National Anthem" was composed by Francisco Manuel da Silva in 1831 and had been given at least two sets of unofficial lyrics before a 1922 decree by President Epitácio Pessoa gave the anthem its definitive, official lyrics, by Joaquim Osório Duque-Estrada, after several changes were made to his proposal, written in 1909.
"Aegukka", officially translated as the "Patriotic Song", is the national anthem of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, more commonly known outside the country as North Korea. It was composed in 1945 as a patriotic song celebrating independence from Japanese occupation and was adopted as the state anthem in 1947.
"Pátria" is the national anthem of East Timor. It was originally adopted when East Timor unilaterally declared its independence from Portugal in 1975. However, this usage would be short-lived, when the country was infamously invaded by Indonesia. It was officially re-adopted when the independence of East Timor was finally restored in 2002 following a United Nations intervention.
"God Defend New Zealand" is one of two national anthems of New Zealand, the other being "God Save the Queen". Legally the two have equal status, but "God Defend New Zealand" is more commonly used. Originally written as a poem, it was set to music as part of a competition in 1876. Over the years its popularity increased, and it was eventually named the second national anthem in 1977. It has English and Māori lyrics, with slightly different meanings. Since the late 1990s, the usual practice when performed in public is to perform the first verse of the national anthem twice, first in Māori and then in English.
Negaraku is the national anthem of Malaysia. It was selected as a national anthem at the time of the Federation of Malaya's independence from the UK in 1957. The tune was originally used as the regional anthem of Perak, which was adopted from a popular French melody titled "La Rosalie" composed by the lyricist Pierre-Jean de Béranger.
Kungssången is the Swedish royal anthem. It is also known by its first line, Ur svenska hjärtans djup en gång. Although sung on such occasions as the King's birthday, the annual opening of the Riksdag and the Nobel Prize ceremony, the song is not considered the Swedish national anthem. Du gamla, Du fria is the de facto national anthem of Sweden, but has never been officially recognised.
Patriotic music in Canada dates back over 200 years as a distinct category from British or French patriotism, preceding the first legal steps to independence by over 50 years. The earliest, "The Bold Canadian", was written in 1812.
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