Ja, vi elsker dette landet

"Ja, vi elsker dette landet" (Norwegian pronunciation: [ˈjɑː viː ˈɛ̂lskə ˈɖɛ̂tːə ˈlɑ̀nːə] (About this soundlisten); English: "Yes, we love this country") 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.[1] 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.

Ja, vi elsker
English: Yes, we love
Ja, vi elsker.svg

National anthem of  Norway
LyricsBjørnstjerne Bjørnson, c. 1859–1868
MusicRikard Nordraak, 1864
Published17 May 1864; 157 years ago (1864-05-17)
Adopted1864; 157 years ago (1864) (de facto)
11 December 2019; 21 months ago (2019-12-11) (de jure)
Preceded by"Sønner av Norge"
Audio sample
"Ja, vi elsker" (instrumental, one verse)


Until the mid-1860s, the songs "Sønner av Norge" and "Norges Skaal" were commonly regarded as the Norwegian national anthems, with "Sønner av Norge" being most recognised. "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" gradually came to be recognised as a national anthem from the mid-1860s. Until the early 20th century, however, both "Sønner av Norge" and "Ja, vi elsker" were used, with "Sønner av Norge" preferred in official situations. In 2011, the song "Mitt lille land" featured prominently in the memorial ceremonies following the 2011 Norway attacks and was described by the media as "a new national anthem".[2] On Norwegian Constitution Day in 2012, the NRK broadcast was opened with "Mitt lille land".[3]


Norway did not have an official national anthem until 11 December 2019, but over the last 200 years, a number of songs have been commonly regarded as de facto national anthems. At times, multiple songs have enjoyed this status simultaneously. "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" is now most often recognized as the anthem, but until the early 20th century, "Sønner av Norge" occupied this position.

In the early 19th century, the song "Norges Skaal" was regarded by many as a de facto national anthem. From 1820, the song "Norsk Nationalsang" (lit.'"Norwegian National Song"') became the most recognised national anthem. It came to be known as "Sønner av Norge" (originally "Sønner af Norge"), after its first stanza. "Sønner av Norge" was written by Henrik Anker Bjerregaard (1792–1842) and the melody by Christian Blom (1782–1861), after the Royal Norwegian Society for Development had announced a competition to write a national anthem for Norway in 1819. "Norsk Nationalsang" ("Sønner af Norge") was announced as the winner.[4][5][6] "Blant alle Lande" [no] (also called "Nordmandssang") by Ole Vig has also been used as a national anthem. Henrik Wergeland also wrote an anthem originally titled "Smaagutternes Nationalsang" ("The Young Boys' National Anthem") and commonly known as "Vi ere en Nation, vi med".

"Ja, vi elsker dette landet" was written by Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson and composed by Rikard Nordraak between 1859 and 1868, and gradually came to replace "Sønner av Norge" as the most recognised national anthem. Until the early 20th century, "Sønner av Norge" and "Ja, vi elsker dette landet" were used alongside each other, but "Sønner av Norge" was preferred in official settings. Since 2011, the anthem Mitt lille land by Ole Paus has also been called a "new national anthem" and notably featured in the memorial ceremonies following the 2011 Norway attacks.[7] On Norwegian Constitution Day in 2012, the NRK broadcast opened with "Mitt lille land."[8]

In addition, Norway has an unofficial royal anthem, "Kongesangen", based on "God Save the King" and written in its modern form by Gustav Jensen. The psalm "Gud signe vårt dyre fedreland", written by Elias Blix and with a melody by Christoph Ernst Friedrich Weyse, is often called Norway's "national psalm".

Lyrics and translationEdit

Bjørnson wrote in a modified version of the Danish language current in Norway at the time. Written Bokmål has since been altered in a series of orthographic reforms intended to distinguish it from Danish and bring it closer to spoken Norwegian. The text below, and commonly in use today, is identical to Bjørnson's original in using the same words, but with modernised spelling and punctuation. The most sung verses—1, 7 and 8 (which are highlighted and in bold)—have been modernised most and have several variations in existence. For example, Bjørnson originally wrote «drømme på vor jord», which some sources today write as «drømme på vår jord», while others write «drømmer på vår jord».

In each verse the last two lines are sung twice, and one or two words are repeated an extra time when the lines are sung the second time (for example "senker" in the first verse). These words are written in italics in the Norwegian lyrics below. The first verse is written down in full as an example.

Original Literal translation

Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem, —
elsker, elsker det og tenker
på vår far og mor
𝄆 og den saganatt som senker
drømmer på vår jord. 𝄇

Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth,
rugged, weathered, over the water,
with the thousands of homes, —
love, love it and think
of our father and mother
𝄆 and the saga-night that lays
dreams upon our earth. 𝄇


Dette landet Harald berget
med sin kjemperad,
dette landet Håkon verget,
medens Øyvind kvad;
Olav på det landet malet
korset med sitt blod,
fra dets høye Sverre talet
Roma midt imot.

This country Harald united
with his army of heroes,
this country Håkon protected
whilst Øyvind sung;
upon the country Olav painted
with his blood the cross,
from its heights Sverre spoke
up against Rome.


Bønder sine økser brynte
hvor en hær dro frem;
Tordenskjold langs kysten lynte,
så den lystes hjem.
Kvinner selv stod opp og strede
som de vare menn;
andre kunne bare grede,
men det kom igjen!

Farmers their axes sharpened
wherever an army advanced,
Tordenskjold along the coastline thundered
so that we could see it back home.
Even women stood up and fought
as if they were men;
others could only cry
but that soon would end!


Visstnok var vi ikke mange,
men vi strakk dog til,
da vi prøvdes noen gange,
og det stod på spill;
ti vi heller landet brente
enn det kom til fall;
husker bare hva som hendte
ned på Fredrikshald!

Sure, we were not many
but we were enough,
when we were tested sometimes,
and it was at stake;
we would rather burn our land
than to declare defeat;
just remember what happened
down at Fredrikshald!


Hårde tider har vi døyet,
ble til sist forstøtt;
men i verste nød blåøyet
frihet ble oss født.
Det gav faderkraft å bære
hungersnød og krig,
det gav døden selv sin ære —
og det gav forlik.

Hard times we have coped with,
were at last disowned;
but in the worst distress, blue-eyed
freedom was to us born.
It gave (us) father's strength to carry
famine and war,
it gave death itself its honour –
and it gave reconciliation.


Fienden sitt våpen kastet,
opp visiret fór,
vi med undren mot ham hastet,
ti han var vår bror.
Drevne frem på stand av skammen,
gikk vi søderpå;
nå står vi tre brødre sammen,
og skal sådan stå!

The enemy threw away his weapon,
up the visor went,
we, in wonder, to him hastened,
because he was our brother.
Driven forth to a stand by shame
we went to the south;
now we three brothers stand united,
and shall stand like that!


Norske mann i hus og hytte,
takk din store Gud!
Landet ville han beskytte,
skjønt det mørkt så ut.
Alt, hva fedrene har kjempet,
mødrene har grett,
har den Herre stille lempet,
vi vant vår rett.

Norwegian man in house and cabin,
thank your great God!
The country he wanted to protect,
although things looked dark.
All the fights fathers have fought,
and the mothers have wept,
the Lord has quietly eased
so we won our rights.


Ja, vi elsker dette landet,
som det stiger frem,
furet, værbitt over vannet,
med de tusen hjem.
Og som fedres kamp har hevet
det av nød til seir,
også vi, når det blir krevet,
for dets fred slår leir.

Yes, we love this country
as it rises forth,
rugged, weathered, above the sea,
with those thousand homes.
And as the fathers' struggle has raised
it from need to victory,
even we, when it is demanded,
for its peace will encamp (for defense).

Poetic translation and metric versionEdit

The three commonly used stanzas of Ja, vi elsker were translated into English long ago. The name of the translator is seldom mentioned in printed versions of the English text. It has so far not been possible to identify the translator or ascertain when it was translated. But the following versions of stanzas 1, 7, and 8 are well known and often sung by descendants of Norwegian immigrants to the United States. Its popularity and familiarity among Norwegian-Americans seems to indicate that it has been around for a long time, certainly since before the middle of the 20th century, and possibly much earlier. This translation may be regarded as the "official" version in English.




Yes, we love with fond devotion
This our land that looms
Rugged, storm-scarred o'er the ocean
With her thousand homes.
Love her, in our love recalling
Those who gave us birth.
And old tales which night, in falling,
Brings as dreams to earth.

Norseman, whatsoe'er thy station,
Thank thy God whose power
willed and wrought the land's salvation
In her darkest hour.
All our mothers sought with weeping
And our sires in fight,
God has fashioned in His keeping
Till we gained our right.

Yes, we love with fond devotion
This our land that looms
Rugged, storm-scarred o'er the ocean
With her thousand homes.
And, as warrior sires have made her
Wealth and fame increase,
At the call we too will aid her
Armed to guard her peace.

Metrical versionsEdit

Two alternative metrical versions also exist. The second follows the original closely, and was learnt by heart by a Norwegian[9] who did not know the translator's name. It was published (without the translator's name) in a collection of Sange og digte paa dansk og engelsk[10] [Songs and Poems in Danish and English]. There are two small changes in the text in this version, which is presented here. Verse 2, which is seldom sung, has been omitted, and the last two lines in each verse are repeated, in the same way as it's sung in Norwegian.




Norway, thine is our devotion,
Land of hearth and home,
Rising storm-scarr'd from the ocean,
Where the breakers foam.
Oft to thee our thoughts are wending,
Land that gave us birth,
And to saga nights still sending
Dreams upon our earth,
And to saga nights still sending
Dreams upon us on our earth

Men of Norway, be your dwelling
Cottage, house or farm,
Praise the Lord who all compelling
Sav'd our land from harm.
Not the valour of a father
On the battlefield
Nor a mother's tears, but rather
God our vict'ry sealed,
Nor a mother's tears, but rather
God for us our vict'ry sealed.

Norway, thine is our devotion,
Land of hearth and home,
Rising storm-scarr'd from the ocean,
Where the breakers foam.
As our fathers' vict'ry gave it
Peace for one and all,
We shall rally, too, to save it
When we hear the call,
We shall rally, too, to save it
When we hear, we hear the call.

Yes, we love this land arising

Stormbeat o'er the sea

With its thousand homes, enticing,

Rugged though it be.

Love it, love it, not forgetting

Those we owe our birth,

Nor that night of saga letting

Down its dreams to earth,

Nor that night of saga letting

Down its dreams, its dreams, to earth.

Norseman, where thou dwellest, render

Praise and thanks to Him,

Who has been this land's defender,

When its hopes looked dim.

Wars our fathers' aims unfolded,

Tears our mothers shed,

Roads of them for us He molded,

To our rights they led.

Roads of them for us He molded,

To our rights, our rights, they led.

Yes, we love this land arising

Stormbeat o'er the sea

With its thousand homes, enticing,

Rugged though it be.

Like our fathers who succeeded,

Warring for release,

So will we, whenever needed,

Rally for its peace.

So will we, whenever needed,

Rally for its peace, its peace.

Deleted verse a tribute to King Charles IVEdit

A verse hailing Charles IV who had succeeded his father as king of Norway in July 1859 was included in the original version of "Ja, vi elsker". But after the divisive international events of the spring of 1864, when the ideal of a unified Scandinavia was shattered, Bjørnson went from being a monarchist to republicanism, and the tribute to the reigning sovereign was stricken from the song.

The lyrics that were taken out were:

Kongen selv står stærk og åpen
som vår Grænsevagt
og hans allerbedste Våpen
er vår Broderpagt.

In English this reads:

The King himself stands strong and open
As our border guard
and his most powerful weapon
is our brethren pact.

The "brethren pact" the text refers to was a military treaty between Norway, Sweden and Denmark to come to one another's assistance should one come under military assault. This happened when German troops invaded South Jutland in February 1864. None of the alliance partners came to Denmark's rescue. This perceived treason of the "brethren pact" once and for all shattered dreams of unification of the three countries.[11]


A postcard from around the time of the 1905 Norwegian union dissolution referendum.

In 1905 the Union between Sweden and Norway was dissolved after many years of Norwegian struggle for equality between the two states, as stipulated in the 1815 Act of Union. The unilateral declaration by the Norwegian Storting of the union's dissolution 7 June provoked strong Swedish reactions, bringing the two nations to the brink of war in the autumn. In Sweden, pro-war conservatives were opposed by the Social Democrats, whose leaders Hjalmar Branting and Zeth Höglund spoke out for reconciliation and a peaceful settlement with Norway. Swedish socialists sang Ja, vi elsker dette landet to demonstrate their support for the Norwegian people’s right to secede from the union.

During World War II, the anthem was used both by the Norwegian resistance and the Nazi collaborators, the latter mainly for propaganda reasons. Eventually, the German occupiers officially forbade any use of the anthem.

In May 2006, the multicultural newspaper Utrop proposed that the national anthem be translated into Urdu, the native language of one of the most numerous group of recent immigrants to Norway.[12] The editor's idea was that people from other ethnic groups should be able to honour their adopted country with devotion, even if they were not fluent in Norwegian. This proposal was referred to by other more widely read papers, and a member of the Storting called the proposal "integration in reverse".[13] One proponent of translating the anthem received batches of hate mail calling her a traitor and threatening her with decapitation.[14]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Representantforslag om å vedta at «Ja, vi elsker dette landet» skal anerkjennes som Norges offisielle nasjonalsang". 4 June 2019.
  2. ^ Verdig tilstandsrapport fra nasjonalartistene Archived December 29, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, BT.no
  3. ^ Lindahl, Björn (2001-09-11). "Norsk festyra fick ny dimension". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  4. ^ Sangen har lysning : studentersang i Norge på 1800-tallet, Anne Jorunn Kydland, 1995, ISBN 82-560-0828-8
  5. ^ Viktige trekk fra Norges vels historie 1809-1995, Kristian Kaus, 1996, ISBN 82-7115-100-2
  6. ^ Norsk litteraturkritikks historie 1770-1940, Bind 1, Edvard Beyer og Morten Moi, 1990, ISBN 82-00-06623-1
  7. ^ Verdig tilstandsrapport fra nasjonalartistene, BT.no
  8. ^ Björn Lindahl (2001-09-11). "Norsk festyra fick ny dimension". Svenska Dagbladet (in Swedish). Retrieved 2012-05-26.
  9. ^ Torolv Hustad, born around 1930.
  10. ^ Volk, John, ed. (1903). Sange og digte paa dansk og engelsk. New York Public Library, digitized by Google: "Nordlysets" forlag. pp. 30–31.
  11. ^ Bomann-Larsen, Tor (2002). "Alt for Norge". Kongstanken. Haakon & Maud (in Norwegian). 1. Oslo, Norway: J.W. Cappelen. pp. 23–24. ISBN 82-02-19092-4.
  12. ^ Vil ha «Ja vi elsker» på urdu Archived May 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine
  13. ^ Fr.p. sier nei til "Ja vi elsker" på urdu Archived May 21, 2006, at the Wayback Machine
  14. ^ "Oslo - Aftenposten". Retrieved 2006-12-30.[dead link]

External linksEdit