A national anthem (also state anthem, national hymn, national song, etc.) is generally a 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 marches or hymns in style. The countries of Latin America, Central Asia and Europe tend towards more operatic pieces, while those in the Middle East, Oceania, Africa and the Caribbean use a simple fanfare.
A national anthem is usually 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:
- The Swiss Psalm, the national anthem of Switzerland, has different lyrics for each of the country's four official languages (French, German, Italian and Romansh).
- The national anthem of Canada, O Canada, has official lyrics in both English and French which are not translations of each other, and is frequently sung with a mixture of stanzas, representing the country's bilingual nature.
- Amhrán na bhFiann, the anthem of the Republic of Ireland, was written in English, but an Irish translation, although never formally adopted, is now almost always sung.
- The current national anthem of South Africa 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).
- One of the two official national anthems of New Zealand, God Defend New Zealand, is commonly now 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. Although official, the Fijian version is rarely sung, and it is usually the English version that is performed at international sporting events.
- Although Singapore has four official languages, with English being the lingua franca, the national anthem, Majulah Singapura is in Malay and by law can only be sung with its original Malay lyrics, despite the fact that Malay is a minority language in Singapore.
- Pakistan's national anthem Qaumi Taranah is in Persian language which was the cultural and the official language of the Mughal Empire. Pakistanis can understand the anthem as it is considered to be in Persianized Urdu. There is only one word "Ka" which is exclusively from the Urdu language.
- There are several countries that do not have official lyrics to their anthems. One of these is the Marcha Real, the anthem of Spain. In 2007 a national competition to write words was held, but no lyrics were chosen. Other anthems with no words include Inno Nazionale della Repubblica, the anthem of San Marino, and that of Kosovo, entitled Europe.
- The national anthem of India, "Jana Gana Mana", has lyrics in the Bengali language, despite the fact that India has 22 official languages, with Hindi being the first official language and the most widely spoken of them.
- Despite the most common language in Wales being English, the anthem "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" is sung in the native language of Wales In which is the Welsh Language
National anthems rose to prominence in Europe during the 19th century, but some originated much earlier. The presumed oldest national anthem belongs to the Netherlands and is called the Wilhelmus. It was written between 1568 and 1572 during the Dutch Revolt and its current melody variant was composed shortly before 1626. It was a popular orangist march during the 17th century but it did not become the official anthem until 1932.
The Philippine anthem Lupang Hinirang was composed in 1898 as wordless incidental music for the ceremony declaring independence from the Spanish Empire. The Spanish poem Filipinas was written the following year to serve as the anthem's lyrics; the current Tagalog version dates to 1962.
God Save the Queen, the national anthem of the United Kingdom and the royal anthem reserved for use in the presence of the Monarch in some Commonwealth Realms, was first performed in 1619 under the title God Save the King.
Spain's national anthem, the Marcha Real (The Royal March), written in 1761, was among the first to be adopted as such, in 1770. Denmark adopted the older of its two national anthems, Kong Christian stod ved højen mast, in 1780; and La Marseillaise, the French anthem, was written in 1792 and adopted in 1795. Serbia became the first Eastern European nation to have a national anthem – Rise up, Serbia! – in 1804.
Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu, the 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.
The Welsh Anthem "Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau" was the first anthem to be sung at an international sporting event. The anthem was sung in a Rugby game against New Zealand in Llanelli. This was done to counter the famous New Zealand haka.
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 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 national 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 Jade and ATV Home. 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 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, 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. 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.
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 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 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 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 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.
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- "Qaumi Tarana" (Pakistan)
- "İstiklâl Marşı" (Turkey)
- "Jana Gana Mana" (India)
- "Mila Rodino" (Bulgaria)
- "Nad Tatrou sa blýska"' (Slovakia)
- "Hatikvah" (Israel)
- "Surudi Milli" (Tajikistan)
- "Azərbaycan marşı" (Azerbaijan)
- "Mawtini" (Iraq)
- "Deșteaptă-te, române!" (Romania)
- "Meniñ Qazaqstanım" (Kazakhstan)
- "Shche ne vmerla Ukraina" (Ukraine)
- "Sayaun Thunga Phool Ka" (Nepal)
- "Afghan National Anthem" (Afghanistan)
These anthems use pentatonic scales:
- "Kimigayo" (Japan)
- "Wodefit Gesgeshi, Widd Innat Ityopp'ya" (Ethiopia)
- "Ertra, Ertra, Ertra" (Eritrea)
- "Qolobaa Calankeed" (Somalia)
- "Ee Mungu Nguvu Yetu" (Kenya)
- "Druk tsendhen" (Bhutan)
- "Nokor Reach" (Cambodia)
And these anthems have unique modes/modulations:
- "Garaşsyz, Bitarap Türkmenistanyň Döwlet Gimni" (Turkmenistan) uses the Mixolydian mode
- The "Afghan National Anthem" uses parallel key modulation[original research?]
- "Forged from the Love of Liberty" (Trinidad and Tobago) starts in the minor key and then modulates to major key
- "Humat ad-Diyar" (Syria) (Modulates repeatedly between major and minor)
- "National Anthem of Mauritania" (Mauritania)
- Joaquim Rabaseda Els himnes nacionals. Published February 2012.
- "Spain: Lost for words - The Economist". The Economist. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- M. de Bruin, "Het Wilhelmus tijdens de Republiek", in: L.P. Grijp (ed.), Nationale hymnen. Het Wilhelmus en zijn buren. Volkskundig bulletin 24 (1998), p. 16-42, 199–200; esp. p. 28 n. 65.
- Japan Policy Research Institute JPRI Working Paper No. 79. The Indian National anthem Jana Gana Mana was transcribed from a poem by Rabindranath Tagore. Published July 2001. Retrieved 7 July 2007
- "Pakistan". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Nadeem F. Paracha. "Saghar Siddiqui: A man, his demons and his dog". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- "Kenya". Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- "Musical traditions in sports". CNN.
- "Identity: Nationalism confronts a desire to be different". Financial Times. Retrieved 20 March 2015.
- Yomiuri Shimbun Foul cried over Taiwan anthem at hoop tourney. Published 6 August 2007
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- NationalAnthems.me, national anthems of every country in the world (and historical national anthems) with streaming audio, lyrics, information and links
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