National Anthems

views updated May 14 2018

National Anthems. Songs or hymns adopted by certain nations to be perf. on official occasions and to represent them at int. events, e.g. when a competitor is awarded a medal in the Olympic Games. They are the mus. equivalent of the flag. Among the best-known (with author and composer, where both are known) are: Australia (since 1974): Advance Australia Fair ( P. D. McCormick). Austria (since 1947): Land der Berge, Land am Strome ( Preradovi; mus. doubtfully attrib. Mozart); (before 1919): Gott erhalte unsern Kaiser ( Haschka; J. Haydn, 1797. In 1919 a new anthem, Deutsch-Österreich, du herrliches Land ( Renner; Kienzl, 1919) was chosen, but abandoned in 1929 when Haydn's tune was reinstated until 1947). Belgium: Après des Siècles d'esclavage, known as La Brabançonne ( Dechet, whose text was replaced 1860 by another by Rogier; F. van Campenhout, 1830). Chile: Dulce patria, recibe los votos ( Pintado, rev. 1847 by Lillo; Carnicer, 1828). China: March on, brave people of our nation (collective text; Nie Erh, 1932). Czechoslovakia: 1 (Czech): Kde domov müj? ‘Where is my home?’ (Tyl; Skroup); 2 (Slovak): Nad Tatrousa blýska ‘On Tatra mountains lightning strikes’ (Matúška; trad.). Denmark: Kong Kristian ( Ewald; ? Rogert, 1779). Finland: Oi maamme, Suomi synnyinmaa! ‘O our native land’ ( Runeberg; Pacius, 1848). France: Allons, enfants de la patrie, known as La Marseillaise ( R. de Lisle 1792, words and mus.). Germany (before 1945): Deutschland, Deutschland über Alles ( Fallersleben; J. Haydn); since 1950, Einigkeit und Recht und Freiheit (to Haydn's tune). Great Britain: God Save the King (Queen). Greece: Segnorizo apo tin Kopsi ( Solomós; Mantzaros, 1828). Ireland: Sinne Fianna Faïl at' fé gheall ag Eirinn ‘Soldiers are we whose lives are pledges to Ireland’ ( Heaney; Kearney). Israel: Kol od balevav (known as Hatikvah ( N. H. Imber, 1878; mus. trad., arr. S. Cohen). Italy: Fratelli d'Italia ( Mameli; Novaro, 1847). Netherlands: Wilhelmus von Nassouwe ( Marnix, c.1570; mus. in A. Valerius, Gedenck-Clanck, 1626). Norway: Ja, vi elsker dette landet ( Bjørnson, 1864; Nordraak). Poland: Jeszcze Polska nie zgineta ( Wybicki; trad.). Russia: Patriotic Song ( Glinka, arr. A. Petrov). USA: The Star-spangled Banner ( F. Scott Key, 1814; mus. by John Stafford Smith comp. for To Anacreon in Heaven).

National Anthem

views updated Jun 08 2018


Though a celebrated part of American culture today, "The Star Spangled Banner" has not always been America's national anthem. In fact, some people might argue that the song wasn't always American. How did Francis Scott Key's poetic tribute to the defense of Fort McHenry during the War of 1812 come to be one of the most revered and recognizable songs in America, gaining legal status as the official song of the United States?

When Key, a slaveholder, lawyer, and sometime poet, penned the "Star Spangled Banner," he wanted to give words to his emotions after witnessing the 1814 defense of Baltimore from British invasion. Just after dawn, Key looked to see whether the British or the Americans had taken the day. What he saw stirred him—a huge American flag, the "star-spangled banner," still flying at the fort. On the back of a letter Key immediately began composing his lyrics to the tune of an old English drinking song. Within days, the song became a handbill. Then, a Baltimore newspaper printed it, followed by newspapers around the country. By the 1890s, the Army and Navy had adopted the "Star Spangled Banner" as their official song, and in the midst of World War I President Woodrow Wilson ordered it played on all official occasions.

By the end of World War I, the Veterans of Foreign Wars and other patriotic and civic groups began lobbying Congress to make "The Star Spangled Banner" America's official song, but some Americans opposed it because the music was English in origin and the range of notes made it difficult to sing. Prohibitionists pointed out that the song was based on a drinking song, which they felt was inappropriate for a dry country's anthem. Still others rejected its archaic wording, and Peace Movement activists deplored the song's martial spirit. Teachers complained that it did not do enough to teach young Americans how to be good citizens in peacetime as well as in war. Several groups suggested Katharine Lee Bates's "America the Beautiful" as an alternative. But, on March 3, 1931, after twenty years of wrangling and the introduction of some forty bills and joint resolutions in Congress, President Herbert Hoover signed the bill making "The Star Spangled Banner" the official anthem of the United States.

When it was written, "The Star Spangled Banner" reflected the patriotic mood of the new republic and helped make the flag a venerated symbol of America. Today, it still holds special meaning for Americans. Its familiar choruses inspire American pride and optimism. Some opposition to the anthem still exists among those who favor other songs, but the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon on September 11, 2001, rekindled the anthem's popularity.


Kroll, Steven. The Story of the Star Spangled Banner: By Dawn's Early Light. New York: Scholastic, 1994.

Lord, Walter. The Dawn's Early Light. New York: Norton, 1972.

Molotsky, Irvin. The Flag, the Poet, and the Song: The Story of the Star Spangled Banner. New York: Plume, 2001.

Melinda L. Pash

See also:Patriotism; Peace Movements.

national anthem

views updated May 11 2018

national anthem. First published in recognizable form in 1744 (ambiguously as ‘God save our Lord the King’) but performed at Drury Lane, September 1745, specifically naming King George in response to the Jacobite threat, it was essentially a compilation of loyal phrases set to a recast Tudor galliard, and merely a patriotic song. Rapidly gaining widespread popularity, it was known as the national anthem by 1819 despite its anti-Scots references (still balefully resented by some north of the border). Subsequent political parodies, ‘improvements’, church use, translations, and overseas adoptions have made it one of the world's best-known tunes.

A. S. Hargreaves

national anthem

views updated May 18 2018

na·tion·al an·them • n. see anthem (sense 1).

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national anthem