National anthem

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A national anthem (in Switzerland as a national anthem called) is usually the anthem of a country , in states known as national anthem. It is the solemn hymn of praise, the song or piece of music (hymn) with which a state presents itself on special occasions. This national anthem is played or sung, for example, at state receptions, international sporting events or at special state events. In the monarchies of Great Britain and Spain , the national anthem is the royal anthem .


Which national anthem is the oldest in the world depends on the definition. The Japanese national anthem Kimi Ga Yo has a text of 905 at the latest; however, their melody was not written until the end of the 19th century. If a national anthem is defined as a unity of text and melody, then the Dutch hymn Het Wilhelmus, sung since the 16th century, is probably the oldest of today's national anthems.

Publication of the Dutch hymn from 1626

A national anthem usually consists of a melody and text. The melody of the British national anthem God Save the King / Queen was adopted by some other countries, such as Prussia ( Heil dir im Siegerkranz - German imperial anthem from 1871), Switzerland ( Calling my fatherland - no longer the national anthem today) or Liechtenstein ( Up on the young Rhine ). Similarly, the melody of the Austrian imperial anthem for the Deutschlandlied ( German national anthem from 1922 ) was adopted. The national anthems without text include Marcha Real (Spain), Inno Nazionale della Repubblica (San Marino) and Historically Risen from the Ruins (GDR - the text has not been sung since the early 1970s). A text has already been selected for the hymn Intermeco from Bosnia and Herzegovina after a text competition, but confirmation by the responsible ministry and parliament is still pending.

When the form of government changes , the national anthem is often changed or supplemented by a party anthem.

Many national anthems have a military origin, for example the American Star-Spangled Banner , the Irish Soldier's Song or the French war song La Marseillaise . Another group are hymns to a monarch, such as the British God Save the Queen . Denmark , Sweden and Norway have both a king and a national anthem. Other national anthems have a distinctly sacred, chorale-like character, such as the Swiss psalm , the Icelandic hymn Lofsöngur or Het Wilhelmus (Netherlands), which are also printed in church hymn books.

Reception with military honors in 2005: the Brazilian President Lula walks the front of an honorary formation of the French Garde républicaine .

Use of the national anthem

Since the beginning of the 19th century, states have been represented on state visits by their representatives and similar diplomatic events by playing so-called national anthems. This is often associated with military ceremonies as well.

At international sporting events, the national anthem of the respective home country is played at the award ceremony. It is also common for international football matches to play the national anthems of both teams right before kick-off.

Conduct when playing a national anthem

When playing a national anthem in public, it is common practice to stand up and stand in an upright position until the music has faded away. Men may take off their headgear, women are free to do so. For soldiers in uniform different rules apply when the military greeting is to prove. These expressions of respect have to be shown for every national anthem, regardless of whether it is the anthem of one's own country or another; Exceptions are music events at which national anthems are played as part of a concert, such as the music show of the nations .

In addition, there are country-specific features when playing a national anthem. So z. B. in the United States and in many Central and South American countries put the right hand on the heart. The national anthem is sung along on suitable occasions (especially at sporting events or public celebrations).

Unofficial national anthems

Some states also have several national anthems, of which only one is officially a national anthem, but the others have the same strong symbolic power in public and are sometimes also played on official occasions.


Supplement with party anthems

In the right-wing dictatorships of the 20th century in particular, it was common for the national anthem to be immediately followed by the respective party anthem, which thus claimed a status similar to the national anthem itself. So followed, for example

In many communist countries it was or is customary to play Die Internationale after the corresponding official national anthem ; In the Soviet Union , The International also served as the national anthem from 1917 to 1944.

In the People's Republic of China at the time of the Cultural Revolution, the song The East is Red , a hymn to the person of Mao Zedong (but also to the party), took a dominant position and almost overshadowed the national anthem March of the Volunteers .

In the Republic of China (Taiwan) the national anthem San Min Chu-i is also the party anthem of the Kuomintang , which is why the national flag song is also used as an unofficial anthem.


Various works of contemporary music are dedicated to the topic of "national anthems", for example

  • Karlheinz Stockhausen : Hymns
  • The solo piano composition Hämmerklavier XIX: Hymns of the World (Afghanistan to Zimbabwe) by Moritz Eggert (2006) quotes almost all the then current national anthems of the world in alphabetical order in eleven minutes.

See also


  • National anthems. Texts and melodies. 11th edition. Reclam, Stuttgart 2006, ISBN 3-15-010595-1 (with notes).
  • Harry D. Schurdel: National Anthem of the World. Origin and salary. Atlantis, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-254-08221-4 .
  • Jakob Seibert (Ed.): National anthems. Songbook. Schott, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-7957-5773-8 (sheet music and texts of 50 hymns).
  • Jakob Seibert (Ed.): National anthems. 50 hymns for piano and voice. Schott, Mainz 2006, ISBN 3-7957-5772-X (piano arrangements for playing and singing along).
  • Peter Häberle : National anthems as cultural identity elements of the constitutional state. 2nd Edition. Duncker & Humblot, Berlin 2013, ISBN 978-3-428-14224-8 .
  • WL Reed, MJ Bristow: National Anthems of the World . 10th edition. 2002, ISBN 0-304-36382-0 .

Web links

Commons : National Anthem  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: National anthem  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. "The melody was based on the Prussian hymn originally titled 'Heil Dir Im Siegerkranz'." Hawaiʻi ponoʻī . Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved June 2, 2018.
  2. Information about the Greek national anthem: Εθνικός Ύμνος ( Memento of the original from February 25, 2012 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was automatically inserted and not yet checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Greek President website (Greek) @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  3. In the version of Triple Himno , the Carlist and Falangist anthems of the Marcha Real even preceded them.
  4. ; accessed on August 8, 2019.