Sunday, 26 June 2011

The World's Greatest National Anthems...

Music has always had a powerful effect on me. As a fan of classical music, I often find myself listening to the National Anthems of different countries. Without a doubt, when I hear the English national anthem resonating through Twickenham Stadium, I feel a shiver run up my spine.
I judge an Anthem not only on its musical composition, but it's power to move and inspire people.

Còig - Alba
Scotland, like Northern Ireland, is one of the four Home Nations I have never visited. In my mind I picture it as a land of green flowing hills, caked in thistles on the site of glorious battle fields. In reality, I think this is a somewhat misguided perception of the U.K's most northern nation.
Strangely enough, Scotland has no official National Anthem. At Murrayfield, the Scots often sing 'Flower of Scotland'. Yet on other occasions 'Scotland the Brave' is played.
However, I have chosen what I believe to be the most inspiring and jolly Anthem to represent Scots culture.


Paul Robeson's rendition of 'Loch Lomond' has featured in my blog before. It was also one of my Desert Island Discs. I find it a very romantic and compassionate tune. Its also a great song to sing at sporting events.
Although 'Loch Lomond' is beautifully catchy tune, it's not necessarily an inspirational anthem. Which brings me on to number four.

Nummer Vier - Deutschland
My next choice is rather controversial. In fact, this anthem was actually banned for a certain period following the Second World War. Although the German National Anthem has created deep historical and social divisions, it is nonetheless a fantastic Anthem. 'Das Lied der Deutschen' (The Song of the Germans), commonly knows as 'Deutschland Über Alles' as sung by a German male voice choir has a very powerful melody and very inspirational lyrics.

'Das Lied der Deutschen' is without a doubt a very powerful anthem. However, in the past it has divided many people. Ultimately, the historical connotations of this anthem has not served to unite the German people in recent years.
One might ask how music can unite people, Number Three is perhaps the greatest example of this.

Nommer Drie - Suid-Afrika
South Africa
'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica' emerged from a very turbulent time in South African society. The end of Apartheid bought about a more liberal and tolerant South Africa.This anthem represents greater appreciation of diversity by using five of South Africa's many languages in the lyrics. Not only is 'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica' the National Anthem of South Africa, but it has been adopted by Zambia, Tanzania, Namibia and Zimbabwe. See Below for a remarkable fact about the South African National Anthem I only discovered whilst researching for this blog post.

Here it is sung by Francois Pienaar's winning World Cup Squad in 1995...

I was amazed to find that the South African anthem is based on the tune of Parry's Gothic composition 'Aberystwyth', my new found home. This left me rather flabbergasted, yet mostly, impressed.

'Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica' represents hope. The powerful melody brings to attention the dreams and aspirations of the South African people in founding a more peaceful and tolerant nation. The diverse ethnicity of the Springbok's squad in recent years represents this progression of more liberal values.

Number Two - Australia
I am going to be slightly cheeky now. However, an unofficial National Anthem has made the second place on my list. I could not dismiss this great patriotic song. It not only provides a beautiful image of Australian culture and heritage, it's an amusing and beautiful Aussie tune.
To be perfectly honest, I could not choose a greater Australian to sing it than the fantastic lady below...

'Waltzing Matilda' is such a jolly tune. It tells the tale of a lone Swag-man (a hobo/traveller) on an exciting adventure thorough the Australian Outback. For me, it provides a beautiful image of the land of OZ, a nation which I one day hope to visit.

Personally, there is one National Anthem for me that is completely flawless. The power of this anthem's language and melody inspires the greatest sense of pride and aspiration. Unfortunately, it is not the English National Anthem. In fact 'God Save the Queen' never made it on to my list. Yet, this Home-Nation's Anthem did...

Rhif Un - Cymru
'Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau' or 'Land of My Fathers' is arguably one of the greatest National Anthems in the world. It has the power to inspire whether it's in a simple music hall, or in the grandiose setting of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff. It is truly a great anthem (unless sung by John Redwood). It is the only anthem (not in English) that i know fluently (with the help of Hannah Thompson and Mark Cole). Observe the passion that goes in to the words 'Gwlad, Gwald' (Nation, Nation) and you will begin to understand why it is such a marvelous National Anthem.

                    Thank you for reading
Thanks to Joshua McClean for assisting in German translation

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