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Best and worst national anthems

Recently I had the pleasure of watching a Zulu choir perform the South African national anthem. Even though mostly incomprehensible to me, it was incredibly moving – perfectly combining the men’s deep basses and baritones with the higher ranges of the female vocalists. The South Africans are lucky to have such an inspiring anthem, although the version linked here is not the best rendition around.

The Russian anthem is also particularly stirring, if you can overlook the Soviet connection regarding the tune. I didn’t much care for the Chinese national song the first time I heard it, but it grew on me. The lyrics of the Star Spangled Banner are poetically pleasing, if a little thematically blood spattered in the lesser known verses.

As for the not-so-good anthems, I think Australia’s is down there. Tedious lyrics, boring tune. Britain’s is somewhat lacking, too; as a symbol of the nation, an anthem should do more than just beseech God to look out for the monarch. Granted, the monarch is a symbol of the nation too, but it is arguably an outdated, practically irrelevant symbol. I am sure there are far more miserable anthems than those two – give us your worst!

UPDATE: I do not mean to gloat, but oh dear.

156 comments to Best and worst national anthems

  • Verity

    For jaw crunching boredom, Oh Canada! (First line, sung to a dirge: Oh, Canada! Our home and native land. True patriot love, at all our sons’ command.) It went downhill from there. Although I believe even the Canadians who could stay awake were defeated by it and they’ve got themselves a new one now.

    For sheer spirit and inspiration, La Marseillaise. IMHO. I’ve never heard the S African national anthem.

  • Matt O'Halloran

    What’s the Libertarian anthem? ‘Money’ by Bradford and Gordy? Abba’s ‘Gimme Gimme Gimme’? ‘My Ayn Folk’ (trad. Scottish, adapted)?

  • The Last Toryboy

    Seems to me totalitarian states have all the best anthems. Understandable I guess, given how they have to make the State look as good as possible which pageantry.

    The Soviet Union national anthem is certainly the “best” I think (so good that after trying to ditch it they brought it back again…), but the old anthem of East Germany I think is pretty stirring as well.


    Hardly any surprise then that in Ode to Joy the EU chose a pretty good anthem too, and so follows the totalitarian tradition. 😉

  • Nick M

    “Oh Canada!” truly is an appalling dirge.

    I’ve been looking on:

    href = “http://www.national-anthems.net”>Link

    to try and find some real stinkers.

  • The Last Toryboy

    And while on the subject does anybody else find it vaguely ironic that Ode to Joy is the Clockwork Orange music?

  • Nick M

    I think LastToryBoy hits it on the head. I thought the Khazak national anthemn would be a shocker, but it’s pretty good. The Devil certainly seems to have the best tunes.

  • For sucking up to another country beyond the call of duty, may I suggest the fourth verse of the Australian anthem

    When gallant Cook from Albion sail’d,
    To trace wide oceans o’er,
    True British courage bore him on,
    Till he landed on our shore.
    Then here he raised Old England’s flag,
    The standard of the brave;
    With all her faults we love her still,
    “Britannia rules the waves!”
    In joyful strains then let us sing
    “Advance Australia fair!”

  • The Last Toryboy

    Just as a test I listened to the anthem of the ultimate totalitarian state, North Korea, as a real litmus test experiment.

    Sure enough, its a good one, with the usual sweeping orchestral stuff dictators seem to love…


  • Nick M

    Goddamn it Last Tory Boy. I’m there! I’m in the mood for crushing the lick-spittle capitalist running-dogs in Seoul.
    Long Live the Dear Leader!

  • Ian

    I think the Canadian Anthem is quite possibly the most boring ever. Here is the official story of just how boring our national anthem is!

    There is an alternative but the lyrics have been watered down over time unfortunately. Somehow I don’t think

    In Days of yore,
    From Britain’s shore
    Wolfe the dauntless hero came
    And planted firm Britannia’s flag
    On Canada’s fair domain.
    Here may it wave,
    Our boast, our pride
    And joined in love together,
    The thistle, shamrock, rose entwined,
    The Maple Leaf Forever.

    would fly in Quebec these days…

  • michael farris

    A really puzzling case to me is Italy, home to some of the most stirring music on the planet and one of the lamest national anthems going, it sounds like a cross between John Phillip Sousa on anti-depressants and an early attempt at atonal music, a real mess.

    I think Va Pensiero (in a slightly uptempo version) would be great as a national anthem though.

  • Verity, you can’t beat the Marseillaise for bloody lyrics. “Qu’un sang impur abreuve nos sillons!” It puts our “their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution” in the shade. And we’re not angry any more, so we almost always leave out that verse. It’s a little embarrassing, frankly, but I’m sure you can understand our feelings at the time. It was composed around the time a British raiding party burned our capitol city.

    Maybe we could stage another unsuccessful invasion of Canada. That might provide some material for a more inspiring anthem.

  • Verity

    ‘The Eyes of Texas’ is quite bouncy. (And Texas has twice been a country, so no sneering.)

  • Mitch – pardon my ignorance of the French tongue, but what does that mean?

  • mbe

    Undoubtedly, GSTQ is a bit naff but it’s better than the quite horrible ‘Flower of Scotland’ dirge.

    IMHO, I think the two unofficial English national anthems differ greatly: Land of Hope and Glory is bland but I still hold Jerusalem with particluar affection.

  • RAB

    An anthem has to do certain things.
    It has to combine National pride with the expression of that emotion.
    It has to make you swell and swoon, bring tears to your eyes and a lump in your throat.
    We are hearing a lot of crap anthems at the moment, it being Commonwealth games time. Most sound like they were written by a committee of the ruling parties wifes, rather than musicians.
    Yes, the Italian one is very bad for such a musical people.
    My favorites are The Welsh (Gee no fooling RAB!) the French, The German and the Russian, they do the business. After that we are basically in musical Legoland.
    The South African one is magnificent. The only people I know who can do 4 part harmony at the drop of a hat, except us Welsh.
    God save the Queen on the other hand, is absolutely dire. Dull and plodding. We should use Land of Hope & Glory or Rule Brittannia.
    Billy Connolly, back when he was funny, had a great skit on changing it to the theme from the Archers so all our immigrants could learn it on the bus in from the airport and feel at home, or at least included.
    And the unofficial Scottish one is a bloody folk tune fer chrisakes!
    Oh and yes

  • I can’t be the only non-Greek to find the Greek national anthem Hymn to Freedom (written in 1823 for the revolution against the Ottoman Caliphate) particularly stirring.

    In Rudyard Kipling’s English translation:

    We knew thee of old,
    Oh, divinely restored,
    By the lights of thine eyes,
    And the light of thy Sword.

    From the graves of our slain,
    Shall thy valour prevail,
    As we greet thee again,
    Hail, Liberty! Hail!

  • Brendan Halfweeg

    The only defence for the Advance Australia Fair is that it isn’t God Save The Queen or Waltzing Matilda.

    Countries on the winning side of history don’t have to inspire through song and symbolism, their strengths are self-evident.

  • Nathan

    Damn, RAB, you beat me to the Connolly punch. I loved the old “let’s change the British national anthem to the theme from the Archers” bit.

    La la La la La la la, La la La la La La,
    La la La la La la la, La lalalalala

    (Rum te tiddle tum)

  • Nathan

    oh, and the emerging nation’s anthems:

    “We come from Jablovia, and we don’t give a shit,
    We’ve got a national debt of fifteen squillion pounds, and we don’t give a monkey’s”

  • Canada’s old anthem, The Maple Leaf Forever, was quite the ode to multiculturalism:

    In days of yore, from Britain’s shore,
    Wolfe, the dauntless hero came,
    And planted firm Britannia’s flag,
    On Canada’s fair domain.
    Here may it wave, our boast, our pride,
    And joined in love together,
    The thistle, shamrock, rose entwined,
    The Maple Leaf forever!

  • Snorre

    I usually don’t mind our national anthem, as long as I don’t have to sing it. 😉

    Sounds like this.

  • The South African national anthem is “Nkosi Sikele i’Afrika” and is pretty good; I remember that we used to sing it to close every protest meeting on campus during the apartheid years. It certainly beats the apartheid anthem hands down.

    Although it doesn’t beseech God to bless any monarch, it does invite Him to bless Africa: that’s the literal meaning of the title.

  • Snide

    What’s the Libertarian anthem?

    ‘Mind your own business’ by Hank Williams of course, you idiot!

  • I guess I’m the only one who likes the Canadian anthem. Then again, my liking didn’t fully kick in until I heard the Geddy Lee/Alex Lifeson version on the South Park movie soundtrack.

  • Robert Schwartz

    The US National Anthem may be poetic, but the tune is unsingable, covering an octave and a half. For most folks, it is impossible, but even well trained voices can have a real struggle to find a key that does not cause them blow a gasket.

  • I’ve always found it amusing that the main theme of the US’s national anthem is the author questioning whether the country has the ability to last through the night.

  • David Crawford


    Listen to the North Korean national anthem and then listen to South Korea’s. Those two anthems show just how different those two countries are. (Of course, don’t dare say that to the mush-heads currently living in South Korea. They’re convinced it’s only the barbed wire and the Americans that are preventing the bliss on earth that a re-united Korea would bring.)

    (South Korean National Anthem)

  • John R

    What’s the Libertarian anthem?

    My suggestion would be “Ain’t nobody’s business if I do”, sung by Billie Holliday (amongst others).

    Our “unofficial” anthems (“I still call Australia home” and/or “I am Australian”) are so much finer than that dirge “Advance Australia Fair”.

  • James of England

    Last Toryboy, you seem to suggest that the shared Clockwork Orange/ EU enthusiasm for Ode to Joy is coincidence. Since it seems likely that many of those who chose it for the Counsil of Europe in January 1972 were very aware of the use of the film (released to the public in December 1971), this seems a little generous.

  • The Last Toryboy

    David Crawford – I agree. What more can be said?

    all the communist anthems sound very similar to me, a huge orchestra in an echoing room, all very grand.

  • Young Fogey

    The Canadian anthem was originally a pro-federation song in Quebec, and originally written in French. It shows – the French words are fairly nifty, the English ones truly dire.

    Great anthems – France and South Africa, as mentioned, by a long way. Slovenia has a great tune and pleasantly non-bloodthirsty lyrics (all very Slovenian). Japan’s is nicely inculturated and nicely to the point. Russia’s is cool. Slovakia deserves an honourable mention too.

    Oh, and I’m not normally that pro-American, but the Star Spangled Banner is so rousing that even decades of third-rate renditions at baseball matches hasn’t ruined it.

    Strange anthems – Bhutan’s for a lesson in profound cultural difference. I wouldn’t call Turkmenistan’s bad, exactly, but it sounds like a second rate jazz improvisation. Latin America has some which make Italy’s look tame – some are a full opera in their own right. Uruguay’s is by far the most egregious.

    Worst anthems – Britain’s is an awful dirge, Australia’s vomit inducingly anodyne, Holland’s is a dirge with really awful words (and wins the sucking up to two traditional enemies at once category), Belgium’s is profoundly at variance with reality and not exactly a great tune. Spain’s has no words. Must make it difficult to sing.

  • RobtE

    I’ve always found it amusing that the main theme of the US’s national anthem is the author questioning whether the country has the ability to last through the night.

    Close, but not quite. It’s a morning-after question whether the fort held through the night. As in, “Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light what so proudly we hailed by the twilight’s last gleaming.”

  • Verity

    Young Fogey – I didn’t know Spain’s national anthem had no words! How hysterical. Maybe you’re supposed to hum along.

  • Neil

    We’re in the middle of the Commonwealth Games here in Australia and Channel 9 have decreed that we aren’t allowed to hear any anthems except the Australian one. I hit the mute button.

    The best? I’m not Welsh, but the most stirring has to be Land Of My Fathers as sung at a packed Millennium Stadium before an England game…

  • Brian

    I think you guys are crazy not to like the Italians’. Atonal?!?!?!? What the…? Check out Verdi’s arrangement of it in Hymn To The Nations if you don’t like the linked recording.

    The Star Spangled Banner is a fineone, second only to France. But I kinda wish we Americans had chosen Columbia The Gem Of The Ocean, a rousing epic about making tyrants tremble. Unfortunately the title would confuse the lesser intellects, and we must be accessible, musn’t we.

    Battle Cry Of Freedom would have been another good one.

  • RAB

    Amen Niel!
    It carrys all the way to the hills of Cefn on and Caerphilly, let alone downtown Cardiff.
    Usually worth 7 points before a ball has been kicked!
    Um… But not lately!

  • A saffer

    The South African anthem consosts of four verses: The first one is in Xhosa, the second one in Zulu, the third one in Afrikaans and the last one in English. Usually the whites would mumble through the first two verses (on purpose – even if they know the words) and the blacks would only sing the first two verses.
    As an anthem it’s alright, but I can’t see why you foreigners like it. I much prefer God save the Queen. Perhaps its justs natural that everyone hates their own anthem and like another one

  • RLN

    The Romanian anthem is short but quite rivoting…should check it out…also, as much as it pains me to say this…Canada’s anthem is much better than America’s

  • So, not Deutschland, Deutschland über alles then?

  • RAB

    Well just to give this thread the kiss of death,
    as I have many others.
    Do you all want to know why anthems are played before international sporting events?
    Tough! I’m gonna tell you anyway.
    Seems that the first time New Zealand played Wales at rugby, they came on and did the Hakka.
    The Arms Park crowd thought (rightly) that they were taking the piss and responded with Land of My Fathers, the Welsh National anthem and blew the kiwis away. So ever since….

  • Verity

    Oh, RAB, some of us adore you!
    Long may you continue to give the kiss of death to vapid threads.
    And have your Welsh jokes that T Blair wouldn’t understand. Although Prince Charles probably would.
    And there may be something decent on the telly tonight, although I wouldn’t count on it, boyo!

  • J.M. Heinrichs

    Interesting comments.
    I suggest that if you cannot arrange the music for soldiers to march to, then the anthem is lacking. Having marched to the music of both “O Canada” and “God Save the Queen”, both fit the bill. As does “Deutschland uber Alles”, a fine Lutheran fighting hymn. Neither the Russian anthem nor the “Star Spangled Banner” (amongst others) meet the requirement.

    Of possible interest, the Swiss anthem “Rufst du Mein Fatherland” uses the melody of “God Save the Queen”.

    And of historical note, the use of words in the Russian anthem can be dated to the Canada-Russia hockey series of 1972.


  • Allons, enfants de la patrie!
    La jour de boire est arrivé!

    In fact I’m hoisting a Carlsberg right now, in solidarity with the Danes.

    Uh, what’s the Danish national anthem?

  • SKPeterson

    JMH – “A Mighty Fortress is Our God” is the Lutheran fight song. I believe that the theme for Deutschland Uber Alles was actuallly lifted from the Harvard University fight sond. So, its really sort of a Congregationalist/Puritan fight song.

    Nominee for the most annoying anthem: “Eyes of Texas”. Gig’Em!

  • Michael Taylor

    1. The Deutschland Uber Alles theme was from a (magnificent) Haydn quartet. It’s the theme from a theme and variations movement. Given the way it was subverted to help along the collapse of civilisation and the rise of rampant barbarism, it now reminds me of Victor Klemperer’s anguished 1930s comment about “where have all the Germans gone?”. Very moving to listen to, now.

    2. But let’s face it, the French have the best anthem. Pains me to say it, but I don’t see any competition out there. Musically, it’s its own little symphony, complete with transposed four-bar development section in a minor key, launching you into the final, triumphant recapitulation. Who can beat the French rugby team roused by such a send-off? (Answer, as always, only the French themselves).

  • Pete

    “Qu’un sang impure abreuve nos sillons” means “Let impure blood water our furrows”, to answer the question above. The Marseillaise – world champion of national anthems.

    Brazil’s always makes me laugh at the world cup – a shambolic upbeat ditty that you might expect as the theme tune to a Nickelodeon programme, and a welcome antidote to the Wagnerian pomposity of most – it strikes you as a country which feels no real need for an anthem.

    I like the South Park version of Oh Canada! And while it may be a poor one, it’s still better than God Save The Queen.

  • How on earth is it possible to march to God Save The Queen?

  • Ed Snack

    I suggest avoiding the New Zealand anthem, God Defend New Zealand. It is utterly dirge like, meaningless words, and easily worse than Advance Australia Fair.

  • Ah, gotta be the Welsh anthem. We outsing the English every year, even if we get subsequently hammered on the pitch.

  • Adrian

    I recall an interview with Alan Jones (Australian F1 champ, 1980 I think).

    As he kept winning in that fateful year, the various organizers had to whip out the Oz anthem. Some got it right (the turgid Advance Australia Fair), some did Waltzing Matilda (a stirring tune, lyrics not typical for an anthem but which somehow capture elements of the anti-authoritarian national character).

    But at one track, all they had for Alan was….Happy Birthday.

  • Young Fogey

    Brazil’s is but a tame example of the horror/camp joy of Latin American anthems. Mexico is another one to try after Uruguay.

    If Northern Ireland were a country and could agree on these sort of things, Danny Boy would be high up this list – having a love song as a National Anthem is intrinsically cool, although like the Star Spangled Banner it can be a strain on the vocally challenged.

    PS – being an Irishman, I’m not all that used to being beaten by the English rugby team these days. (big grin)

  • Caz

    Ah James, as always refreshing, educational & thoughtful; how I miss your blog.


  • Henning

    To Rick Gaber.

    Danish national anthem.

    Der er et yndig land = There is a lovely land.

    There is a lovely land
    with spreading, shady beeches
    Near Baltic’s salty strand
    Its hills and valleys gently fall,
    its ancient name is Denmark,
    And it is Freya’s hall

    There in the ancient days
    the armoured Vikings rested
    Between their bloody frays
    Then they went forth the foe to face,
    now found in stone-set barrows,
    Their final resting place

    This land is still as fair,
    the sea is blue around it,
    And peace is cherished there
    Strong men and noble women still
    uphold their country’s honour
    With faithfulness and skill

    The lyrics were written in 1819.

  • David B. Wildgoose

    Strictly, “Britain” doesn’t really have a National Anthem anymore because “God Save the Queen” is the Commonwealth anthem.

    Scotland, Wales and Ireland each have their own. We English have “Jerusalem” which is magnificent, and which is probably why the authorities try and deny it us.

  • Julian Taylor

    Well, since nobody here is even prepared to mention it I will. For sheer Last Night of The Proms exhuberance Land of Hope and Glory and Rule Britannia still beat just about every other anthem hands down, while we now seem to retain Jerusalem as our ‘reserve’ national anthem. The only other national anthems I have ever even considered come close to those are Hymn of the Russian Federation (as its now known), maybe the Star Spangled Banner and possibly Men of Harlech although I never felt that Land of My Fathers does the Welsh any justice.

    Strangely, God Save The Queen has never been officially adopted as our national anthem. It’s certainly one of the world’s worst anthems to my ears, despite also being the oldest, most popular and most often copied one, and also suffers from the fact that nobody seems to know how many verses it’s supposed to actually have. Opinion appears to draw the line at 7 verses (one being about crushing rebellious Scots) but I do definitely recall the English Hymnal having some verse about Victoria when I was at school – maybe that was one of Hickson’s amended verses.

  • Euan Gray

    And of historical note, the use of words in the Russian anthem can be dated to the Canada-Russia hockey series of 1972

    The words were written in 1944 by Mikhalkov, at the same time as Alexandrov’s melody was adopted. The anthem as adopted in 1944 mentions Stalin, and after his death and the demise of the personality cult the anthem was generally used without words. In 1977, the words were re-written to remove Stalin, and from then on words were sung.


  • Walter E. Wallis

    Columbia the gem of the oceans was still, in the late 30s, being touted as a better anthem.
    Australia headed downhill when they dumped Waltzing, Mathilda. Canada should take Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag and set words to it.
    Finlandia is on top by any measure, especially as it was writtenuinder the gun.

  • Jerusalem is a fantastic national song… absolutely pulverises God Save The Queen.

  • Ken

    Best? I’m no lover of the Welsh, but hearing them belt out their national anthem at rugby matches is something else. And after that, France, I think.

    Worst? Moldova, whose national anthem is “Awaken thee, Romanian, from your deathly slumber”. And it has a tune to match the awfulness of its name. It’s the national anthem of Romania, too, but Moldova wins for having such unoriginality on winning independence they couldn’t even find their own anthem.

  • Verity

    ‘Land of Hope And Glory’? In a land with little hope and no glory, sung ironically?

  • RAB

    I did try.
    Waddia mean “some people” Verity?
    Surely everyone loves me!
    Ken, yew are goin in the bible black book butty!
    No more Lavabread and cockles for you!!

  • I like Rule Britannia too – but I’ve never heard Jerusalem so I’ll have to take your word for it. As an aussie, I agree Advance Australia Fair sucks. “I Am Australian” Would be far better, as would “khe sahn” or even “Baa Baa Black Sheep” for that matter. AAF is truly awful.

  • Robert said a mouth-full about the US anthem. It’s a horrible piece of music for most people to try to sing, and I really don’t find that melody terribly appealing even in the throat of someone who knows what they’re doing.

    I vastly prefer “America The Beautiful”, although my own arrangement for the past fifteen years or so has been strictly from the blues.

  • Verity

    “Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain …” … I think America The Beautiful sums up the United States, and is much easier on the ear, and to sing, than The Star Spangled Banner. It speaks of the space, the plenitude, the confidence of America. And the tune is caressing, loving.

  • Kim du Toit

    1. Britain doesn’t rule the waves anymore, and thanks to NuLabour they’re on the express line to slavery. So Rule Britannia is right out. Not much glory left, and hope… oy. Jerusalem it is, then.

    2. America The Beautiful is nice, but right out — “God shed his grace on thee” — the ACLU would have a fit, the filthy Commies. But it’s still better than the Banner, which is as many have said, unsingable by almost everyone. (It’s nice and warlike, though — which angers the peaceniks and the wussies.)

    3. And only the Canucks could meld a thistle, rose and shamrock to get a maple leaf. GM plants, anyone?

    4. Hard to beat the S. Africans for multi-culti foolishness — four languages? Oy. The old national anthem was liked by 5% of the population, even though the other 95% thought it stank, so Afrika is a distinct improvement.

    (Side note: when the ANC came to power, my Mom called one of my aunts, a staunch Afrikaner, and asked her what she thought of the new anthem and flag. My aunt replied: “Well, we’ve always sung Nkosi Sikilel’ iAfrika, even as kids, and it’s very pretty.

    “As for the new flag: at last, we finally got rid of that bloody Union Jack from the old one.”

  • Matt O’Halloran

    The Libertarian anthem has to be Madonna’s Material Girl.

  • Nkosi sikelele iAfrika and La Marseillaise are the best, I think, and I like Kimigayo as well, especially when it is played on Japanese instruments instead of Western ones. As for the Star Spangled Banner, I would remind everyone that the music is from an old drinking song titled To Anacreon in heaven, and if a bunch of drunks in a saloon can sing the damn thing, so can people at a ball game.

  • Nick M

    Kim du Toit,
    Does anyone seriously consider such a one dimensional piece of jingoism as “Rule Britannia” as a realistic National Anthem for the UK at any point in time? At it’s greatest the British Empire was also an enormous land empire.

    Your second point, I don’t like bringing God into national issues. I firmly believe that the secular state is the only way forward. I’m not an iconoclast and I am (as a Brit) moved by such tunes as “Jerusalem” but only because they’re from the past. Tradition has its virtues, not least that it’s interpretable rather than didactic.

    To adopt a hymn as the new anthem of any modern state in the C21 is well off. There is a very strong need for a seperation of church and state in order for both to flourish.

    I see nothing wrong (in an intrinsically multi-lingual country) in having a four language anthem. The most obvious alternative is to go all Canadian (translations into other languages). That’s just about workable in a bi-lingual country. In the RSA…

    I appreciate what you said about losing the Union Flag from the RSA flag. You’re also lucky to lose the two other itty-bitty little flags from the centre of the old RSA flag. That central trinity lacked graphic simplicity – not an easy thing for a kid to draw or for anyone to recognise from a distance.

    I thought about diverting this thread into flag design earlier but desisted. I was going to nominate the Union flag as best and Libya (just plain green – no design) and Rwanda (a forgettable tricolour with a big capital “R” in the centre) as the worst.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned the US adopting “The Battle Hymn of The Republic”.

  • Julian Taylor

    ‘Land of Hope And Glory’? In a land with little hope and no glory, sung ironically?

    What should we sing then? The Yellow Rose of Texas? Maybe some of us still love our country enough to stay living in it and fighting back instead of chickening out and running off to another country where they can carp from long distance.

  • I’ve always liked the music of the Hungarian national anthem… but the theme “please don’t hurt the Hungarians” (aka “come on, God, haven’t we had *enough already?”*) is too much like a sign at a petting zoo.


  • I like national anthems short and sweet. Any anthem that takes longer than a minute and a half to play is a stinker in my book. (Yes, Mexico, I’m talking about yours. Greece too, IIRC.)

    Actually the full version of the Star Spangled Banner poem is four or five verses long, but only the first verse is the one set to music and used as the U.S. anthem (thank God).

  • Nick M

    Thanks Julian Taylor,

    I said almost the same thing contra Verity on an earlier thread. My viewpoint is to get angry and do something, not get bitter and whine.

    Which I guess is exactly what national anthems are supposed to be about. And perhaps why I like the violent ones. The ones that promise some kinda shock and awe. I was sorely dissapointed in 2003…

  • Craig

    Joshua has the key there – a good national anthem is short!

    Back when NBC used to show all the major Olympics medal ceremonies, not just the ones where Americans won, if an American had no chance of winning my mother would always root for the Brit. Not because we were anglophiles (which we are), but because “God Save The Queen” – when only the first verse is played – is the shortest anthem of any major country.

  • Richard Easbey

    This was a fun discussion! I enjoyed checking out national anthems from around the world. Some are absolutely beautiful! And Euan managed not to be obnoxious. I guess it had to happen eventually..

    Oh, and for the record: As an American, I think our national anthem sucks–at least in terms of how difficult it is to sing…

  • Verity

    Russ, funny!

    Julian Taylor – The fabric of Britain has been unpicked by an evil little entity by the name of Tony Blair.

    The police no longer swear their loyalty to the Crown, which is one reason their “service” is such balls-up crap. For a first world country, we probably have the most derelict, self-serving police force with no loyalty except to political correctness, in the world.

    And even now, Brian (I can’t stop thinking of him as Hugh, of Julian ‘n’ Sandy) Paddick, who personally downgraded possession of canabis to a non-crime and said he was rather attracted to the notion of anarchy – a policeman!- is suing Ian Blair, the Met’s chief superintendent and his fairy godmother. There is no question in my mind that Blair – the crap pm – is working on the oath of the military to be changed to The State as well.

    Britain has collapsed under Blair and in my view will never recover. Perhaps it was ready to implode; I don’t know. But it certainly gave up without a fight.

    Sorry, but that is my considered judgement, and I did consider it. Maybe, over a couple of hundred years, Britishness will grow roots in our small islands again – I hope so with all my heart – but it has been savagely ripped up by the roots for now by the very violent, not to say mad, one-worlder Tony Blair and his handlers.

    I can’t wait for 200 years to get my country back and I didn’t want to be subjected to perverted rule and perverted laws whereby primitive aliens were gaining ascendancy over the natives without a fight. And rape and murder of schoolchildren was just one more item in the news.

    The ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ is a nice song, but the national song of Texas is ‘The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You’. This was when Texas was a nation, before it joined the union. The ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’, by the way, in case you don’t know is a Mexican girl. Blending of cultures, but in a nice way. If you ever watch a video of ‘Giant’ and watch Rock Hudson in fisticuffs with the bad guy, Rock’s fighting for the honour of his Mexican daughter-in-law. (She’s a bit too humble for today’s tastes, but the point is, Rock is fighting to have her and her children in his family.)

  • The Russian anthem has far and away the best tune; I still have it as my ringtone despite its appalling Soviet connotations. Then again, as has been observed, the most evil people in history often had very good tunes: the Soviets, the Nazi Party’s Horst Wessel Lied, the Confederacy’s Dixie, etc.

    I have to disagree with those who are down on Advance Australia Fair and God Save the Queen. The latter only really gets going at “Send Her Victorious”, and is something which can be easily sung while drunk, which is an important characteristic. The other verse of AAF has the line “for those who’ve come across the seas // we’ve boundless plains to share”, which might give my countrymen pause for thought if they still sang it.

    I think the best is the Dutch anthem, which is an acrostic with a crazy time signature, and lyrics about conflicts of loyalty, which even invoke God against the Monarchy (backing David against Saul). It’s also one of the very oldest.

  • Nick M

    No Verity,
    You don’t live here. Are you still a UK citizen? If not, then your comment about “getting your country back” is spurious.

    I look at my country and see a deeply flawed state, but the things you see as the death of Britain are things that I see as annoyances – mainly. So what if Biran Paddick is gay and loose on cannabis. I’ve lived in London and I don’t think that matters a monkey’s chuff.

    Blair is a mediocrity, but he has done far less harm to this country than, say, Wilson. Why obssess about Blair?

    I look at America and see a country which is also deeply flawed. I see an antagonism against bio-sciences, against abortion, against science. I see a country digging it’s heels into the past.

    Verity, what do you want? I suspect you’re not really a liberatarian. I’ve given you the benefit of many doubts. I suspect you’re trolling now as good ole right-wing Christian dimwit.

    I’m sorry to come to this (mutable – tell me otherwise) conclusion, but I can’t avoid it. What happened to you in the UK, there was clearly some dreadful trauma.

  • Growing up, I had to learn the Russian anthem by heart, in the original, of course. The tune grew on me (I remember humming it while waiting for a bus to school – the power of music. heh) but profoundly loathed the context and the meaning of it.

    All I can say now is that it was strange hearing it again, playing from a link on Samizdata.net… Very strange indeed.

  • Verity

    Little Nicky M – What a little hootie!

    I’m British. As long as my current passport lasts. If I refuse an ID card when my passport comes up for renewal, I don’t know where I’ll stand, but I certainly won’t submit to an ID card. I suspect, NickM, you will. Just temporarily, of course. Just going with the programme while you figure out the odds.

    In other words, you’ll submit.

    You’ve already submitted to loony Brian Paddick. You’ve submitted to a police officer in authority telling those under him (you should forgive the term) that the law on cannabis doesn’t matter because he, not the British Parliament, has judged it so. Don’t you think that is a tiny bit mad? I mean, he personally, in defiance of the British elected representives of the constituents, in Parliament, has personally made a decision about the legality of a drug? Isn’t this a tiny bit crazy?

    “Verity, what do you want? I suspect you’re not really a liberatarian. I’ve given you the benefit of many doubts.” Oh, thank you!

  • Nick M


    As usual, you evade the main issues. So, I’ll mainly address the minor ones.

    I don’t care about Mr Paddick. I live in Manchester. The cannabis law is such a minor thing – and I would’ve thought, from a libertarian perspective, a matter for individual judgement? So who cares? Freedom is not about just about the law. It’s about what you can get away with.

    You make assumptions about me and ID cards. You make a bigger one about the UK and ID cards. They’re not going to happen in anything like the apocalyptic sense you think of. If they do at all, I know the way to Australia House.

    But I will not abandon England. Ever. I will not run away and carp via TCP/IP.

    You didn’t answer my question. Are you a troll for the Christian Right? Are you after freedom or some New Jerusalem?

    PS. I’m still amazed nobody but me has brought up the idea of the “Battle Hymn of the Republic” as even a fantasy US anthem.

  • Verity

    Nick – I don’t want to trash you because it would be too easy and too cruel. You are an angry chappie and you feel vulnerable and rudderless. That is not my problem.

    I want to read your “main issues”! Don’t feel you have to hold back. What are these “main issues” which are too gigantic for me to address?

    This is important, because it’s a clue about why vocal people like you evade the main issue by accusing people who have taken action against the British dictatorship, as opposed to whining, by getting out while it is still possible.

    Don’t forget, in the Fifties or Sixties/don’t know, British people weren’t allowed to take more than £150 out of Britain on holiday – never mind taking permanent funds out – because Britain was bankrupt. It is happening again. Illegal funds being chugged into the Labour Party coffers. An utterly, utterly corrupt, stench-laden government.

    And Dave isn’t even going to pinch his nose. It’s over. The left won. Live with it.

  • I am in the minority here.

    1. I don’t think the “Star Spangled Banner” is so unsingable as every else seems to. I’m not much of a singer and I can do it.

    2. I like “O, Canada”. “We stand on guard for thee” is suitable martial, worthy of the men of Vimy Ridge and Normandy and the Atlantic convoys.

    “America the Beautiful” is a lovely song, agreed, but the Banner is the girl for me. Too few people know the final verse:

    O thus be it ever when freemen shall stand
    Between their lov’d home and the war’s desolation!
    Blest with vict’ry and peace may the heav’n rescued land
    Praise the power that hath made and preserv’d us a nation!
    Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just,
    And this be our motto – “In God is our trust,”
    And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave
    O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

    That is pretty darned un-PC.

    Someone mentioned the Battle Cry of Freedom, which is very stirring. There are both Yank and Reb versions of the lyrics. For that matter, there is something very celtic and haunting about Dixie on fife and drums. You can see Lee’s lean and haggard men in grey forming up to charge at Gettysburg.

    However no one mentioned the Battle Hymn of the Republic. We sing that at my church on patriotic holidays — Memorial Day and Veterans Day. To hear a large group singing that one gives me a chill. I can see the Army of the Tennessee on the march, and Grant on Cincinnati, mud on his boots and trousers, heading south.

    I have seen Him in the watch fires of a hundred circling camps
    They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and damps;
    I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring lamps;
    His day is marching on.

    Somewhere around here I have a cassette of Civil War songs, and many of them, even the obscure ones are very moving.

    As to Ireland, O’Donnell Abu is a rousing patriotic song.

  • Kim du Toit

    Nick M,

    I’m still amazed that you took my tongue-in-cheek comments seriously.


  • Matt O'Halloran

    Matt O’Halloran

    The Libertarian anthem has to be Madonna’s Material Girl.

    No, ‘Material Girly Man’, going by the political impact of libertarianism as advocated by Samizdata.

  • I nominate the Polish national anthem as one of the best. Never mind an anthem you can march to, this is one you can dance to. For a nation that has been extinguished on several occasions, its optimism is testimony to Polish spirit. Remember when a Polish electrician who looked like Super Mario started the Soviets’ crash? I only wish they would expunge Napoleon from the lyrics.

    I would not want “Columbia, Gem of the Ocean” as the American anthem. Its provenance is doubtful and it would probably grate on the Army’s ears.

  • Oh Canada. Definately Oh Canada. I literally cannot conceive of a more dull, insipid, and uninspiring slog than that horrible song (which I had to stand up for every day during public school.)

  • Matt O’Halloran – sod off.

  • Michael Taylor

    Nick M
    You raise a good question: what’s God doing in the national anthem?

    But isn’t that the great genius of “Jerusalem”: it invokes God, but specifically in a eyes-wide-open creation of a national myth. Q. And did those feet in ancient times, walk upon England’s mountains green? A. No, obviously not. Repeat four times.

    But it’s a national mythologising with a purpose. Which is the point of the second verse: I will not cease etc. In other words, so here we are on our little island – it’s up to us to make it better.

    Overall, it’s typical Blake: sounds simple and great, and turns out to be complex, timeless and challenging.

    I’m also pretty sure Blake would have had monstrous nightmares if he thought Institutionalised God would have an obligatory place in any national anthem.

    When did national anthems start anyway. 1840s? as a belated spin-off from la Marseilles?

  • I have never been a big fan of the Star-Spangled Banneer partly because it was written for people with his voices and that middle 8 is a bugger. I prefer ‘American the Beautiful’ to be honest or even ‘America; Fuck Yeah!’ especially the acoustic version.

  • You have to admit, though, that the “Star Spangled Banner” is uniquely American in one respect. I don’t think I’m alone in listening to a singer attempt it, and waiting to see how he or she handles “the rockets’ red glare.” Stand or fall, it’s just that one voice and that one note.

  • Curt

    If you want to understand the Star Spangled Banner, you’ve got to read this piece on it by Isaac Asimov:


    Like Lex, I’m also partial to Battle Hymn of the Republic. The rendition at Reagan’s funeral literally gave me goosebumps, and I’ve never been a Reagan fan.

  • John K

    The police no longer swear their loyalty to the Crown, which is one reason their “service” is such balls-up crap.

    Is that so? What do they swear allegiance to now? The Human Rights Act? Matrix Chambers? Diversity?

    For a first world country, we probably have the most derelict, self-serving police force with no loyalty except to political correctness, in the world.

    That’s probably true.

    Britain has collapsed under Blair and in my view will never recover.

    We survived Wislon and Callaghan. I think we’ll get over T. Bliar. I have a hope that once he’s gone within a few years he’ll be a forgotten man. I mean, who can really believe now that John Major was ever Prime Minister? Every so often you might see him on TV or hear him on the radio, and you think “no, he just can’t have been.”

    As to national anthems, to me there is no contest, la Marseillaise wins hands down. It has such a stirring tune that every time I hear it I almost feel French, and philosphically I approve of an anthem which urges the citizens to take up arms.

  • Verity

    John K – Agree! As much as I don’t really like France, I feel proud to be French (which I’m not even remotely) when I hear La Marseillaise. I said at the top of the thread that I think it’s the most stirring national anthem in the world. What is particularly striking about it is, the words and the music are such a perfect match. Without the words, it would be another lively military march. With the words, it gives one goosebumps.

  • RAB

    Every time I hear
    “Oh say can you see
    By the dawns early light…”
    I shout ” no I bloody cant! I’ve just gone to bed!
    And what is this choir doing in my bedroom at this ungodly hour?”
    Now will that do it?

  • Jalabi

    Yes, the South African national anthem is one of the best, definitely in my top five. When I heard it being sung in stadiums, it makes the hairs on the back of the head rise. The song is so good, it’s also the national anthems of Zambia and Tanzania. The Welsh “Land of My Fathers” is also excellent.

    “America the Beautiful” would be a better anthem than “The Star-Spangled Banner”: easier to sing, better lyrics, better idea. If we must keep it as the anthem, we should not have to sing it — just play the Jimi Hendrix-at-Woodstock version of it instead 🙂 And as for “God Save The Queen”, it’s the same tune as “My Country Tis Of Thee” (which is also a better song than TSSB). You Brits should change your anthem to “Land of Hope and Glory” (ah, the last night of the Proms!)

    The French national anthem isn’t exactly very inclusive, calling as it does for the sons of Marseilles to rise up, and not a peep about the rest of the country 🙂 And boy, those Commies sure know how to pick ’em!

    I’ve always liked the last line of the Canadian one: “O Canada, we stand on guard for thee”

    The ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ is a nice song, but the national song of Texas is ‘The Eyes of Texas Are Upon You’

    I thought it was the theme song to “Walker Texas Ranger”: ‘Cos the eyes of the ranger are upon you…. 😀

    And you all have got it wrong. The Libertarian National Anthem, of course, is The O’Jays “For the Love of Money”!

  • jamie

    Does anybody know where i can listen to Belgiums National anthem ” De Brabanconne” with somebody actully singing it like singing with the words and music.
    Please e – mail me if you know thank you.
    – Jamie

  • kiddo

    honesly, i think the U.S.’s anthem is wayy too repetitive, or maybe I just hear it too much. hehe.

    I like Argentina’s anthem. I don’t think it’s been mentioned. Though, if you’re going to look it up, just want you to know, some versions have lyrics and some don’t. But it /does/ have words… But I think it takes a bit until it gets to the words, because I remember in the World Cup, they would play the shorter version.

    one of my favorites, of course, is the French anthem. 🙂

  • Hi there – fascinating discussion. I came in via a google search that picked up you guys & the welsh anthem on my site somewhere.

    Yes,the Ocker anthem sucks the worst (haven’t heard canada’s

    But have you seen the Australian movie, The Dish? There’s a scene where a small town brass band are assembled to play the US national anthem for a visit by the US Ambassador.

    As the limo sweeps up & stops. and the ambassador alights… the band begin a rousing rendition of the theme to Hawaii 5-0.

    BTW, since I’m welsh too (but living in NZ), I’ll plug for Mae Hen Wlad fy Nhadau.

  • I think Mexicos Nacional Anthem is by far the best. Its fast and riviting and gets you going. Maybe the Russian one comes 2nd but Mexicos is really awsome.

  • Ben

    Our national anthem (USA) is good if one is a skilled singer, otherwise it is notoriously difficult to sing. I actually think Italy’s anthem is quite lively and patriotic. Israel’s anthem “Hatikva” (The Hope) is hauntingly beautiful, though it doesn’t talk as much about Israel as it does the Jewish yearning to return to their homeland, nevertheless, quite nice. The current Russian anthem has a great tune, but its lyrics are lame. So maybe we should give it to La Marseillaise…its both very French, and very international and very powerful all in all.

  • Mercian Scourge

    The Welsh national anthem has to be one of the best in the world. It covers all the bases when it comes to a good anthem. It has stirring lyrics, put to a rousing melody. It’s written in the language of the country. Lastly, and most importantly, it can be sung whilst drunk and still sound OK. Check this link, and try to put out of your mind, the demented xylophone player in the backround. http://youtube.com/watch?v=ZpYogExUngU

  • Clairee.

    I’m absolutely loving the New Zealand National anthem.

    But I really dislike the Aussie one…and I’m Australian so I’ve had to put up with it for 13 years! *sigh*

  • dave

    guys you’re really ignorant to maybe the second best natioNAL anthem in the world and thats the Peruvian one Listen to it and judge AND MAKE ALL THE COMMENTS YOU WANT..you can go to youtube.com busquen himno nacional del Peru..y VIVA EL PERU CARAJO !!!!!!!!

  • michael

    I love Portugal’s national anthem, it’s my favourite one.

  • I adore the Bulgarian national anthem. It’s really fascinating and I feel almost like a Bulgarian.

  • Dan mcnay

    i will simply say, check out kazakhstan’s.

  • Gisli

    I like Israel’s haTikvah (the Hope), it’s both sad and uplifting.

  • emily

    musically, i like the Chilean anthem.


    Chile, your sky is a pure blue,
    Pure breezes blow across you,
    And your field, embroidered with lowers,
    Is a happy copy of Eden.
    Majestic is the snow-covered mountain
    That was given to you by the Lord as a bastion,
    That was given to you by the Lord as a bastion,
    And the sea that tranquilly washes your shore
    Promises future splendour for you,
    And the sea that tranquilly washes your shore
    Promises future splendour for you.

    Gentle homeland, accept the vows
    Given, Chile, on your altars,
    That you be either the tomb of the free
    Or a refuge from oppression.

  • Melanie

    I like the Portuguese National Anthem…!

    A Portuguesa

    Heróis do mar, nobre Povo,
    Nação valente, imortal,
    Levantai hoje de novo
    O esplendor de Portugal!
    Entre as brumas da memória,
    Ó Pátria, sente-se a voz
    Dos teus egrégios avós,
    Que há-de guiar-te Á  vitória!

    Às armas, Á s armas!
    Sobre a terra, sobre o mar,
    Às armas, Á s armas!
    Pela Pátria lutar
    Contra os canhões marchar, marchar!

  • Lizmeister

    Living here in Canada I have to admit Canada’s anthm isn’t as interesting as most but I find the melody beautiful. Star Spangled Banner is my favorite, very beautiful and inspiring, I cry and glow with Pride everytime I hear it. I’ve always heard that the first and second best national anthems were France and Peru. Russia is pretty good too.

  • wrzuta
    sciagam go

  • Rachel

    the colombian national anthem is really beautiful. though i don’t understand it i thought that it was amazing.

  • Jess

    Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa is the most beautiful and moving song I have ever heard… not just anthem. I love it, I learnt it off by heart when I was 10 and I listen to it as I go to sleep. It’s Beautiful! Being a South African who immigrated to Canada I can say that the Canadian anthem as much as it tries really hard isn’t nearly as stirring as Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa.

  • Jess

    Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa is the most beautiful and moving song I have ever heard… not just anthem. I love it, I learnt it off by heart when I was 10 and I listen to it as I go to sleep. It’s Beautiful! Being a South African who immigrated to Canada I can say that the Canadian anthem as much as it tries really hard isn’t nearly as stirring as Nkosi Sikelel i’Africa.

  • Pete

    I heard Portugal’s anthem for the first time tonight while watching soccer. Sounds like the best one I have heard.

  • holydiver

    i ve listened all of the anthems that u mentioned about,most of them which u said good is very boring,i think an anthem should make ur blood run faster,make u feel stronger,simply fast and strong.
    i really liked “La Marseillaise” and Soviet National Anthem but i am one of the black sheeps in here bcause i like my own anthem most.

    Turkish National Anthem

    right click,save target as…(in case u dont know that)

  • karen

    –>First one “La Marseillaise”

    –>2nd = Colombian

    Oh unfading glory!
    Oh immortal joy!
    In furrows of pain
    Good is already germinating.

    1. The fearful night came to an end,
    Liberty sublime
    Is spreading the dawns
    Of its invincible light.
    The whole of humanity,
    Which is groaning under chains,
    Understands the words
    Of the One who died on the Cross.

    2. “Independence” cries
    The American world;
    In heroes’ blood is bathing
    The Land of Columbus.
    But this great principle:
    “The King is not sovereign”,
    Resounds, and those who suffer
    Praise the passion in it.

    The whole version (:


  • Joe

    Can anyone translate the Salvadoran National Anthem? The melody is interesting.

  • aqu32

    What do you think about the polish national anthem ?, here it is with english subtitles:


    And in short version without lyrics:


    Personally I like as well Russian, French, Italian, Slovakian and USA (they have a nice batlle anthem as well) anthems, all of them sound very good.

  • I will not say ESP hymn is the best but i must admit i like Polish national hymn.

    In this hymn other nations are menionel like SWE nad ITA,
    it has a very patriotic lyric like “Poland will not be destroyed untill (poles) live”.
    Check it out: very nice



    I dont like German hymn, it is horrible, it contains senences like “we are the best, Germans are the best other sucks” I DONT LIKE IT, i think this is a pice of SHIT.

  • Eric Levin-Hatz

    The Portuguese national anthem is the best one to hear right before a soccer game– with thousands of buzzed Portuguese shouting that inspiring crescendo at the end, and then the team runs onto the field to play.

    No wonder they’re so good at soccer.

  • Kevin Adams

    I find it funny people discussing about anthems when they probably never heard them or read the lyrics. Take the US one, can something sound less boring. On the other hand the lyrics of the Brazilian one could not be better made. The French is obviously nice for the song bur not lyrics.

  • Flor

    I can’t believe such a little amount of people mentioned the Portuguese ‘A Portuguesa’ as one of the best.

  • vikrant

    i think indian national anthem is genuinely awesome and incredible
    its slower version is here….http://in.youtube.com/watch?v=W5IXJzOC3ms

    actually it should be sung in 53 seconds….above is a slower version

    another one


  • Andrew

    I was surfing about looking for good tunes to download for my phone. I came across the Kenyan National Anthem.. it is incredible! Composed by a Ugandan I found out too. Check it out at <http://www.national-anthems.net/real/KE>

  • Spencer Riedel

    The Mongolian national anthem is one of the few patriotic songs out there with a sound that reflects the culture of the nation. It’s a great tune.

    The Kenyan Anthem sounds like it was written by ten-year-olds.

  • Cheri

    I live in New Zealand and have to say I love our anthem. I also love how are All Blacks go out there and perform the haka before international performaces… NZ PRIDE! lol

  • Ana

    Honestly, I think the star-spangled banner is an incredible stirring song. Maybe the version with just one voice is getting old, as much as I’ve heard it, but you should hear some of the SATB arr.

    But, as unpatriotic as I feel saying this (not to mention just plain effing poleaxed), the most inspirational one absolutely has to be La Marseillaise. Seriously. The French have the best national anthem.

  • gang zhou, esq.

    Thanks for keeping China’s national anthem on your list of the favorites. As an ethnic Chinese, I know why the Chinese national anthem is as stirring as you agree that the American anthem is (which is equally dear to my heart). Both national anthems were born in the midst of their respective national crisis. For China, the national anthem was inspired by the Chinese natinoal spirit in World War II not to surrender to the then much stronger Japanese military forces. I am proud to say that China stands as the only country in the world next to the then Soviet Union, that has been invaded by Japan but stood the test of Japanese war astrocities and never, ever surrendered as a nation (I give Stalin the credit for leading the Soviet people in fighting the Nazai invaders back). Now for the United States, its national anthem was born also in the midst of the independence-spirited forefathers of the American nation.

    Lastly, I am wondering why you don’t put the French national anthen on your list of the best national anthems in the world. Learn to love that anthem. It is just as awesome!

  • Jaime C.

    Interesting thread, honest!

    The absolute best anthem has to be the Soviet Union’s. Right, it is redolent in communist ideals and all (well, that’s what the country operated on at the time) but if you see past all that party waffle, the deep respect and admiration for the land and its people is quite smashing. Plus, the tunes are sweeping and powerful. No other hymn equals its power.
    Good point about dictatorial nations and glorious-sounding music. The North Korean was bloody good, I say.
    The French anthem I find way too blood-evoking. It is very emotive, but the tune is honestly lousy. Really really lousy. Hell, compare it to the Soviet anthem, La Marseillaise cowers in fear (It’s all in the sweeping tunes).
    Another absurdly violent anthem is the Mexican. Sorry, chaps, but it’s not pleasant to the ear at all.
    The absolute worst anthem is the Salvadoran. Listen to it: does it not sound like a horse race about to commence? Ghastly!

    For an interesting outlook on violent anthems, go to Cracked.com. They’ve got an article on some of the bloodiest of the bunch (and guess which one figures a lovely featured star: yep, the French one.)

  • José Diego

    I’ve heard all anthems mentioned here. I still think the Russian anthem is the greatest.
    La Marseillaise is great too. Turquish, Bulgarian and Portuguese anthems are new to me and i liked them as well.
    And of course i love the Mexican anthem (Yes, i am mexican).
    For what i’ve read, you guys don’t agree. Give it a chance. In case anyone here haven’t heard it, here’s a nice instrumental version:



  • David

    Let’s bring out of the dark the national anthem of a country that is not european or of economic empowerment in the world, because really, we tend to only look into those type of countries only.


    Words by: José Joaquín Palma
    Music by: Rafael Alvarez Ovalle
    Adopted: 1897 (lyrics slightly modified in 1934)

    Written in response to a contest calling for a national anthem to be adopted, the first ever playing of the winning entry took place during a lyric-literary meeting taking place at the Colon Theater, the night of Sunday 14 March 1897, as one of the main events of the Central American Exposition, and the author of the music -Maestro Rafael Alvarez- was decorated with a gold medal and honor diploma. The author of the lyrics, however, was submitted anonymously, it was not until 1911, when it was discovered that the author was the Cuban poet Jose Joaquin Palma, who on his deathbed was honored with a silver wreath placed on his head, while outside the public and the bands sang the Himno Nacional.

    The lyrics were modified slightly in 1934 by Professor Jose Maria Bonilla Ruano, a Spanish grammar scholar. Some verses were softened in their bloody context while others were enhanced in their poetic beauty.

    The anthem has four verses (including four separate choruses at the end of each verse). Unlike many other nations with multi-verse anthems, all four verses are official and sung in Guatemala.

    Special thanks to: Tulio Soto for some of this information.

    Spanish lyrics

    ¡Guatemala feliz…! que tus aras
    no profane jamás el verdugo;
    ni haya esclavos que laman el yugo
    ni tiranos que escupan tu faz.

    Si mañana tu suelo sagrado
    lo amenaza invasión extranjera,
    libre al viento tu hermosa bandera
    a vencer o a morir llamará.

    Libre al viento tu hermosa bandera
    a vencer o a morir llamará;
    que tu pueblo con ánima fiera
    antes muerto que esclavo será.

    De tus viejas y duras cadenas
    tu forjaste con mano iracunda
    el arado que el suelo fecunda
    y la espada que salva el honor.

    Nuestros padres lucharon un día
    encendidos en patrio ardimiento
    y lograron sin choque sangriento
    colocarte en un trono de amor.

    Y lograron sin choque sangriento
    colocarte en un trono de amor,
    que de Patria, en enérgico acento,
    dieron vida al ideal redentor.

    Es tu enseña pedazo de cielo
    en que prende una nube su albura,
    y ¡ay de aquel que con ciega locura,
    sus colores pretenda manchar!

    Pues tus hijos valientes y altivos,
    que veneran la paz cual presea,
    nunca esquivan la ruda pelea
    si defienden su tierra y su hogar.

    Nunca esquivan la ruda pelea
    si defienden su tierra y su hogar,
    que es tan solo el honor su alma idea
    y el altar de la Patria su altar.

    Recostada en el Ande soberbio,
    de dos mares al ruido sonoro,
    bajo el ala de grana y de oro
    te adormeces del bello quetzal.

    Ave indiana que vive en tu escudo,
    paladión que protege tu suelo;
    ¡ojalá que remonte su vuelo,
    más que el cóndor y el águila real!

    ¡Ojalá que remonte su vuelo,
    más que el cóndor y el águila real,
    y en sus alas levante hasta el cielo,
    Guatemala, tu nombre inmortal!

    English translation

    Happy Guatemala, may your sake
    Never be trampled by the tormentor
    Nor should slaves lick the yoke
    Nor should tyrants spit in your face

    If tomorrow your sacred soil
    Is threatened by foreign invasion
    Free into the wind, your beautiful flag
    To victory or death it will call


    Free into the wind, your beautiful flag
    To victory or death it will call
    Since your people, with fiery soul
    Will die before becoming slaves

    From your old and hard chains
    You forged, with an ire-driven hand,
    The plow that fertilizes the soil
    And the sword that saves honor.

    Our fathers fought one day,
    Lit up in patriotic burning
    And they were able, without bloody clash,
    To place you on a throne of love.

    And they were able, without bloody clash,
    To place you on a throne of love,
    That our Nation, in energetic assent,
    Gave life to the ideal redeemer.

    Your emblem shows a piece of the sky
    In which a cloud gets its whiteness
    Wretched is he who dares in madness
    stain your colors

    Well, your brave and proud sons
    who admire the peace within
    will never avoid the rough battles
    if they are to defend their land and their home.


    They will never avoid the rough battles
    if they are to defend their land and their home
    that honor is the idea that reigns their souls
    and the altar of the mother country their altar

    Lying in the magnificent Ande
    with two oceans at hearing distance
    under the wing of seeds and gold
    you become entranced from the beautiful quetzal

    Native bird that lives in your seal
    protector that protects your soil
    hopefully he will fly high
    more than the condor and the royal eagle!


    Hopefully he will fly high
    more than the condor and the royal eagle
    and in his wings, raise up to the sky:
    Guatemala, your immortal name!

    Here I have a link for some videos of the national anthem of Guatemala, a country situated in Central America in the American continent.

    This one here is performed by the National Symphonic Orquestra sung along with the children corus of San Juan Sacatepéquez.

    And this is the popular version of the played and sung anthem played with pictorial scenes from some of the countries most beautiful places.

  • Jeffrey Quick

    @Michael Taylor:
    Actually, Haydn wrote the tune as a birthday hymn for the Austrian emperor, decided it was too good to waste, and wrote the variations, which became known as the “Emperor Quartet” for that reason. It then became the Austrian anthem until 1918, and with Hoffmann von Fallersleben’s words, the German anthem.

    I knew a guy in college who said that when he was in high school, he was in a string quartet that played the Haydn variations at a Jewish wedding, and he had no clue at the time about why people were giving him such strange looks.

  • Dockerhead

    Denmark and Azerbaijan have got awesome national anthems.

  • sam

    USSR has the best I think, Palestine has an amazing anthem too.

  • Having been born in the United States and lived in Europe.I have lived with the Star Spangled Banner all of my life.It is not a bad anthem for instrumental music,but they need to change the key and lower it an octave to sing.I would agree that Russia France and Hungary are some of my favorites.But while I was stationed in Germany in 1974 I would listen to Ons Heemecht The National anthem of Little Luxembourg every night at midnight on RTL.It by far is my favorite and very few in Europe know about it.I was so moved by it simple but powerful feelings that it erupts in me.I could listen to it over and over again.And even now in 2009 I can hear it in my head.

  • Richard

    Trust me, the most beautiful national anthem is the one of the Old South-Africa (Before 1994)

    Listen to this http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PcsETPco-gg

    and tell me what you think.

  • John


    easy choice..the italian national anthem

    great tune, very singable, and has one of the most powerful lines:

    Siam pronti alla morte l’italia chiamo’

    “we are ready to die, Italy called, yessssss”

  • Aneek

    National anthem that awakaned the minds of the enslaved Indians and inspired them to fight for their freedom against the slavery of the british raj.

    Thou art the ruler of the minds of all people,
    Dispenser of India’s destiny.
    Thy name rouses the hearts of Punjab, Sind,
    Gujarat and Maratha,
    Of the Dravida and Orissa and Bengal;
    It echoes in the hills of the Vindhyas and Himalayas,
    mingles in the music of Jamuna and Ganges and is
    chanted by the waves of the Indian Ocean.
    They pray for thy blessings and sing thy praise.
    The saving of all people waits in thy hand,
    Thou dispenser of India’s destiny.
    Victory, victory, victory, Victory to thee.

  • William

    The finest instrumental national anthem is that of Italian. Absolutely beautiful, as if it came straight from an Italian opera!

  • Will

    I’m English but by far my favourite anthem is the Italian: operatic and stirring. I also have to say I have a soft spot for the South American anthems (especially Brazil)

  • I like my national anthem, Dominican republic, listen it here:



    Quisqueyanos valientes, alcemos

    Nuestro canto con viva emoción,

    Y del mundo a la faz ostentemos

    Nuestro invicto, glorioso pendón.

    ¡Salve! El pueblo que, intrépido y fuerte

    A la guerra a morir se lanzó,

    Cuando en bélico reto de muerte

    Sus cadenas de esclavo rompió.

    Ningún pueblo ser libre merece

    Si es esclavo, indolente y servil;

    Si en su pecho la llama no crece

    Que templó el heroísmo viril.

    Mas Quisqueya la indómita y brava

    Siempre altiva la frente alzará;

    Que si fuere mil veces esclava

    Otras tantas ser libre sabrá.

  • mumbojumbo

    You should listen to the Kenyan National anthem, its excellent in the instrumental version.

    Even the german and italian anthems sound better instrumental, also the indian anthem.

  • Mert

    I am sorry to disappoint you, Russ, but the theme of the Hungarian anthem is not at all that of “please don’t hurt the Hungarians”, it’s a misunderstanding, probably originating from your lack of knowledge of Hungarian history. This type of enumeration of the battles worst to mention from Hungarian history is the part of the so-called “collective cultural memory”, its influence being found in most of the texts which concern national identity and history from the 13th century to the 19th century.
    On the other hand, there is a fate-parallel between the Jews and the Hungarians.

  • MK

    It seems to me that all the posts here are about the anthems of big, wealthy and powerful countries in the world. Why don’t you guys avert your eyes and look towards the lesser known countries like Fiji. I suggest you guys go to you tube and listen to Fiji’s national anthem..amazing tune, melody and lyrics..

  • Maria Lopes

    Brazil’s national anthem is one of the only that has no mention to war and blood.

    This anthem was composed to be sang during Paraguay’s War. The last continental conflict Brazil was participant. After this episode Brazil only participated in the WW II as an ally to the US (they needed bases in Natal due to the proximity to Africa).

    Brazil’s flag anthem lyrics was actually written by Emperor Peter II, and it is very beautifull too.

  • Chris

    Mexicans, when the war cry is heard,
    Have sword and bridle ready.
    Let the earth’s foundations tremble
    At the loud cannon’s roar.

    May the divine archangel crown your brow,
    Oh fatherland, with an olive branch of peace,
    For your eternal destiny has been written
    In heaven by the finger of God.
    But should a foreign enemy
    Dare to profane your soil with his tread,
    Know, beloved fatherland, that heaven gave you
    A soldier in each of your sons.


    War, war without truce against who would attempt
    to blemish the honor of the fatherland!
    War, war! The patriotic banners
    saturate in waves of blood.
    War, war! On the mount, in the vale
    The terrifying cannon thunder
    and the echoes nobly resound
    to the cries of union! liberty!


    Fatherland, before your children become unarmed
    Beneath the yoke their necks in sway,
    May your countryside be watered with blood,
    On blood their feet trample.
    And may your temples, palaces and towers
    crumble in horrid crash,
    and their ruins exist saying:
    The fatherland was made of one thousand heroes here.


    Fatherland, oh fatherland, your sons vow
    To give their last breath on your altars,
    If the trumpet with its warlike sound
    Calls them to valiant battle.
    For you, the olive garlands,
    For them, a glorious memory.
    For you, the victory laurels,
    For them, an honored tomb

  • Srinivas

    The Indian National anthem is the best national anthem in the world. The tune is very soul stirring and truly touching.

  • Conservative

    My favorite national anthem is our own anthem: “God bless Amerika and may Satan send everyone else to Hell”

  • waste

    The national anthem of East Germany is the best!!! have a listen online!

  • Zagora

    You should listen to the national anthem of Bulgaria on YouTube. The best performance i heard was on the channel VocalNationalAnthems because it had very powerful opera voices. The video is called Bulgaria National Anthem English lyrics and the anthem itself is called Dear Motherland. For me it completely blows away. I’m Bulgarian myself.

  • Ana

    Indian anthem it’s nice, Bulgarian too, but for me, it’s Portugal national anthem the best. In the lyrics we tell how the portuguese are, we don’t ask God to protect us. And the flag it’s one of the best too, very creative.

  • The New Zealand national anthem is pretty good. It it a multi-lingual anthem, in that it combines both the Marori (original peoples) and the English heritage in one song. So far as I know, it is unique in that aspect.

  • Hans

    The best national anthem would be the Swedish one because it talk about freedom, about their beautiful land, about future.
    The worst national anthem ever would be the Mexican one because sounds awful, fast and not impressive and the lyrics are about death a wars just disgusting.