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National Anthems

I stumbled upon the various national anthems, and what better than Wikipedia to assist me?
As I went through some of the songs, what struck me was the emotioanl quotient of each of them. Of how often God is implored, asked, assisted and assumed to be taking care of the country. It seems unanimous to consider only God above your country. In some cases, God is replaced by the ruling monarch, but essentially implies the same sentiment.
Else, the songs are sagas of strength and the fighting spirti, as shown by marching/ soldiers' songs.
Afterall, a National Anthem is a song sung for your home land, and inspires emotion in you. What better than a song sung at then end of war, or one in glory of the prosperous reign, or the bounty nature has bestowed on us? Man is, afterall, always moved by some special things.

Some anthems have tunes which move you by their passion, force. And yet others implore and sway you. SOme are soft tunes aided by underlying strong music... and some are so difficult to sing, the citizens might as well leave the task to professionals.

Indian National Anthem was written in ambiguity with Tagore trying to shy away from the task of writing a poem in honour of King George V. He thus wrote a song keeping in mind God, and his country India (As it was then). The result was a masterpiece celebrating the diversity and unity of India in one go. The words, the tune, never fail to move me. But I prefer the instrumental version if not a collective group singing it (for Lack of versions, i downloaded the collective vocal version, which I dont like as much). For more, go here.
Jana gana mana, made to sing it as a child, i came to enjoy it more when thanks to my dad I got transferred to a school in calcutta, where we used to teach poor children after school. These children sung th song in Bengali, and for the first time it struck me the the song has words with meaning. My pride for the country, emotions (which I thought didnt exist),...in short my patriotism started to efface in the song, as it was intended, and it never fails to irritate me that some people lack to show their respect for their motherland when this is played/sung. I do not ask you to stand in attention, but I do ask you to pay atention. Afterall, it is barely 1 minute!
Another song which never fails to make me have goosebumps is the National Song of India, Vande Mataram. The song could have been the anthem, being in Sanskrit (albeit written originally in BEngali), and used to frequently during the Independence struggle, yet revoked because of allusions to "Godess Durga" (though it can be said to equate Motherland to Goddess of Shakti, Durga) since it hurt Muslim sentiments! How can I forget the scene at my grandfathers place during my summer holidays with my grandfather tuning the radio at 630am every morning, and my day starting with Vande Mataram sung in chorus ringing through the house?!
One paragraph of the song is enough for me! What a song! (Im not alone, it was rated 2nd in a worldwide BBC survey of songs), and Im happy enough with it granted equal status as Jana Gana Mana.

The Anthem of Japan(Kimi Ga Yo) is the shortest I have come across (and Wiki confirms that!), but has won an Internation Anthems award. Succint and to the point, it praises the Emperor of Japan i.e. God (at one time) on his good governance and is what some Indians would say, like an Ashirwaad (blessing)... sayign may the reign continue for as long as possible, in very poetic terms.

Who has read English novels and not come across the famous "God Save the King/Queen" of the British? Moving on the same lines as the Japanese anthem, I find it more like a hymn. Thanks to the British having so many colonies under them, the same is used as the national anthem in soem other countries.

The 'Star Spangled Banner' of USA is one of the anthems having little or no reference to God or Monarch. Perhaps being a new country, founded by the people, it is a country which takes pride in the banner itself, in the representation of the country, and not in the person who has led the country (for there has been no permanent such person to refer to! you cannot, as of today, sing in praise of "President"!). History of the song as written by Isaac Asimov is interesting, and passionate, and makes one understand the reason behind the song.

The Pakistan Anthem is passionate and strong, as is Qatar's anthem. More like marching tunes, they are enough to move one, embolden them, and show the nature of ppl.

There are Anthems with interesting names "Hey Slovaks", "LA Renaissance"(Central African Republic), "A Toast"(Slovenia), "The Forest is full of Pine NUts"(Tuva), "Ukraine has not died yet", etc.

It all started as I was listening to 'Waltzing Matilda", an enchanting folk song of Australia, often thought of being used as the National anthem. A song which I simply cannot get out of my mind, Waltzing Matilda has deep implications and use of Australian lingo often enough. Listen to it once. Oh! and it has nothign to do with "Waltz" or with "Matilda" a woman.

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( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
29th Sep, 2005 11:16 (UTC)
Nationalism feels outdated..
Though these are pretty rousing songs-the constant undercurrent remains the trumpeting of one's country/people (what else is a national anthem anyway) as the best, greatest etc.
And today with a completely interdependent and connected world, where one part sneezes and the other catches cold-it does seem kind of cheerfully outdated. What next-'Ode to Gaia', when we have to defend the planet against invading aliens?
29th Sep, 2005 11:33 (UTC)
Re: Nationalism feels outdated..
Naturally. It s but a way to feel a part of an integrated whole. What better than a slogan or a song to do that? Keywords sum up the essence of any community feeling. Hence the school songs, college songs. MAn is a social animal, and needs a sense of belonging to a community as such. There arises the national anthems. Globalisation be damned. At the end a product sells when it goes local in its appeal!
29th Sep, 2005 14:22 (UTC)
Just wanted to point out that though God doesn't really figure in our national anthem, the phrase "In God We Trust" is emblazoned on all our money, and "One nation, under God" is in our pledge of allegiance (do other countries have similar pledges?). So there are still plenty of other nationally-endorsed references to God in our country.
30th Sep, 2005 06:20 (UTC)
Guess the money with "god" has come from the time of migration where faith would have been moving many ppl. I guess many countries have mention of God in other respects, though India as such doesnt have God in our pledge or on money.
30th Sep, 2005 06:06 (UTC)
Rather ironic to see you waxing patriotic on a day that half of our country has been disabled due to a nationwide strike.. Be that as it may, your post is thought provoking, and detailed. I myself love Bande Mataram, as sung in the earlier tone, in a rousing manner compared to the more common slow tempo rendition. It symbolises a cry to arms, a cry for freedom, a yearning all at once.
The word and tenor of God is chosen so often because, faith is a uniting force as much as patriotism for a country, and believe me, there are no atheist nation states, not the least the USA...
30th Sep, 2005 06:18 (UTC)
Re: ironic?
agrees a strike was declared, but that has nothing to do with patriotism.
and Im yet to notice a place where the strike has had an effect.
1st Oct, 2005 08:15 (UTC)
though not in the same league or genre, i like sare jahan se accha as well, its nice, as well as a few songs by iqbal about our country. Even in our local telugu dialect as well, there are a number of songs which are patriotic and could pass for anthems in themselves. But none more so than jana gana mana. Do u know it plays for exactly 54 seconds and is played thus by a great naval/army band?
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )

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