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June 9, 2024

Top 5 ranked national anthems in the world and their lyrics

National Anthem

By Ayobami Okerinde

National anthems capture a country’s history and traditions, fostering unity. They vary widely in style, ranging from grand fanfares to operatic compositions, and some have complex lyrics that are difficult to remember.

From sporting events to national ceremonies, national anthems evoke emotions when sung or played. In this article, we take a look at the top-ranked national anthems in the world. 

La Marseillaise (France)

“La Marseillaise” was composed by Claude-Joseph Rouget de Lisle, an amateur musician, and captain of the engineers, one night during the French Revolution on April 24, 1792.

In 1975, the national convention adopted La Marseillaise” as the French national anthem. However, the anthem was banned by Napoleon during the Empire and by Louis XVIII during the Second Restoration in 1815. It was authorized briefly after the July Revolution of 1830 but again prohibited by Napoleon III, and not reinstated until 1879.

Lyrics

Allons enfants de la Patrie, (Arise, children of the Fatherland)

Le jour de gloire est arrive! (The day of glory has arrived!)

Contre nous de la tyrannie, (Against us tyranny’s)

L’etendard sanglant est leve (repeat) (Bloody banner is raised)

Entendez-vous dans les campagnes (Do you hear, in the countryside)

Mugir ces feroces soldats? (The roar of those ferocious soldiers?)

Ils viennent jusque dans vos bras (They’re coming right into your arms)

Egorger vos fils, vos compagnes! (To cut the throats of your sons, your women!)

Chorus: Aux armes, citoyens, (To arms, citizens)

Formez vos bataillons, (Form your battalions)

Marchons, marchons, (Let’s march, let’s march)

Qu’un sang impur (Let an impure blood)

Abreuve nos sillons (repeat) (Water our furrows)

God Save the King (United Kingdom)

The United Kingdom’s national anthem is one of the oldest in the world and was first publicly performed in London in 1745. Also, the words and tune are anonymous and may date back to the seventeenth century.

During Queen Elizabeth II’s reign from 1953 to 2022, “God Save the Queen” served as the national anthem of the United Kingdom, with the title changing to reflect the reigning monarch. “God Save the King” has been used since King Charles’ ascension in 2022.

Lyrics

God save our gracious King!

Long live our noble King!

God save the King!

Send him victorious,

Happy and glorious,

Long to reign over us,

God save the King.

Thy choicest gifts in store

On him be pleased to pour,

Long may he reign.

May he defend our laws,

And ever give us cause,

To sing with heart and voice,

God save the King.

‘Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (South Africa)

The lyrics of the South African national anthem were taken from five of the country’s official languages, Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, and English.

South Africa’s national anthem combines new English lyrics with excerpts from the 19th-century hymn “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” (Lord, Bless Africa)’ and the Afrikaans song “Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa).

Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika was composed in 1897 by Enoch Sontonga, a Methodist mission school teacher, while Die Stem van Suid-Afrika” is a poem written by CJ Langenhoven in May 1918, with the music composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921.

Lyrics

Language: isiXhosa and isiZulu
Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika (God Bless Africa)
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo, (Raise high Her glory)
Yizwa imithandazo yethu, (Hear our Prayers)
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo
(God bless us, we her children)

Language: Sesotho
Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso, (God protect our nation)
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho, (End all wars and tribulations)
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso, (Protect us, protect our nation)
Setjhaba sa South Afrika – South Afrika. (Our nation South Africa – South Africa)

Language: Afrikaans
Uit die blou van onse hemel, (Ringing out from our blue heavens)
Uit die diepte van ons see, (From the depth of our seas)
Oor ons ewige gebergtes, (Over our everlasting mountains)
Waar die kranse antwoord gee, (Where the echoing crags resound)

Language: English
Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

The Star-Spangled Banner (USA)

The American national anthem was written in 1814 by Francis Scott Key, an American lawyer and amateur poet, who composed the poem about the Battle of Baltimore during the War of 1812, an event he witnessed while aboard a British ship.

Lyrics

Oh, say can you see by the dawn’s early light
What so proudly we hailed at the twilight’s last gleaming?
Whose broad stripes and bright stars thru the perilous fight,
O’er the ramparts we watched were so gallantly streaming?
And the rocket’s red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there.
Oh, say does that star-spangled banner yet wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?

On the shore, dimly seen through the mists of the deep,
Where the foe’s haughty host in dread silence reposes,
What is that which the breeze, o’er the towering steep,
As it fitfully blows, half conceals, half discloses?
Now it catches the gleam of the morning’s first beam,
In full glory reflected now shines in the stream:
‘Tis the star-spangled banner! Oh long may it wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

And where is that band who so vauntingly swore
That the havoc of war and the battle’s confusion,
A home and a country should leave us no more!
Their blood has washed out their foul footsteps’ pollution.
No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight, or the gloom of the grave:
And the star-spangled banner in triumph doth wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!

Oh! thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand
Between their loved home and the war’s desolation!
Blest with victory and peace, may the heav’n rescued land
Praise the Power that hath made and preserved 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!

‘O Canada’ – Canada

“O Canada” was proclaimed Canada’s national anthem in 1980, a century after its first performance in 1880, with music composed by Calixa Lavallée and French lyrics written by Adolphe-Basile Routhier.

Though numerous English adaptations of the song existed, the English lyrics adopted in 1980 are derived from a version penned by Robert Stanley Weir in 1908.

Lyrics

O Canada!
Our home and native land!
True patriot love in all of us command.
With glowing hearts we see thee rise,
The True North strong and free!
From far and wide,
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
God keep our land glorious and free!
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.
O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.