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How good is your national anthem knowledge?

28 February 2020 13:09

Think you could belt out the world's longest national anthem?

Think you could belt out the world's longest national anthem?

National Anthem Day falls on the 3rd March, so what better excuse is there to delve into into the world of music and motherland? From the oldest, to the longest and the one decided by a TV competition, we take a look at the world's most unusual national anthems...

The oldest anthem – Netherlands

Wilhelmus van Nassouwe, or simply Wilhelmus, is the national anthem of the Kingom of the Netherlands and dates back to at least 1572. The song hasn't always been the composition of choice though – it was't until 1932 that it was recognised as the official national anthem. The lyrics assume the voice of William of Orange, balancing loyalty to the Spanish king, God and his compatriots during the Dutch Revolt.

The longest anthem - Greece

You may need the help of an autocue system for a word-perfect rendition of the 'Hymn to Liberty'. The Greek national anthem started life as a 158 stanza poem written in 1823 by Dionysios Solomos. When it was later put to music, two compositions were created, one for the full poem and a shorter, memory-friendly version. Today, the first two stanzas are recognised as the official anthem for Greece and Cyprus.

The country & western anthem – St Helena

The South Atlantic island of St. Helena is a British territory where God Save the Queen is recognised as the official national anthem. However, this contends with the country & western-tinged, 'My St Helena Island' as the national song of choice. Rumour has it that songwriter David Mitchell never actually visited the island – he penned the popular hit with inspiration from postcards.

The anthem taken from a film – China

'The March of the Volunteers' is a rousing song borrowed from the 1935 film 'Children of Troubled Times' – a love story set against the Japanese invasion of Manchuria. One of its most famous lines calls to "build a new Great Wall with our own flesh and blood", and proved popular enough for The New York Times to print the sheet music in 1939 for readers to try out themselves.

The most unpopular anthem – Switzerland

The 'Swiss Psalm' started off as a German-language poem written in 1841, including lyrics dedicated to a divine power and, naturally, the Swiss Alps. The song has a track record of rejection after attempts to declare it a national anthem in 1894 and 1953 were declined. In fact, the song wasn't declared the official anthem until 1981. However, a televised competiton in 2015 set out to replace the anthem and a new set of lyrics over the same music proved the eventual winner.

Fancy picking up a patriotic anthem in person?

At World First we offer worldwide travel insurance, so you can learn lyrics in a far-flung location with peace of mind.