National anthems are played and sung (most countries have words as well as music) on important occasions in the life of a nation and at international competitions. But what are they actually about? What do the lyrics tell us about the nation? Do they tell us more about the here-and-now or about history and heritage? What messages are they seeking to convey about a nation to its people and the wider world?
Use some of the following sources to find out more about your own nation’s anthem and the anthems of the other nations you have chosen to study. You might want to start here, and listen to the sound recording as well as reading the lyrics (scroll down the page for the English translation): https://www.lyricsondemand.com/miscellaneouslyrics/nationalanthemslyrics/
There are some interesting facts here as well:
Consider these questions:
- What mood does the music convey? Is it serious, uplifting, rousing? How did it make you feel?
- Do the lyrics tell a story or describe something? What and how?
- Can you find anything out about the anthem’s history? When and why was it written?
- What messages about the nation do you think the anthem aims to convey?
- Do those messages fit with how you view the nation?
Watch and Learn:
See if you can find a video of the anthem being sung (e.g. at the Olympics or a sports event).
- What are the most common circumstances in which the anthem is sung? Why do you think this is?
- What impact does the anthem have on those that are filmed singing it?
- Do they seem to know the words? What is their body language?
- What might this tell you about their regard for their national anthem and its importance to them?
Capture some thoughts:
Note down some of the key lyrics of your nation’s anthem (ready for the summary activity at the end of this section) and make some notes about each of the anthems you have studied on the Symbols of National Identity worksheet.