Your national anthem: Olympic pride? Or can’t abide?

The Olympics are now in full flight, and medal ceremonies are coming thick and fast. But does your national anthem make your breast swell with pride or make you want to cringe behind the sofa? And what are the alternatives?
With China and the US steaming ahead in the gold medal tallies, we’re getting to hear our fair share of the March of the Volunteers and the Star Spangled Banner respectively. That might just get boring by the end of the Games. But try listening to all 200 plus anthems, as UK journalist Alex Marshall has done – now that’s a marathon! Many tunes are right stinkers, but some made his heart sing.

Personally, I can’t stand the dull procession of identikit military marches. And some anthems’ lyrics are pretty violent, too, as bloggers Noel Boivin and Christopher Lombardo have found out. Do these songs really represent the Olympic spirit? Is it jingoism, or just healthy pride in a nation’s history?

 And, most importantly, what tune would YOU like to see your athletes singing along to on the podium and WHY?

Should it be Waltzing Matilda for the Ozzies? Guantanamera for the Cubans? Or traditional folk music only? And is there a classic rendition of the tune that you’d want to adopt?

24 Responses to “Your national anthem: Olympic pride? Or can’t abide?”

  1. 1 steve
    August 13, 2008 at 20:48

    I’ve always liked the Canadian national anthem. I know all of the words, unlike my own. if I were in the Olympics, I would like to win silver with a canadian winning Gold, so I can outsing them.

    I sometimes go to a local bar, and there is a Canadian Embassy employee that goes there, and her husband likes to sing opera music, and when drunk enough, I get them to sing O canada, and they never remember the lyrics, and me, an american, has to sing it to them to show them the words.

  2. 2 Meg in Canada
    August 13, 2008 at 20:48

    I love our national anthem. And I think it’s fitting that one’s national anthem be played at the medal ceremonies. The Olympics is supposed to stand for the world getting together and practicing good sportsmanship, fair play, and may the best person/team come out victorious. What better way to celebrate a win by embracing your own identity on the world stage and singing the song of the country that you so proudly call home.

  3. 3 Asad_Babyl
    August 13, 2008 at 20:51

    I for one enjoy watching military marches to patriotic hymns. National anthems remind the citizens of the history of the nation in which they live and we should all be proud to hear our national anthem played at the Olympics.

  4. 4 Robert
    August 13, 2008 at 21:13

    Although it does fills me with national pride I can’t stand the words to the British national anthem. The words aren’t about the pride of Britain only loyalty to the monarch. I prefer the English anthem Land of Hope And Glory, to me a much more uprising theme to show love for my home land. I just wish it would be played at sporting more sporting events where the home nations play separately instead of being the UK.

    • 5 John
      June 15, 2009 at 19:46

      I agree about “God Save the Gueen”, it’s not a great anthem. I don’t have a problem with England, but as a Scotsman, if i was in the Olympics and won a medal then i wouldn’t be happy for the English national anthem to be played. I’d rather an anthem which represented Britain as a whole was played. I think many Scots, Irish and Welsh would probably agree.

      But back on topic…

      I love the ‘unofficial’ Scottish national anthem “Flower of Scotland”. I get goose bumps when i hear it, even if it is a bit anti-English.

  5. 6 steve
    August 13, 2008 at 21:23

    I do find it funny also that liberals seem to go insane whenever the government uses the word “God”, yet look to Canada as some city on a hill. Don’t you know that in Canada they have the word “God” in their national anthem “God keep our land, glorious and free”…

  6. 7 Dan
    August 13, 2008 at 21:31

    @ steve

    That’s a whole other program. I’m a Canadian living in the US and Canada is usually discounted or looked up whenever I talk to Americans about it. It doesn’t help that my country isn’t winning any medals. I love my national anthem, too, and I’d sure like to hear it played in these games.

  7. 8 Brett
    August 13, 2008 at 22:53

    I’d love to see traditional folk instead of our Anthem.

  8. 9 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    August 14, 2008 at 01:01

    Hi WHYers!

    I am a little conflicted about my National Anthem which I enjoy singing. However, I am often forced to question its legitimacy in terms of how the National Anthem came to be. As a sign that we were ‘independent’ of colonial British rule, the Anthem was commissioned to mark the ‘freedom’, at least politically, from the influences of direct British involvement.

    What is curious, however, is that the Queen in the form of the Governor General is still the head of the Commonwealth. This even while, unlike other parts of the Commonwealth, Jamaicans need a visa to travel to the ‘motherland’. A most curious state of affairs, then, when read in terms of the symbolism of the National Anthem – a prayer to a Christian God that many claim to believe in but which, in reality, they may not always follow the tenets of the faith formed around said religion.

  9. 10 Vijay
    August 14, 2008 at 03:41

    A flag,an Anthem and a uniform might have been relevant in 1896,however for 2012 everyone should compete under the Olympic flag(No national flags),where their team uniform ,and request whatever tune they like as their winning anthem.

  10. 11 Shirley
    August 14, 2008 at 05:02

    I’ve heard that the melody of the US national anthem was an English beer drinking song. Has anyone else heard this?

  11. 12 roebert
    August 14, 2008 at 08:15

    National anthems are sentimentalist twaddle. The way you’re supposed to leap to attention and put your hand to your heart….cripes!!! They’re as bad as those ‘stirring’ hymns in pentecostal churches, which have the same effect of devastating embarrassment on me.

    I guess they’re OK if you don’t have to sing along…

  12. 13 Danny Aeberhard
    August 14, 2008 at 09:47

    @ Brett

    What is your national anthem, Brett? And is there any particular traditional song that you think should replace it?

  13. 14 Brett
    August 14, 2008 at 13:41

    Puff The Magic Dragon?

  14. 15 Susan USA
    August 14, 2008 at 15:09

    @ Shirley

    The melody was published in England in 1780 written by British composer John Stafford Smith.

    The melody for the Star Spangle Banner came from the Anacreontic Club which was a group of wealthy men who met to celebrate music, food and drink. The melody was popular with America during the war of 1812. Francis Scott Key took the melody and wrote the words to the Star Spangle Banner.

    Personally, I take great pride in our Anthem.

  15. August 16, 2008 at 20:00

    I used to think the US Anthem (SSB) was pretty lame until I discovered that the tune is actually an old British drinking song.

  16. 17 Emile Barre
    August 17, 2008 at 13:14

    The Olympics and Paralympics are about games not music.

  17. 18 David Lorier-May
    August 18, 2008 at 04:34

    I know this sounds biased me being a Kiwi but I do like the New Zealand National Anthem.
    “God of Nations at thy feet in the bounds of love we meet etc….” and the tune has a good rythmn and its even better sung in Maori. We have only had it played twice so far but that’s better than nothing we could have had two golds in the rowing if one of the rowers hadn’t got a stomach bug.
    Roebert why don’t you show a little bit of national pride eh (whatever nationality you are)

  18. 19 Sabin
    August 18, 2008 at 14:31

    National anthem is a song made by a nation or a multi-cultural country. Kosovo, for example, is one of the countries which uses its national anthem for multi-ethnical purposes, however, the Albanains have it different even though they live in Kosovo (95% of Kosovo is populated by the Albanians).
    Multi-ethnical anthem is not as patriotic as national anthem, because national anthem makes you feel proud of your nationality.
    Every anthem has its own story. Slovenians, for example, describe the peace within Slovenia. Some countries which suffered wars don’t use describing-the-peace, but patriotism.
    Every nationality has its own anthem.

  19. 20 Mallt
    August 18, 2008 at 17:40

    As someone with dual citizenship I have to admit that while I’m still proud of my British roots & have always liked our national anthem, it’s the “O Canada” of my new home that swells the chest & brings tears to my eyes.

  20. 21 Duncan
    August 19, 2008 at 07:13

    Sadly, and rather predictably, Brits on here are demonstrating their recent tradition of national self-loathing. When there is no tradition and no country left, I wonder what they will have left to hate?

  21. August 19, 2008 at 21:44

    I wish the British naaational anthem should be change. Why should we continue to pray for the queen’s blessing when it is the job of arch bishop of England. I want to pray for the PM and MPs that takes daily decisions of this country. The Queen can pray for herself. We need another national anthem.

    I do not mind the parade at all. They are coming home with glory, the parade will make us all happy.

    Can the reporters also learn to be quiet whenever national anthems are play? Sport men and women should also learn the anthem. Some of them just chew their tongues. They have no idea about the wordings.

  22. August 21, 2008 at 07:45

    I was a born optimist – slowing growing cynical in the world in which we live. However, I am still filled with awe and respect when I hear “The Star Spangled Banner” played and watch the flag lifted high in the air at the Olympics, or resting lifeless in an Elementary classroom. Hearing the actual words – especially the end – (“Oh say does that star-spangled banner yet wave, O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave?”) makes me think of all of the lives that were – and still are – lost so that we can live in a free land. Yes, there are problems. Yes, there can be improvements. But, yes, there is freedom, and it was hard earned.

    I thank my God for placing me in this free land and pray it stays free each and every time I hear “The Star Spangled Banner” played.

  23. 24 T.L.
    March 1, 2010 at 21:41

    Personally I think the issue of American’s not knowing their anthem could be resolved if they attended a few more baseball games 🙂

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