List of anthems by country

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Most nations have anthems, defined as "a song, as of praise, devotion, or patriotism";[1] most anthems are either marches or hymns in style. A hymn can become a national anthem by a provision in the state's constitution, by a law enacted by its legislature, or simply by tradition.[2] A royal anthem is a patriotic song similar to a national anthem, but it specifically praises or prays for a monarch or royal dynasty. Such anthems are usually performed at public appearances by the monarch or during other events of royal importance. Some states also use the royal anthem as its national anthem, such as the anthem of Jordan.[3]

The oldest national anthem is the Dutch national anthem "Het Wilhelmus", which was written between 1568 and 1572.[4] The Japanese anthem, "Kimi ga Yo", has its lyrics taken from a Heian period (794–1185) poem, yet it was not set to music until 1880.[5] Anthems became increasingly popular among European states in the 18th century.[6] For example, the British national anthem "God Save the Queen" was first performed under the title "God Save the King" in 1745.[7] However, the first anthem to be officially adopted as such was the Spanish anthem Marcha Real, in 1770; its origins remain unclear, being suggested to have sixteenth century Venetian origins, or even to have been composed by king Frederick the Great himself; it is also one of the few national anthems that has never had official lyrics.[8]. The French anthem "La Marseillaise" was written half a century later in 1792, and adopted in 1795.[9]

National anthems are usually written in the most common language of the state, whether de facto or official. For example, India's anthem "Jana Gana Mana" is written in a Sanskritized version of Bengali, which are both official languages of India.[10] States with multiple national languages may offer several versions of their anthem. For instance, Switzerland's national anthem has different lyrics for each of the country's four official languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansh.[11] The New Zealand national anthem is traditionally sung with the first verse in Māori (Aotearoa) and the second in English (God Defend New Zealand). The tune is the same but the words are not a direct translation of each other. South Africa's national anthem is unique in that five of the eleven official languages are used in the same anthem, in which each language comprises a stanza.[12]

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