- 1795, (readopted 1870)
- “La Marseillaise”
- A stirring, steady march thrums under some of the most violent lyrics of any national anthem in the world. “They’re coming … / To cut the throats of your sons, your women!” warns the second verse. “To arms, citizens, / Form your battalions, / March, march!” It was the original song of revolutionary mass politics.
- “Hear, Mortals, the Sacred Cry: Freedom! Freedom! Freedom!”
- A long instrumental opening with a simultaneous crescendo and accelerando around the one-minute mark lends the tune a unique vitality. The enthusiastic repetition of “Let us swear in glory to die” at the end concludes the anthem on a similarly high note.
- “Easterners, the Country or the Tomb”
- Inspired by the operas of Gioachino Antonio Rossini, the Uruguayan national anthem has more in common with an aria than other anthems. It concludes with a rousing cabaletta, an energizing staccato repetition of the phrase “We will fulfill!”
- “His Imperial Majesty’s Reign”
- Though the song was formally adopted in the 19th century, the lyrics actually date to a waka poem from the Heian period (794–1185). The slowness of the tune, which contains a swelling crescendo, pairs well with its lyrics, which ask, “May your reign / Continue … / Until the tiny pebbles / Grow into massive boulders.”
- United States
- “The Star-Spangled Banner”
- The same intervallic leaps that make it impossible to sing lend the American national anthem the emotionality it lacks in its lyrics. Not bad for music that began its life as the house ditty of a gentlemen’s club.
- “O God of All Creation”
- A rare example of a national anthem composed in the minor key, the Kenyan national anthem, based on a traditional Pokomo tune, eschews the over-the-top patriotism and drama of other national anthems for something more spiritual in nature.
- “State Anthem of the Russian Federation”
- There is no buildup needed here: the Russian anthem — adopted by the wartime Soviet Union in 1944 to replace the insufficiently nationalist “Internationale,” and brought back with new lyrics in 2000 — starts bombastic and remains bombastic the whole way through. But the old lyrics, including “We fought for the future, destroyed the invaders / And brought to our homeland the laurels of fame,” have a je ne sais quoi unmatched by the newer “The people’s wisdom, given by our ancestors. / Glory to the country. We are proud of you!”
The Full Monty
China’s title: 六只裸猪
Six Naked Pigs
A stirring, steady march thrums under some of the most violent lyrics of any national anthem in the world. “They’re coming … / To cut the throats of your sons, your women!” warns the second verse. “To arms, citizens, / Form your battalions, / March, march!” It was the original song of revolutionary mass politics.