I watched the football World Cup semi-final match between Spain and Germany early yesterday morning. Before each game starts, the national anthem of the two countries are played. I had not previously paid any attention to the anthems played at the previous matches but this time round I was quite captivated by the national song of Germany. It has a beautiful melody and to my mind, is the best anthem I have heard so far.
This prompted me to do a bit of online reading on this subject. According to Wikipedia, a national anthem is a patriotic musical composition recognized by a nation's government as the official national song or by convention through the use by its people. They are played on national holidays and festivals, and have also come to be closely connected with sporting events. Most of the best-known anthems were written by little-known or unknown composers. For example, the author of the British national anthem `God Save The Queen' cannot be verified or is disputed.
In rare cases, there are anthems of some countries that were written by famous composers. Germany is one such example. Their anthem titled `Das Deutschlandlied' (The Song of Germany) was written by classical composer Joseph Hadyn. No wonder it sounds so lovely.
By comparison, our national anthem Negaraku, is based on a folk song called Terang Bulan. This song is said to be adopted from a French composition titled La Rosalie written by Pierre-Jean de Béranger. It was originally popular in the Seychelles islands, where the Sultan of Perak was living in exile. I am a bit amused upon reading how the melody came to be the Perak state anthem which later got selected to be Malaya's anthem upon independence. Even well before that date, a version of the song was commercially recorded under the title of Mamula Moon with a distinctive Hawaiian tune. You can google the title for a Youtube video and listen for yourself.
I then read up on the anthem of Spain, the other country in the second semi-final game. Interestingly, Spain's national song La Marcha Real (The Royal March), has no official lyrics. No wonder I didn't see any of the Spanish players singing when their anthem was played. Imagine that... a national anthem with no words. If Negaraku was a wordless song, then we would be standing still during weekly school assemblies just listening to it being played, with no need for our voices to be heard.