There are two national anthems that I rank at the top of the list of anthems in the world. At the first spot is Russia’s – mostly because of the melody.
Then, at the second spot, is my own country’s anthem – Norway. The melody is second to Russia’s – but only marginally so, but the lyrics are amazing. It starts by declaring the most obvious thing in the world:
Yes, we love this country!Bjørnstjerne Bjørnson
The lyrics are a completely unabashed declaration of love for the country, namedropping all the greatest kings of Norway, and making sure to remind every Norwegian about our hard-earned freedom in the form of our constitution.
Norseman, whatsoe’er thy station,
Thank thy God whose power
willed and wrought the land’s salvation
In her darkest hour.
All our mothers sought with weeping
And our sires in fight,
God has fashioned in His keeping
Till we gained our right.
But we also have a rich poetic and national romantic tradition which we invoke heavily on this special day of our constitution, the 17th of May. When Ivar Aasen was assembling our new language, Nynorsk, he wrote one of the greatest poems ever written in Norwegian history. It is about how Norwegians have, despite the harsh conditions of our country, clung to our land come what may.
1. Millom Bakkar og Berg ut med Havet
heve Nordmannen fenget sin Heim,
der han sjølv heve Tufterna gravet
og sett sjølv sine Hus uppaa deim.
2. Han saag ut paa dei steinutte Strender;
det var ingen, som der hadde bygt.
«Lat oss rydja og byggja oss Grender,
og so eiga me Rudningen trygt.»
3. Han saag ut paa det baarutte Havet;
der var ruskutt aa leggja ut paa;
men der leikade Fisk ned i Kavet,
og den Leiken den vilde han sjaa.
4. Fram paa Vetteren stundom han tenkte:
Giv eg var i eit varmare Land!
Men naar Vaarsol i Bakkarne blenkte,
fekk han Hug til si heimlege Strand.
5. Og naar Liderna grønka som Hagar,
naar det laver av Blomar paa Straa,
og naar Næter er ljosa som Dagar,
kann han ingenstad vænare sjaa.
This poem has been sung, performed and recreated in countless iterations. One of the best ones in recent history may be a TV commercial that highlights the brilliance of Norway.
As a Norwegian living abroad, celebrating for the first time in my life away from Norwegian soil, I can honestly say that I’ve never been more proud of or longed back to my country more than today.