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Discord over National Anthem 30 years on

It may be marking its 30-year anniversary on Friday, but the Swiss National Anthem still continues to cause debate in the country.

This content was published on April 1, 2011 - 09:49
swissinfo.ch and agencies

Surveys have found that much of the population do not know the words and there have also been attempts to modernise the song.

The government declared the Swiss Psalm, as it is known, the national anthem on April 1, 1981. Starting with the words “Radiant in the morning sky…” the song was actually composed in 1841, but the authorities long hesitated about its status, believing that it would not be accepted by the population.

Another anthem candidate was the popular song “When you call, Fatherland” which was performed at political and military ceremonies. However, it was abandoned because it was sung to the same tune as the British national anthem “God Save the Queen”, which caused diplomatic embarrassment.

Nowadays the public seem rather indifferent to the anthem and several attempts have been made to change the words. For example, in 2004 a parliamentarian argued that it was too nationalistic, anti-women and anti-foreigner. Parliament threw out her proposed changes.

Last year it was decided that the national anthem should open parliament’s four-year legislative term in a bid to underline the Swiss Psalm’s cultural importance.

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