Swiss national anthem: words fail

Not all Swiss sing the national anthem with the same vigour Keystone

Only three per cent of the Swiss can sing along to the national anthem, according to a new survey. Outraged patriots can take heart, though - one in three know the first stanza by heart.

This content was published on July 25, 2000 - 15:37

The results are based on interviews with 555 people in the German and French-language regions of the country.

The survey confirmed the widespread assumption that the national anthem is more popular among the older generation.

The text of the anthem has often been criticised over the past decades. The somewhat pompous lyrics, especially in the German-language version, date back to the first half of the 19th century, and once accompanied a religious chant composed by a monk.

It was not until 1981 that the Swiss Psalm, as the anthem is also known, officially became the national anthem. During the 19th century and until after the Second World War, Switzerland used the same tune as Britain, but with different lyrics.

Several attempts have been made to create a new anthem, which opens with the line: "When the morning skies grow red". But the latest effort failed last year, when the group behind it went bankrupt.

by Urs Geiser

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