Sweden's National Anthem

The national anthem of Sweden was at one time titled ‘Song to the North’. The present anthem is titled ‘Thou ancient, thou free’ and this is known as Du gamla, Du fria In Swedish.

The constitution does not at all specify the Du gamla, Du fria;yet it is an important representative anthem at government ceremonies and at sporting events.

The song began to be acknowledged as a patriotic one from the 1890s. Then in 1938, a national radio ended its evening broadcast with this song every time and that seems to have been the turning point of it being nationally accepted as the anthem.

The song originally was intended for the Scandinavian countries of Sweden, Denmark and Norway. In later times it was considered to be referring to just Sweden and Norway. Today the word in the lyrics, ‘norden’ has been interpreted as a synonym for Sweden. Norden generally is referring to the Nordic countries. This has been the general case since the union between Sweden and Norway was broken up in 1905.

At the time of the beginning of the 20th century, numerous Swedes did not consider the anthem to be suitable. Its speciality is reflected in where it was printed or published in song books. In the 1890s it was under the section for patriotic songs, and yet in the 1920s it was often in the folk music section. In 1899 a contest was done for a new national anthem but nothing was set up from this.

During the beginning of the 1900s, verses were written by other song writers, to incorporate a more patriotic expression of Sweden. These additional verses are rarely known to the public, yet in extreme nationalist Swedish circles these verses are used as part of the anthem.

The original lyrics of the song were created in 1844 by Richard Dybeck. The lyrics were imitated or set to, from a folk tune. Richard is known to have also been active in law by serving in the court system as jurist. He not only wrote this song, but also wrote numerous poems and was keenly interested in historical research and being an antiquarian.

Instrumental performances differ in one or two respects from the original version:
•Once first as an introduction, the last line of the melody is often played
•Only one verse is played generally in recorded playing
The following is the literal translation of the Du gamla, Du fria:
(Original verses are 1 and 2)
Thou ancient, thou free, thou mountainous North
Thou quiet, thou joyful [and] fair!
I greet thee, most beautiful land upon earth,
/:Thy sun, Thy sky, Thy meadows green.:/
Thou art enthroned upon memories of great olden days,
When honored thy name flew across the earth,
I know that thou art and wilt remain what thou wast,
/:Yes, I want to live I want to die in the North:/
(Additional verses are 3 and 4)
I forever want to serve thee, my beloved country,
Loyalty until death I want to swear thee,
Thy right I will protect with mind and with hand,
/: thy banner, the heroes carry high.:/
With God I shall fight for home and for hearth,
for Sweden, the beloved native soil.
I trade thee not, for anything in a world
/: No, I want to live, I want to die in the North.:/