Du gamla, du fria
|English: Thou ancient, Thou free|
National anthem of
|Also known as||
"Sång till Norden"|
English: "Song to the North"
|Lyrics||Richard Dybeck, 1844|
|Music||Old Swedish folk music (arranged for orchestra by Edvin Kallstenius, 1933)|
"Du gamla, du fria" (instrumental)
|Music of Sweden|
|Media and performance|
|Nationalistic and patriotic songs|
|National anthem||Du gamla, du fria (de facto)|
"Du gamla, du fria" (Swedish pronunciation: [dʉː ²ɡamːla dʉː ²friː.a], English: "Thou ancient, Thou free") is the de facto national anthem of Sweden. It was originally named "Sång till Norden" (pronounced [ˈsɔŋː tɪl ˈnuːɖɛn], "Song to the North"), but the incipit has since been adopted as the title.
Although the Swedish constitution makes no mention of a national anthem, "Du gamla, du fria" enjoys universal recognition and is used, for example, at government ceremonies as well as sporting events. It first began to win recognition as a patriotic song in the 1890s, and the issue of its status was debated back and forth up until the 1930s. In 1938, the Swedish public service radio company Sveriges Radio started playing it at the end of transmitting in the evenings, which marked the beginning of the de facto status as national anthem the song has had since.
Despite the belief that it was adopted as the national anthem in 1866, no such recognition has ever been officially accorded. A kind of official recognition was when the King Oscar II rose in honour when the song was played, the first time in 1893. In 2000 the Riksdag committee rejected, as "unnecessary", a proposal to give the song legally official status, repeated later. The committee concluded that the song has been established as anthem by the people, not by the political system, and that it is good to keep it that way.
The original lyrics were written by Richard Dybeck in 1844, to the melody of a variant of the ballad Kärestans död. The ballad type is classified as D 280 in The Types of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballad; the variant from Västmanland that Dybeck reproduced is classified as SMB 133 G. It was recorded by Rosa Wretman in the beginning of the 1840s. Dybeck published the traditional text in Folk-lore I, and the melody in 1845 in his Runa, where he also published his new text "Sång till Norden" ["Song to/of the North"].
Dybeck himself originally wrote the beginning as "Du gamla, du friska" (English: "Thou ancient, Thou hale"), but in the late 1850s personally changed the lyrics to "Du gamla, du fria" (Thou ancient, Thou free). The song was already published in several song books and sung with "Du gamla, du friska", but a priest who had known Dybeck got the opportunity to tell the singer most associated with the song, opera singer Carl Fredrik Lundqvist, about the change in the year 1900. From that point on, printings of the "friska" version ceased to be seen in song books, but a recording from 1905 where it is sung with "friska" still exists. The Swedish composer Edvin Kallstenius made an orchestral arrangement of the national anthem in 1933.
By the early 20th century, many regarded the song unsuitable as a national anthem. In the 1890s it started getting printed in song books in the section for patriotic songs, but as late as in the 1920s it was occasionally published just as "folk music". In 1899 a contest was held for writing a national anthem. It led to Verner von Heidenstam writing his "Sverige", but did not lead to any new national anthem.
Patriotic sentiment is notably absent from the text of the original two verses, due to them being written in the spirit of Scandinavism popular at the time (Norden in general refers to the Nordic countries in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish). After the song started to acquire its informal status as the national anthem, various people wrote additional verses to increase the "Swedishness" of the song. The aforementioned Lundqvist wrote his own third verse beginning with "Jag älskar dig Sverige" (I love thee, Sweden), Frans Österblom wrote four verses beginning with "Jag älskar min hembygd" ("I love my native area") and Louise Ahlén in 1910 wrote two verses.
Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
/: Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.:/
Du tronar på minnen från fornstora da'r,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad Du var.
/:Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden.:/
You ancient, you free, you mountainous north
You quiet, you joyfully beautiful!
I greet you, loveliest land upon Earth,
/:Your sun, your sky, your green climes.:/
You throne on memories of great olden days,
When honoured your name flew across the Earth,
I know that you are and will remain what you were,
/:Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the North.:/
- Eva Danielson; Märta Ramsten. "Du gamla, du friska – från folkvisa till nationalsång". musikverket.se (in Swedish). Svenskt visarkiv / Musikverket. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- Holm, Anna Lena (August 1991). "Edvin Kallstenius". musikverket.se (in Swedish). Musik- och teaterbiblioteket / Musikverket. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
- "Sweden: Du gamla, Du fria". NationalAnthems.me. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
- Sveriges Medeltida Ballader, Vol. 4:1, pp. 16-17
- Collections., University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special (2005-11-16). "Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project". cylinders.library.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
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