Return of the School Anthem


One staple of the traditional school day is set to make a comeback after nearly a hundred years of absence and that is the return of the Anthem, to be sung once a week, every Monday morning.

However, this welcome news comes with a European twist.  This new ruling will apply to all primary and secondary schools within the EU and the anthem to be sung will be the European one – Ode an die Freude.

OdeOde an die Freude is based on the final movement of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony composed in 1823, and is played on official occasions by both the European Union and the Council – both of whom refer to it as the European Anthem.  It’s origins go back to the poem An die Freude (To Joy) written by  Friedrich Schiller in 1785 as a “celebration of the brotherhood of man”  The poet was later to  contemptuously dismiss the poem as typical of “the bad taste of the age” in which it had been written.


The poem provided the words for the choral movement of Ludwig van Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.    A suggestion made by Count Richard Nikolaus von Coudenhove-Kalergi in 1955 to adopt the prelude to the Ode To Joy as the European anthem was taken up in 1971 by  the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe and has been used ever since.

Only the first verse of the five-verse anthem will be sung and European Regions will be free to chose either the German or Latin version since most European languages have either a Latin (Romantic) or Germanic root.  The European Region formerly known as the United Kingdom faces a particular problem as English is essentially Germanic in root with a strong Latin influence dating from the Norman invasion of 1066.  Herr Alter Furz, Director of Music for the Commission commented that with English people’s well-known love of languages and linguistic skills, he didn’t feel that this would pose that Region any particular problem.


Altogether then, on the count of three, (that boy at the back – stand up properly)…..

Freude schöner Götterfunken Tochter aus Elysium,
Wir betreten feuertrunken,Himmlische, dein Heiligtum!
Deine Zauber binden wiederWas die Mode streng geteilt;
Alle Menschen werden Brüder,Wo dein sanfter Flügel weilt.


1 Comment

  1. Yes the Germans seem to be at our School Gates now having effortlessly scaled the White Cliffs of Dover!
    I admire the lad from Salzburg but I feel a Swedish tone would be more fitting in this present Age of Blatter where absolutely anything goes! So help the unfortunate of the EU, an anthem from the Abba (Father) school of music and poetic appreciation may be more appropriate. This would make clear all EU principles (anything goes) and policy directions i.e: vacuous and formless; catchy and presented in lycra so its shape will change easily with the swellings of age and decrepitude; jingoistic rhythms from infantile musicians; a poetic metre and rhyming sequence no better than, Humpty Dumpty Sat on a Wall.

    An EU anthem presented in one of our continent’s most ancient of languages – Welsh, Cornish or Manx, would be: erudite for the fearless, challenging for amateur musical linguists and totally impenetrable for the masses – just like a good anthem should be. What?
    Duw achub ni I gyd … la la laa, la la laa,

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