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What Is National Anthem Of Mexico: History, Lyrics In Spanish and English. Photo Flickr

What is Mexico’s national anthem?

The national anthem of Mexico is known as Himno Nacional Mexicano in Spanish. It is also called “Mexicanos, al grito de guerra,” which translates to mean “Mexicans, at the cry of war.” The lyrics for the anthem were originally written in 1853 by Francisco Gonzalez Bocanegra as a result of a federal contest. These lyrics were based on historic battle victories in Mexico, as well as calls for continued defense of the country and national unity. Bocanegra approached Jaime Nuno to compose the music to accompany the lyrics, and the music was completed in 1854. It was during that same year that the song was adopted as the de facto national anthem and went into use.

The original song featured ten stanzas. However, like most other nations, Mexico has shortened this version to create the official national anthem. In 1943, it was designated that the chorus, 1st, 5th, 6th and 10th stanzas would make up the official national anthem. Some sporting events and TV and radio programs use an abridged version of the official anthem. The people of Mexico take the national anthem very seriously as it encourages national unity. Some describe the anthem as a symbol of “Mexican identity.” The government also takes the anthem quite seriously and will impose penalties such as fines when it is performed incorrectly.

Many historians consider the Mexican national anthem as one of the most beautiful in the world. By reading or hearing it you can guess it is about war, but the central theme is really the peace that comes afterward and how it praises the importance and honor of defending the motherland.

Pre-national anthem

Before the national anthem was written and accepted, a piece of music was being promoted by Italians Claudio Linatti y Florencio Galli, that was written by Cuban José María Heredia with music by the German composer Ernest Ferdinand Wezel. In 1850 a composition by Jose M. Lozada with music by Carlos Bochsa was presented in Mexico’s national theater and then another in the same year by composer Henri Herz.

Since there could be no concensus on what should be the country’s national song, in 1853 President Antonio López de Santa Anna announced a federal contest for the writing of the national hymn’s lyrics and music.

How was Mexican National Anthem composed?

Photo Flickr
Photo Flickr

President Santa Ana—who many still hold responsible for the territory loss—called for a contest in 1853 to make an epic to commemorate the Tampico battle, the last military encounter against the Spanish Empire in Mexico. The winning lyrics and music would later become the Mexican national anthem.

The Lyrics

Francisco González Bocanegra was a 30-year-old talented Mexican poet who was reluctant to participate. Many of his family and friends tried to convince him but any attempt was useless as he thought of himself to be a love poet.

It wasn’t until Guadalupe González del Pino, his fiancée, lured him into a bedroom under false pretenses with the help of her father. Once in, she locked the door preventing him from getting out and forced him to write something for the competition. According to oral tradition, she would slip food and water under his door and had placed pictures of Mexican victories inside the room for inspiration.

After 4 hours he was out with a 10-stanza entry worthy of competing that Guadalupe approved. As a result, the judges unanimously selected his work as the winning piece.

Many years later, and after a parade of anthems that had a fleeting success, President Porfirio Díaz defended this one and popularized it as the one, only and new Mexican national anthem.

Almost a century after Bocanegra won—for which he never received any kind of recognition—the government took six stanzas out of the official Mexican national anthem, leaving the first, fifth, sixth and tenth, plus the chorus. The cause for this was that some of them praised Mexican political and historical characters that became villains and traitors. Among them were Antonio López de Santa Ana and Mexico’s first Emperor Agustín de Iturbide. This is the exact reason why people didn’t love the Mexican national anthem immediately.

The most famous verse is “Mexicans at the cry of war” (Mexicanos al grito de guerra) which is also how it begins. Although all verses allude to war, if you read it carefully—you can find the full version on the Mexican national anthem lyrics section—it tells us how they long for peace but if the enemy dares to invade, the motherland has “a soldier in every son.”

The Music

A second competition was held in which judges chose Catalonian Jaime Nunó’s music to accompany Bocanegra’s lyrics. Nunó was then the director of the Queen’s Regimental Band and the leader of the King of Spain band.

On one of his trips to Cuba he became friends with President Santa Ana, who later invited him to lead Mexican military bands. Nuno’s visit to Mexico occured at the same time as the Mexican national anthem competition. He composed the song titled God and Freedom (Dios y libertad) with the quality of classical music.

The remains of both Francisco González Bocanegra—who shares his name with 385 streets of Mexico—and Jaime Nunó are in the Roundabout of the Illustrious People (Rotonda de las Personas Ilustres).

Mexico’s National Anthem Lyrics In Spanish and English

Estribillo: Mexicanos, al grito de guerra

El acero aprestad y el bridón,

Y retiemble en sus centros la tierra

Al sonoro rugir del cañón.

Chorus: Mexicans, when the war cry is heard,

Have sword and bridle ready.

Let the earth's foundations tremble

At the loud cannon's roar.

Estrofa 1: Ciña ¡oh Patria! tus sienes de oliva

De la paz el arcángel divino,

Que en el cielo tu eterno destino,

Por el dedo de Dios se escribió;

Mas si osare un extraño enemigo,

Profanar con su planta tu suelo,

Piensa ¡oh Patria querida! que el cielo

Un soldado en cada hijo te dio.

Stanza 1: May the divine archangel crown your brow,

Oh fatherland, with an olive branch of peace,

For your eternal destiny has been written

In heaven by the finger of God.

But should a foreign enemy

Dare to profane your soil with his tread,

Know, beloved fatherland, that heaven gave you

A soldier in each of your sons.

Estrofa 2: Guerra, guerra sin tregua al que intente

¡De la patria manchar los blasones!

¡Guerra, guerra! Los patrios pendones

En las olas de sangre empapad.

¡Guerra, guerra! En el monte, en el valle

Los cañones horrísonos truenen

Y los ecos sonoros resuenen

Con las voces de ¡Unión! ¡Libertad!

Stanza 2: War, war without truce against who would attempt

to blemish the honor of the fatherland!

War, war! The patriotic banners

saturate in waves of blood.

War, war! On the mount, in the vale

The terrifying cannon thunder

and the echoes nobly resound

to the cries of union! liberty!

Estrofa 3: Antes, patria,

que inermes tus hijos

Bajo el yugo su cuello dobleguen,

Tus campiñas con sangre se rieguen,

Sobre sangre se estampe su pie.

Y tus templos, palacios y torres

Se derrumben con hórrido estruendo,

Y sus ruinas existan diciendo:

De mil héroes la patria aquí fue.

Stanza 2: Fatherland, before your children become unarmed

Beneath the yoke their necks in sway,

May your countryside be watered with blood,

On blood their feet trample.

And may your temples, palaces and towers

crumble in horrid crash,

and their ruins exist saying:

The fatherland was made of one thousand heroes here.

Estrofa 4: ¡Patria! ¡Patria! tus hijos te juran

Exhalar en tus aras su aliento,

Si el clarín con su bélico acento,

Los convoca a lidiar con valor:

¡Para ti las guirnaldas de oliva!

¡Un recuerdo para ellos de gloria!

¡Un laurel para ti de victoria!

¡Un sepulcro para ellos de honor!

Stanza 4: Fatherland, oh fatherland, your sons vow

To give their last breath on your altars,

If the trumpet with its warlike sound

Calls them to valiant battle.

For you, the olive garlands,

For them, a glorious memory.

For you, the victory laurels,

For them, an honored tomb.

Mexican National Anthem Regulations

Photo Spanish Academy
Photo Spanish Academy

Here are the regulations according to the Law on National Arms, Flag, and Anthem (Ley sobre el Escudo, la Bandera y el Himno Nacionales) that apply to Mexico’s National Anthem:

The law is the only one that can designate the Mexican national anthem.

According to the law, it should always be in the National Library as well as the National Museum of History.

Any kind of reproduction has to be serious.

Any time people are singing Mexico’s national anthem, they have to ensure it is with absolute respect and solemnity.

No alterations are allowed.

No one can alter it in any way, nor the lyrics, the music or the tempo.

It is illegal to play it at commercial events.

The national anthem cannot be used for commercial purposes. The authorities actually took it out of the movie Jumanji when it came to Mexico.

Anthems from other nations need authorization.

The law also forbids you from playing or interpreting other nation’s anthems unless you have proper authorization from the government. When in this situation, the Mexican national anthem should be played first.

Radio and TV programming sign in and off with the Mexican national anthem.

When it comes to TV, pictures of the flag should accompany the anthem.

The Mexican national anthem can only be part of official events.

Events with official authorization of cultural, civic, or sports categories.

Military bands should be silent.

When the choir is singing the Mexican national anthem, military bands must keep silent at all times.

No translation is allowed.

You cannot translate it to other languages unless they are Mexican indigenous.

If anyone is to play or sing the Mexican national anthem incorrectly or without the solemnity it deserves, that person will receive a fine from the government. It has happened more than once on national TV while at a great event. This offends most people who normally express their disapproval towards the musician on stage.

Mexican National Anthem Traditions

Photo Las Vegas Review
Photo Las Vegas Review

As a spectator at these events or at home, you should sing the Mexican national anthem while standing up and paying attention. It is important that you remove any kind of head garment and to salute.

Many people around the world put their right hands over their hearts to sing their respective national anthem, but we place our right hand at the center of our chests with four fingers straight and together pointing left and the thumb pointing to the floor.

An easy way of testing someone who is pretending to be from Mexico is by asking them the Mexican national anthem. A famous incident in Tokyo happened where four men were arrested and claimed to be Mexicans. Japanese police officers asked them to sing the anthem but they couldn’t. That’s how local authorities discovered their Mexican passports were forged and that they were actually Colombians.

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