What Is The Colombian National Anthem: English Translation, Original Lyrics And History. Photo: APK Pure
What Is The Colombian National Anthem: English Translation, Original Lyrics And History. Photo: APK Pure

The "National Anthem of the Republic of Colombia" (Spanish: Himno Nacional de la República de Colombia) is the official name of the national anthem of Colombia. It was originally written as a poem in 1850 by future President Rafael Núñez as an ode to celebrate the independence of Cartagena. The music was composed by Italian-born opera musician Oreste Síndici, at the request of Bogotan actor José Domingo Torres, during the presidency of Núñez, and with lyrics refined by Núñez himself, it was presented to the public for the first time on 11 November 1887. The song became very popular and was quickly adopted, albeit spontaneously, as the national anthem of Colombia.

It was made official through Law 33 of 18 October 1920. Colombian musician José Rozo Contreras reviewed the scores and prepared the transcriptions for symphonic band, which was adopted as an official version by decree 1963 of 4 July 1946. The anthem has been performed in various versions, been the subject of attempted reforms and been widely performed in the arts.

The lyrics of the anthem are composed of a chorus and eleven stanzas, though it is usually sung chorus–first verse–chorus.

Here are the Colombian national anthem’s history, original lyrics and English translation.

History of Colombian national anthem

In 1819, the contradanzas "La vencedora" and "La libertadora" were performed to celebrate the triumph of the patriots in the Battle of Boyacá. After the independence of Colombia in 1810 and the dissolution of Gran Colombia in 1831, numerous songs were written in honour of the liberator Simón Bolívar. One of the first antecedents of the national anthem was presented on 20 July 1836, when the Spanish Francisco Villalba, who had arrived in Colombia with a theatre company, composed a patriotic song for New Granada. The song became very popular and was considered the first patriotic anthem in the country.

In 1847, English composer and painter Henry Price, founder of the Philharmonic Society, put music to some verses written by Santiago Pérez in an anthem called "Canción nacional" ("National Song"), which was not widely accepted, due to its simplicity. Henry Price was the father of Jorge Wilson Price, who, after living in New York City, returned to Bogotá in 1855 to dedicate himself to translating compositions and founding the National Academy of Music of Colombia in 1882, inviting the young Italian composer Oreste Síndici as an adviser and professor of the academy. In 1910, the National Academy of Music would become the National Conservatory of Colombia.

In 1849, José Caicedo Rojas wrote a poem, and José Joaquín Guarín composed the melody of an anthem called "Oda al 20 de julio" ("Ode to 20 July"), which was set to music in the key of E flat for four voices and orchestra. Its premiere was held at the Museum of Colonial Art, but due to its complexity, it did not convince the public either. In 1883, Dutch violinist Carlos Von Oecken set music to a poem written by Lino de Pombo in 1852.

Decree 256 of 12 April 1881 called for a competition to select the national anthem. The jurors for this contest were politician José María Quijano, poet Rafael Pombo and musician Carlos Schloss. In the reviews published in different newspapers, it was stated that none of the anthems performed aroused enthusiasm in the spirit of the jury and that for this reason the competition was declared void.

On 1 July 1883, the government of the Sovereign State of Cundinamarca organised a competition to select the anthem on the occasion of the centennial of the birth of the Liberator (Bolívar), on 24 July. The first prize was obtained by Daniel Figueroa, who composed an anthem with lyrics from various poems that premiered at the Plaza de Bolívar with a choir of 2,000 children. The second prize was obtained by Cayetano Fajardo. For its part, the jury noted that none of the awarded anthems were classified as national anthems but rather patriotic songs.

Composition

In 1887, theatre director José Domingo Torres, who was used to enlivening the national holidays, sought out Síndici to ask him to write a song on the occasion of the celebration of the independence of Cartagena, which was the first Colombian city to declare independence from the Spanish, on 11 November 1811. For the song, Domingo Torres asked him to score a poem called Himno Patriótico ("Patriotic Hymn"), written by President of the Republic Rafael Núñez, in honour of Cartagena, which was composed to be declared publicly during the celebration of 11 November 1850 and published in the newspaper La Democracia, when Núñez was still secretary of government of the Province of Cartagena. After this first publication, the poem was adapted, improved and published by Núñez himself in the magazine Hebdomadaria number 3 and 4, July 1883.  A previous musicalisation of the same poem by Núñez, performed by maestros Delgado and Fortich, at the request of José Domingo Torres himself, which was performed at the Plaza de Bolívar on 20 July 1880, failed to gain acceptance among the audience present.

Initially, Síndici refused to compose the song, despite Torres's insistence. He finally managed to convince himself, through his wife Justina Jannaut. Prior to that, Síndici had demanded that José Domingo Torres look for the author of the poem so that he would adjust the verses according to the necessary arrangement for a melody and give them a national connotation.

For the composition of the anthem, Síndici retired to his Hacienda "El Prado" ("The Meadow") in Nilo, Cundinamarca, carrying a Dolt Graziano Tubi harmonium. The original score in the key of E-flat major and four-beat measure (tempo di marcia) currently rests in a room in the National Museum of Colombia. The pre-premiere of the melody would take place under a tamarind tree in the main park of the Cundinamarca municipality on 24 July 1887, after Sunday mass.

The national anthem was premiered on 11 November 1887 during the celebration of the independence of Cartagena with a choir of children from three primary schools, students of Síndici. This first interpretation of the anthem was performed at the Teatro de Variedades (Theatre of Varieties) of the public school of Santa Clara, which was located in the current carrera octava (Eighth Avenue), on the site of the Church of Santa Clara, adjacent to the Convent and to the Astronomical Observatory, in the jurisdiction of the Bogotá Cathedral neighbourhood. Included within the programme of celebrations of that date was the laying of the first stone of the Municipal Theatre of Bogotá in this same place;[25] the theatre was inaugurated in 1890 and operated there until its demolition and transfer to the Jorge Eliécer Gaitán Theater in 1952.

President Rafael Núñez learnt of the impact of the melody and invited Oreste Síndici to present it officially. To that end, Minister of Government Felipe Fermín Paul was commissioned to organise a presentation of the anthem on 6 December of the same year at 9 p.m. in the grade room of the Palacio de San Carlos, currently located in the Museum of Colonial Art. The anthem was sung by a choir of 25 voices in the presence of the main civil, ecclesiastical and military authorities of the country. In the invitation to the event, the song was already announced as the "National Anthem".

Spanish Lyrics of The Colombian National Anthem

Coro

¡Oh gloria inmarcesible!

¡Oh júbilo inmortal!

En surcos de dolores

el bien germina ya.

Cesó la horrible noche,

la libertad sublime

derrama las auroras

de su invencible luz.

La humanidad entera,

que entre cadenas gime,

comprende las palabras

del que murió en la cruz.

"¡Independencia!" grita

el mundo americano;

se baña en sangre de héroes

la tierra de Colón.

Pero este gran principio,

"El rey no es soberano"

resuena, y los que sufren

bendicen su pasión.

Del Orinoco el cauce

se colma de despojos,

de sangre y llanto un río

se mira allí correr.

En Bárbula no saben

las almas ni los ojos,

si admiración o espanto

sentir o padecer.

A orillas del Caribe,

hambriento un pueblo lucha,

horrores prefiriendo

a pérfida salud.

¡Oh, sí!, de Cartagena

la abnegación es mucha,

y escombros de la muerte

desprecian su virtud.

De Boyacá en los campos,

el genio de la gloria,

con cada espiga un héroe

invicto coronó.

Soldados sin coraza

ganaron la victoria;

su varonil aliento

de escudo les sirvió.

Bolívar cruza el Ande

que riegan dos océanos,

espadas cual centellas

fulguran en Junín.

Centauros indomables

descienden a los llanos,

y empieza a presentirse,

de la epopeya el fin.

La tropa victoriosa

en Ayacucho truena,

que en cada triunfo crece

su formidable son.

En su expansivo empuje

la libertad se estrena,

del cielo americano

formando un pabellón.

La virgen sus cabellos

arranca en agonía

y de su amor viuda

los cuelga del ciprés.

Lamenta su esperanza

que cubre loza fría,

pero glorioso orgullo

circunda su alba tez.

La patria así se forma,

termópilas brotando;

constelación de cíclopes

su noche iluminó.

La flor estremecida

mortal el viento hallando,

debajo los laureles

seguridad buscó.

Mas no es completa gloria

vencer en la batalla,

que el brazo que combate

lo anima la verdad.

La independencia sola

el gran clamor no acalla;

si el sol alumbra a todos,

justicia es libertad.

Del hombre los derechos

Nariño predicando,

el alma de la lucha

profético enseñó.

Ricaurte en San Mateo,

en átomos volando,

"Deber antes que vida,"

con llamas escribió.

The Colombian National Anthem in English Translation

Chorus

O unfading glory!

O immortal joy!

In furrows of pain

goodness germinates now.

The horrible night has ended,

the sublime liberty

pours the dawns

of its invincible light.

The whole humanity,

crying in its chains,

understands the words

of the One who died on the Cross.

"Independence!" cries

the American world;

bathed in the blood of its heroes

the land of Columbus.

Still, one great principle,

"The king is not sovereign",

resounds, and those who suffer

bless its passion.

The Orinoco's bed

fills with the remains,

of blood and a river crying

is there seen.

In Bárbula they don't know

the souls nor the eyes,

if admiration or horror

feel or suffer.

On the shores of the Caribbean,

famished the people fight,

horrors preferring

to treacherous health.

O, aye! for Cartagena

the abnegation is much,

and the remains of death

despises its virtue.

From Boyacá in the fields,

the genius of glory,

for every ear a hero

undefeated crowned.

Soldiers without breastplate

won victory;

their virile breath

as shield served.

Bolivar crosses the Andes

that two oceans bathe,

swords as sparks

shine in Junín.

Untameable centaurs

descend to the plains,

and a prescience begins to be felt,

of the epic the end.

The victorious troop

in Ayacucho thunders,

that in every triumph grows

its formidable sound.

In its expansive thrust

Liberty is worn for the first time,

from the American sky

a pavilion forming.

The virgin her hairs

pulls out in agony

and from her love widowed

hangs them on a cypress.

Regretting her hope

covered by a cold headstone,

but glorious pride

hallows her fair complexion.

Thus the mother land is formed,

Thermopylaes are breaking forth;

constellation of cyclops

its night brightened.

The trembling flower

finding the wind mortal,

underneath the laurels

safety sought.

But it's not complete glory

to defeat in battle,

that the arm that fights

is encouraged by truth.

Independence alone

The great clamour doesn't silence;

if the sun illuminates everyone,

justice is liberty.

From men the rights

Nariño preaching,

the soul of struggle

prophetically taught.

Ricaurte in San Mateo,

in atoms flying,

"Duty before life,"

with flames he wrote.

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