Why Does National Anthem of Spain Have No Lyrics and Unofficial Lyrics
Why Does National Anthem Of Spain Have No Lyrics? Photo KnowInsiders

Look at any international sporting event or medal ceremony and you’ll see the Spanish contingent stood there in silence whilst the Marcha Real rings out.

What is Spanish National Anthem?

The national anthem of Spain is called “Marcha Real”, which translates into the “Royal March”. And as we said, it has no official words.

In fact, it is one of the only four national anthems in the world with no official lyrics, the other ones being Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino.

However, as a curiosity, you should know that the Spanish national anthem did actually have lyrics in the past, they are simply no longer used (we will talk about this later on!)

The Royal March anthem is one of the oldest in the world, and it was first printed in 1761. In that document, the anthem is titled the “March of the Grenadiers”, and is stated to be composed by Manuel de Espinosa de Los Monteros.

History of Spanish National Anthem

Photo Getty
Photo Getty

It was declared as the official Honor March in 1770, by King Charles III, and that is when it was formalized as the song to be played during solemn occasions, public events, and important festivities. However, it officially became the national anthem during the reign of Queen Isabel II.

In 1879, however, after the Revolution of 1868, General Juan Prim organized a sort of national contest, seeking to create a new official anthem. A jury of three composers was chosen, and over 400 compositions were submitted!

Nevertheless, no new anthem was ever selected, as the jury concluded that the “Royal March” was already the official national anthem and therefore there could not be a new one.

In the Royal Circular Order of the 27th of August, 1908, (during the reign of King Alfonso XIII), the musical score orchestrated by Bartolome Perez Casas was established as the official version of the anthem. After all, it was important to formalize an official version, to stop variations from appearing!

The current version of the Spanish National Anthem is one that was written by the maestro Francisco Grau, and it was decreed as the official one on the 10th of October, 1997. (This is when Spain bought the author rights of the anthem, which until then had belonged to the heirs of Perez Casas, who orchestrated the previous official version).

The Royal March, according to the Royal Decree of 1997, should be played in the key of B-flat major, with a tempo of 76 bpm, a form of AABB, and a duration of exactly 52 seconds.

Why does Spain’s national anthem have no lyrics?

‘Marcha Real’ was composed in 1761 by Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros, who wrote the tune as a military march for the Spanish Infantry.

In the 1770s, Charles III declared it the official march of Spain, and it later became the country’s national anthem.

There have been a number of attempts to set words to the ‘Marcha Real’, some of which have been used at past events. However, none of the suggested lyrics have been officially approved by the Spanish government.

What is the current version of the Spanish national anthem?

Photo local Spain
Photo local Spain

In 2008, Spain’s Olympic Committee tried to set lyrics to the anthem, but their suggestion was widely criticised due to its opening line of ‘Viva España’, an expression associated with Franco’s dictatorship.

The current version of ‘Marcha Real’ as it stands is a word-less 16-bar phrase, divided into two sections with a form of AABB. There are three official arrangements: for orchestra, military band and organ.

Unofficial Lyrics of Spanish National Anthem

Spain has long been one of the few countries with no lyrics for its national anthem, known as La marcha real ("The Royal March"). But the Spanish national anthem does have unofficial lyrics, which have been written not only in Spanish, but also in Basque, Catalan, and Galician.

Spain's national Olympics committee held a contest in 2007 to come up with suitable lyrics, and the words below are those penned by the winner, a 52-year-old unemployed resident of Madrid, Paulino Cubero. Unfortunately for the Olympics committee, the lyrics immediately became the subject or criticism and even ridicule by political and cultural leaders. Within a few days of the lyrics becoming known it became clear that they would never be endorsed by the Spanish parliament, so the Olympics panel said it would withdraw the winning words. They were criticized, among other things, for being banal and too reminiscent of the Franco regime.

Lyrics to La Marcha Real (unofficial)

¡Viva España!

Cantemos todos juntos

con distinta voz

y un solo corazón.

¡Viva España!

Desde los verdes valles

al inmenso mar,

un himno de hermandad.

Ama a la Patria

pues sabe abrazar,

bajo su cielo azul,

pueblos en libertad.

Gloria a los hijos

que a la Historia dan

justicia y grandeza

democracia y paz.

La Marcha Real in English

Long live Spain!

Let us all sing together

with a distinctive voice

and one heart.

Long live Spain!

From the green valleys

to the immense sea

a hymn of brotherhood.

Love the Fatherland

for it knows to embrace,

under its blue sky,

peoples in freedom.

Glory to the sons and daughters

who give to History

justice and greatness,

democracy and peace.

Spain’s National Symbols

National Flag

The current national flag of Spain is a combination of different medieval banners. The design of the current flag was based on the 1785 naval ensign of the Kingdom of Spain, ruled then by Charles III. The coat of arms was developed in the 18th century during the reign of King Charles and during the period when Spain had started its widespread exploration of the Americas through Christopher Columbus. A republican government of Spain adopted a new flag which was a horizontal tricolor with red, yellow, and purple along with a centrally placed coat of arms. When Francisco Franco took over from the republican government in 1936, he used a different coat of arms on the flag. The coat of arms has indeed changed several times and has reached a stable form only in 1978 when a democratic government of Spain took over.

National Motto

"Plus Ultra" ("Further Beyond")

National Coat Of Arms Of Spain

Photo World Atlas
Photo World Atlas

The current official National Coat of Arms was adopted on October 5, 1981. The coat of arms features the emblems of the traditional kingdoms which make up Spain. The red castle represents the Kingdom of Castile, and the red lion represents the Kingdom of Leon, the vertically-running red and yellow stripes represent the kingdom of Aragon, the golden chain-link represents the kingdom of Navarre. The pomegranate flower at the bottom represents the kingdom of Granada, and the Flower of the Lily (fleur-de-lis) represents the House of Bourbon. The Arms are framed by two columns representing the Pillars of Hercules, which are the two promontories (Gibraltar and Ceuta) on either side of the eastern end of the Strait of Gibraltar. On top of the two pillars are two crowns, an imperial crown, and a royal crown. The royal crown symbolized the King of Spain while the imperial crown symbolized the Holy Roman Emperor with King Charles serving in both capacities in the late 18th century.

What Is the National Flower of Spain?

In the case of Spain, the national flower is the Dianthus Caryophyllus, also known in English as the red carnation, or as the clavel in Spanish.

The scientific name Dianthus Caryophyllus comes from the Greek, “dianthus” meaning flower of the gods, and from the Latin “carnation” meaning the incarnation of God.

Photo WordPress
Photo WordPress

Whilst the carnation is now grown mainly in Aragon and also in the south of Spain in Andalusia. Its origins are much simpler as it used to be widely grown and used in all parts of Spain.

The national flower of Spain becomes fully grown after six to eight weeks with a long lasting blooming period.

Meaning and Symbolism of Carnations

The carnation comes in several color variants however, the most common one, red, offered a beautiful contrast against the traditional white houses of Spain.

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