A song for Europeans

National anthems can be rousing songs to stir the citizens to action. The French have their Marseillaise, the Germans their Deutchland über Alles, and we British have God Save the Queen.

European anthem

The lyrics to those anthems can be a bit triumphalistic, referring to past military prowess. Reminding current generations that nationhood sometimes has to be fought for, might not be a bad thing.

In the 18th century the French Republic had to be defended on several fronts against opposing nations who favoured government by monarchies. The English and Scots had been at loggerheads over the border territory for centuries. Cross border raids were a frequent occurrence and the Scottish struggle for independence continues to this day. Irish nationalism is still unresolved. The English had to build loads of impregnable castles in Wales in order to suppress Welsh insurrection.

The Flower of Scotland, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land of my Fathers), Amhrán na bhFiann (the Soldier Song) are more uplifting songs than God Save the Queen, but it helps if you have thousands of people belting it out in tune. There is a European anthem set to the tune of Beethoven’s Ode to Joy – a very jolly song, nice one Ludwig!