The Two Anthems of Denmark

Every country has one national anthem which it uses to represent itself in official functions and occasions. Denmark, along with New Zealand can be considered unique in the sense that it has two, which it uses either alone or played in succession, when the occasion calls for it. Each one though has its primary use.

“Der er et yndigt land”, translated as “There is a lovely land”is Denmark’s official civil anthem. The lyrics were written by Adam Oehlenschläger with music by Hans Ernst Krøyer. There were at least two other melodies considered for use for the same purpose but failed to gain nationwide adoption. 

From the original 12 verses, singing of the song was eventually limited to include the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and last verses. In common use, the first stanza plus the last three lines of the last stanza are sung. It holds equal status with the other national anthem.

“Kong Christian stod ved hojen mast”which translates to “King Christian stood by the lofty mast”is traditionally used for royal and military functions. It speaks about the heroics of Danish sailors during war in the 17th and 18th centuries. This is sung without fail during New Year’s Eve at midnight. It is known to be one of the oldest national anthems existing today.

The Royal anthem is expected to be played only when royalty is present. In the absence of royalty, the playing of the civil anthem is considered sufficient. Outside of Denmark, the royal anthem usually suffices.

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