I was sent the following email this week from my friend Roger Scholtz entitled: “Why I support Slovenia.” It has certainly won me over…how about you?
“On Friday there was a fantastic supplement in the Mercury newspaper containing the national anthems (with English translation) of all the participating nations of the World Cup.
Many of the anthems draw on the imagery of war and bloodshed as their defining metaphor. Now I accept that some anthems emerged from the crucible of revolution, and so understandably reflect what was often a bloody struggle for freedom. The French anthem would be a classic example. The words of its chorus sound this call: ‘To arms, citizens. Form your battalions. Let’s march! Let’s march! May an impure blood water our furrows!’
The Algerian anthem includes the disturbing (albeit poetic) lines, “We have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm. And the sound of machine guns as our melody.” The Mexican anthem also ain’t for the fainthearted. It starts with, “Mexicans, at the cry of war, prepare the steel and the steed, and may the earth shake at its core to the resounding roar of the cannon.” And then it carries on, “War, war! Take the national pennants and soak them in waves of blood. War! War!…May your fields be watered with blood”
It makes me wonder whether FIFA should release a PG advisory before such anthems are played.
[From the front page] Then there are those anthems that are unashamedly self-obsessed. Perhaps the best example here is Germany’s anthem. It begins: “Germany, Germany above all. Above all in the world…. Germany, Germany above everything. Above everything in the world.” And then it goes on to sing about German women, wine and song!!!
But then, in the midst of all this sabre-rattling and excessive nationalistic pride, there comes a beautiful surprise. Listen to these remarkable words of the Slovenia national anthem:
‘God’s blessing on all nations
Who long and work for that bright day
When o’er earth’s habitation
No war, no strife shall hold its sway
Who long to see that all men free
No more shall foes, but neighbours be.’
I’m convinced! Words of a national anthem like that have won Slovenia at least one more supporter this World Cup – moi! I may not get the pronunciation right in the native language of the song, but I’ll do my best to sing along heartily.”
I hope you will be supporting Slovenia too…and if you can’t bring yourself to do that then at least include their anthem as your prayers.