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The world's most thankless task

Cooking up a national anthem for Bosnia Herzegovina. Some brave soul has had a crack at penning new lyrics, the BH anthem having been wordless for 11 years becuause some took exception to the previous one. Given that around half the population want to be part of Serbia or part of Croatia, the task is of the measure of creating a football chant that unites Villa, Birmingham City and West Brom fans.

Before looking at old and new words, note that the old one was called 'The One and Only', which would appear not to have been the rather dire Chesney Hawkes song of some years back, but rather this:

O you thousand-years old land
I pledge my loyalty to you
from the Sava to the sea
from the Drina to the Una

Chorus:
The one and the unique
my only homeland
The one and the unique
Bosnia and Herzegovina

May God preserve you
for the generations to come
the land of my dreams
the land of my forefathers

Sounds pretty harmless, although the sentiments in lines 3 to 4 are at the very least hommage to Von Fallersleben's Deutschlandleid (colloquially known in these parts as Deutschland über alles :

"Von der Maas bis an die Memel,
Von der Etsch bis an den Belt"

Or in English:

"From the Meuse to the Neman,
From the Adige to the Belt"

Anyway, "The music came from an old Bosnian folk song. Bosnian musician Edin Dervishalidovic penned the words. The Croat and Serb populations of BiH, however, always associated the song with the Bosniak community, dooming it as an instrument for fostering national unity".

The new anthem has gone for the anodyne: "The verses focus on examples of the country's natural beauty and on its communities' common future, mentioning "Motherland Bosnia", the "blue skies of Herzegovina" and "proud Krajina" in succession. (So, something for everyone) "Mi idemo u buducnost zajedno" ("We are going towards the future together") is the last line".

And what do the people think? Not a lot:

"The internet portal Sarajevo-x polled its users on the quality of the lyrics. By Monday, 1,060 people had replied: 32% said excellent, 42% average and 26% poor".

I am unable to find an anthem for the Croat / Bosnian bit, but Srpska has one all of its own, having had its previous use of the historic Serbian national anthem ruled unconstitutional (sample lyric - "Let the golden fruits of union Flourish with the freedom grace Righteous Lord, guide and prosper Serbian lands and Serbian kin"). The Republika Srpska anthem does not suggest that they will be getting pally with the other half of the Bosna i Hercegovina any time soon:

"There's my homeland - stout and defiant.

Now let's all pray for it
We have no other land.

In my heart there's only one home
My republic is great in heart
In my heart the most beautiful star shines
My republic, Republika Srpska"

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Blogger basementcat said... 9:00 am

Perhaps their problem is that their national anthem attempts to namecheck everyone. The Americans' refers only to their flag (quite apart from the fact that nobody really knows the words), and we Brits don't even mention ourselves, just ask a deity to keep a weather eye on our monarch. It is almost as though, when someone was penning the lyrics, they considered that the Scots/Welsh/Irish/English might get a touch irate if one was mentioned over the other...  



Blogger Croydonian said... 9:09 am

Most national anthems are utterly awful lyrically, and I have mulled on off for a while on doing a post on some of the most egregiously dreadful.

All things considered, the Japanese one has to be the best as it is mercifully short.  



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