Songs the Nations Sing

July 16, 2011

Sometimes I feel that patriotism, or its negative form, jingoism, causes a lot of strife in this world. We are , I think, now so interconnected that surely we don’t belong to just ONE country any more? I feel just as comfortable in Europe or the US or in Africa, because I do feel that people are the same everywhere…it’s just that customs may differ, and appearances. But the emotions and ties the bind us and the thoughts and ideas that move us, seem to be much the same all over the world.

However, the love of the county one was born in (or more importantly, grew up in) seems to be such a lovely thing, and nowhere have I seen a better demonstration of it than here in America, when their

National Anthem, the Star-Spangled Banner

is sung….

In vocal, here:

(several celebrity singers have sung can google for them)

and with instrumentals here:

The not-so-good part about the lyrics, of course, the references to war and rockets and perilous fight and bombs bursting…in this sense I love the Indian anthem, which is more exalted and which rather pragmatically describes the diversity of India.

Most public gatherings still start with the rendition, and it is moving to watch the entire audience on their feet, singing. The wonderful part is that almost every American places hes hand over hes heart as s/he sings. I cannot sing this anthem, but I am moved by the rendition each time, as I am by the love of the country that I see all around me, as the Americans sing.

Now this is definitely a practice that, I feel, should be re-introduced in India. For many years, we had

Jana Gana Mana

played at the beginning or end of plays and movies.

Here’s the version (instrumental) that used to be played (with that billowing flag!):

When did we stop the practice? I used to feel unhappy at seeing people walking and sidling their way even though the anthem was playing. Perhaps the lack of respect given to the anthem was instrumental in its rendition being stopped?

Here is one rendition:

One by various musicians, with A R Rahman:

If we truly do love and respect our country of birth and life, surely we can take three minutes to stand respectfully when the anthem is sung, and reflect on what our mother has given us. Patriotism is not only cheering the cricket team on… consists also of these moments of silent reflection, of these occasions when the person sings with the heart as well as the voice, praising the nation and revering its flag.

I wish there were now a global song…perhaps We Are The World would be a fitting World Anthem?

Here’s a rendition by some well-known singers, including the two who wrote the song

It moves me without fail. I don’t propose to go into the issues of different countries, different languages, different cultures. Each national anthem is so beautiful, and surely no one could ever choose one above all others…so I feel a global anthem would be best. I would love a global anthem that exalts what is good, without referring to strife or war or poverty, or need…. just as the Indian anthem does.