L-Innu Malti

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L-Innu Malti
English: The Maltese Hymn
Innu malti.png

National anthem of  Malta
Lyrics Dun Karm Psaila, 1922
Music Robert Samut, 1922
Adopted 1964
Music sample

"L-Innu Malti" (in English: The Maltese Hymn) is the national anthem of Malta. It is written in the form of a prayer to God; It was composed by Robert Samut and the lyrics were written by Dun Karm Psaila.

History[edit]

From the mid nineteenth century up to the early 1930s, Malta was passing through a national awakening. With the increased national awareness, it was felt by many thinkers that Malta should have its own National Anthem. In 1850 Ġan Anton Vassallo composed Innu Lil Malta, which used to be played during many Maltese political manifestations and meetings. In 1922, Professor Mro. Robert Samut composed a short melody. A year later, Dr A.V. Laferla, Director of Primary Schools in Malta, obtained possession of this composition, as he wanted to have an anthem which could be sung by students in Malta's schools. Laferla asked Dun Karm to write lyrics that would fit with Samut's short and dignified melody. The poems of Dun Karm Psaila are well known for their religious and patriotic currents, and so are the verses written for Samut's anthem. The hymn was already being sung in December 1922, mostly in governmental schools. The first time it was heard in public was on 27 December 1922 and again on 6 January 1923, during two concerts at the Manoel Theatre. However, during its two first appearances, someone had changed some verses from the first stanza. This angered Dun Karm, who protested by writing an article in a local newspaper. Ever since that day, not a single word has been changed. On 3 February 1923, another concert was held at the Manoel Theatre, performed by children from Sliema, with Dun Karm's original verses. The hymn was played by the Duke of Edinburgh's Band, of Vittoriosa.

The Maltese government declared the anthem as the official Maltese anthem on 22 February 1941. The Independence Constitution 1964 confirmed it as the National Anthem of Malta, which is today one of the symbols of Maltese identity.

On 25 March 1945, in the Gżira Stadium, a football match was held between a Malta XI and Hajduk Split, a team from Yugoslavia. At that time, Malta was still under British Imperial rule, and the British Governor was present. Before the game, the band played the anthem of Yugoslavia, and then it played that of Great Britain, due to Malta's colonial status. As the governor was about to sit, the whole stadium stood up and sung the Maltese Anthem. The Governor, albeit embarrassed,[citation needed] stood up until the end of the anthem.

The Anthem is played every day on the media, and also during all the official duties of the President of Malta, of the Prime Minister of Malta, and those of other important governmental personalities. It is played daily in schools, and during all important National activities.

Lyrics[edit]

Lil din l-art ħelwa, l-Omm li tatna isimha, (1)
Ħares, Mulej, kif dejjem Int ħarist: (2)
Ftakar li lilha bil-oħla dawl libbist. (3)
Agħti, kbir Alla, id-dehen lil min jaħkimha, (4)
Rodd il-ħniena lis-sid, saħħa 'l-ħaddiem: (5)
Seddaq il-għaqda fil-Maltin u s-sliem. (6)


English singable translation (René Micallef) :

Guard, Lord, forever, as you´ve done erst and ceasing never,

This land whose name we received, our motherly-named Mother.

Her you have draped with a light whose grace exceeds all other.

On those who govern, sovereign God, bestow understanding,

Grant wellness to those who work, largesse to those employing,

Make firm, make just all our bonds, the peace we are enjoying.


Simplified English translation (May Butcher) :

Guard her, O Lord, as ever Thou hast guarded!

This Motherland so dear whose name we bear!

Keep her in mind, whom Thou hast made so fair!

May he who rules, for wisdom be regarded!

In master mercy, strength in man increase!

Confirm us all, in unity and peace!

Old Printed Edition

Marble Plaque depicting the portrait of Dun Karm and the National Anthem at the Cathedral Museum, Mdina

Notes[edit]

(1-2) In the first line in Maltese (second line in the English translation), there is a play on words: "The mother who gave us her name" refers to the fact that the familiar word "Ma" (Mother) is also the first syllable of Malta, and to the fact that Malta (as a Motherland) gives its name to all its citizens ("Malt-ese").

(3) In the third line, "bil-oħla" should be vocalized, as required by the poetic metrics (and not ¨bl-oħla¨). Some claim that the original has "bil-ogħna", (with the most precious, the dearest light), which would make more sense, since the root Ħ-L-W is already used in the first line, and the implicit reference is to the precious (rather than sweet) light of Christian faith. Furthermore, ´ftakar´ (recall) mimicks an Old Testament biblical construct: just as on many occasions Israel asks God for protection reminding God of the old relationship, the election and the wonders done in the past, Dun Karm is asking God to protect Malta, given the old relationship and the privilege of being one of the first Christian churches, an Apostolic See. In Acts 28, the Maltese provide St Paul with light and clothing, while he clothes the islanders with the light of Christian faith.

(4) In the fourth line, "dehen" (understanding) is used, not "għerf" (wisdom). The choice of word is important, since "dehen" is a type of knowledge that unites practical judgment and learned competence. Those in government, therefore, should be people of learning with great personal maturity and integrity: neither wise old men, nor ambitious young technocrats.

(5) In the fifth line, "sid" refers to the employer, "ħaddiem" to the employee. Dun Karm is asking for kind and generous employers, who pay just wages that allow the worker and his or her family to have a decent standard of living. What wage is just is a great theme in Catholic Social Teaching since the Encyclical Rerum Novarum (1891). Dun Karm does not insist that a just wage is a 'right' of the worker, he simply invites the employers to practice Christian charity and treat employees well (and that also refers to conditions of work for manual labourers, decent lodging and free time for maids working in the houses of rich families, etc.). The text also asks God to grant "saħħa" to the workers. It means both health and strength. Health is necessary to be able to find a stable job and provide for one's family (workers who got sick too often were easily fired, and in the 1920s it was very easy to get sick or injured at work). Strength is needed do one's work properly (especially farmers, masons, manual labourers) to endure the long working day of the 1920s. In many socio-economic theories of the day (e.g. Marx), the worker sold his 'strength' or 'labour-power' to the employer: this was a major economic resource which the worker needed to sell at a good price, and the employer had to use as productively as possible. Dun Karm was not a political activist but he had a great social conscience: in the word "saħħa", he may also be hinting at the "power" that the workers (as a social class, or as guilds or associations, and eventually trade unions) need to negotiate better working conditions and salaries. In the 1920s, after the introduction of basic modern sanitation and health-care in Malta and the expanding of the naval industry (with the opening of the Suez canal and the completion of the Valletta breakwater), Malta starts to industrialize and a big debate on work relations and conditions is in the air. Rerum Novarum condemns industrial conflict and class struggles, but defends the right of association of workers and employers: in Malta, the first trade union is formed by the teachers (MUT) in 1919, a couple of years before Dun Karm wrote this text as a hymn to be used primarily by teachers at school.

(6) The above is confirmed in the sixth line, with "seddaq". "Seddaq" (often translated as "confirm") is a complex word which unites two notions. On one hand, it means 'make firm', 'establish well', 'consolidate'. On the other hand, it means 'render just, upright and true', 'remove evil, ambiguity, injustice, falsehood, illusion', 'purify': in fact this is the main meaning derived from an old Semitic root (in Biblical Hebrew, 'Zadik/Sadiq' means just, righteous). To be sure, unity and peace among the Maltese people must be made firm and unshakable so that tensions will not tear the nation apart and lead to conflict and violence. But to do this, peace and unity must not be artificial or merely imposed by force: only justice in a society can ultimately resolve social tensions and hence obtain lasting unity and peace. Thus, to conclude, wise and competent leaders are there to ensure that employers treat workers well and pay fair wages, and that workers do their work properly and use their strength productively. This is Dun Karm's vision for a just and rightly-ordered Maltese society. Only in such a polity can all citizens prosper. Only there can authentic lasting peace and unity be guaranteed.


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