Olympic Hymn

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Olympic Hymn
English: Olympic Anthem
Olympic rings without rims.svg

Official and Olympic anthem of Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee
Also known as Greek: Ολυμπιακός Ύμνος
French: Hymne Olympique
Lyrics Kostis Palamas
Music Spyridon Samaras, 1896
Adopted 1958
Music sample

The Olympic Hymn (Greek: Ολυμπιακός Ύμνος, Olympiakós Ýmnos), also known informally as the Olympic Anthem, is a choral cantata by opera composer Spyridon Samaras, with lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Both poet and composer were the choice of the Greek Demetrius Vikelas, who was the first President of the International Olympic Committee.

History[edit]

The anthem was performed for the first time for the ceremony of opening of the first edition at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In the following years, every hosting nation commissioned to various musicians the composition of a specific Olympic hymn for their own edition of the games.

The anthem by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem by the International Olympic Committee in 1958 at the 54th Session of the IOC in Tokyo, Japan. Since 1960, it has been used at the opening ceremonies of each Olympic Games, and also during its closing ceremonies as well.[1]

Lyrics[edit]

Original Greek Transliterated into Latin alphabet
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα
του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του αληθινού,
Κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα
στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και τ' ουρανού.
 
Στο δρόμο και στο πάλεμα και στο λιθάρι
Στων ευγενών αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή
Και με το αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι
και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί. (δις)
 
Κάμποι, βουνά και θάλασσες φέγγουνε μαζί σου
σαν ένας λευκοπόρφυρος μέγας ναός.
Και τρέχει στο ναό εδώ προσκυνητής σου (δις)
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, κάθε λαός. (δις)
Arkhéo Pnévma athánato, aghné patéra
tou oréou, tou meghálou ke tou alithinoú
Katéva, fanerósou ki ástrapse edhó péra
sti dhóksa tis dhikís sou ghis kai t'ouranoú.
 
Sto dhrómo ke sto pálema kai sto lithári
Ston evghenón aghónon lámpse tin ormí.
Ke me to amáranto stefánose klonári
kai sidherénio pláse ke áksio to kormí. (twice)
 
Kámpi, vouná ke thálasses féngoune mazí sou
san énas lefkopórfyros méghas naós
Ke trékhi sto naó edhó proskynitís sou (twice)
Arkhéo Pnévma athánato, káthe laós. (twice)
English translation (literal) English translation (free)
O Ancient immortal Spirit, pure father
Of beauty, of greatness and of truth,
Descend, reveal yourself and flash like lightning here,
within the glory of your own earth and sky.
 
At running and at wrestling and at throwing,
Shine in the momentum of noble contests,
And crown with the unfading branch
And make the body worthy and ironlike. (twice)
 
Plains, mountains and seas glow with you
Like a white-and-purple great temple,
And hurries at the temple here, your pilgrim, (twice)
O Ancient immortal Spirit, every nation. (twice)
Immortal spirit of antiquity
Father of the true, beautiful and good
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame
 
Give life and animation to these noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in the strife
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
 
In thy light, plains, mountains and seas
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee
Oh immortal spirit of antiquity!
English sung version
Olympian flame immortal
Whose beacon lights our way
Emblaze our hearts with the fires of hope
On this momentous day
 
As now we come across the world
To share these Games of old
Let all the flags of every land
In brotherhood unfold
 
Sing out each nation, voices strong
Rise up in harmony
All hail our brave Olympians
With strains of victory
 
Olympic light burn on and on
O'er seas and mountains and plains
Unite, inspire, bring honor
To these ascending games
May valor reign victorious
Along the path of golden way
 
As tomorrow's new champions now come forth
Rising to the fervent spirit of the game
Let splendour pervade each noble deed
Crowned with glory and fame
 
And let fraternity and fellowship
Surround the soul of every nation
 
Oh flame, eternal in your firmament so bright
Illuminate us with your everlasting light
That grace and beauty and magnificence
 
Shine like the sun
Blazing above
Bestow on us your honor, truth and love
Note: This version, although often performed at opening/closing ceremonies, appears to enjoy far less exposure than the original. Hence its words may be determined only by listening to performances; correspondents will most probably disagree on the correct form. An alternate ending to the lyrics (used at the opening ceremony of the Los Angeles Olympics) was, "Bestow on us the wondrous prize of honor, truth and love."[2]

If the anthem is to be performed in English, then the English sung version is used, which has been usually in English-speaking countries. If it is to be performed in a language other than English or Greek, then the original version is translated to the language it is to be performed but in the 2008 Beijing games, Greek is also sung instead of Chinese. The only Olympic games in which lyrics of the English version were used in translation were the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Donovan Seidle, associate music director during the games, arranged the anthem, translating some of the stanzas to French in recognition of the official bilingualism in Canada.[3][4][5]

Languages in which anthem was performed[edit]

The anthem has been recorded and performed in many different languages, usually as a result of the hosting of either form of the Games in various countries. The IOC requires that the anthem be performed in either English or Greek. But in the 2008 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing, China, Greek was also sung instead of host country's official language, Chinese.[4]

Olympics City Language Performed Notes
1960 Winter Squaw Valley,
 United States
English This was the first time that the Olympic Hymn was performed since the Athens 1896 games.
1960 Summer Rome,
 Italy
Italian
1964 Winter Innsbruck,
 Austria
German
1964 Summer Tokyo,
 Japan
Instrumental (opening)
Japanese (closing)
The anthem was sung in Japanese at the closing ceremony.[6]
1968 Winter Grenoble,
 France
French
1968 Summer Mexico City,
 Mexico
Spanish
1972 Winter Sapporo,
 Japan
Japanese
1972 Summer Munich,
 West Germany
Instrumental An instrumental arrangement was used during the opening and closing ceremonies.[7][8]
1976 Winter Innsbruck,
 Austria
German
1976 Summer Montreal,
 Canada
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.[9]
1980 Winter Lake Placid,
 United States
English
1980 Summer Moscow,
 Soviet Union
Russian (opening)
Greek (closing)
The anthem was sung in Russian at the opening ceremony then in Greek at the closing ceremony.[10]
1984 Winter Sarajevo,
 Yugoslavia
Yugoslavian
1984 Summer Los Angeles,
 United States
English
1988 Winter Calgary,
 Canada
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.[11][12]
1988 Summer Seoul,
 Republic of Korea
Korean
1992 Winter Albertville,
 France
Instrumental The instrumental version of the anthem was played.[13]
1992 Summer Barcelona,
 Spain
Catalan/French (opening)
Spanish (closing)
At the opening ceremony, Alfredo Kraus sang the anthem's first two stanzas in Catalan and the rest of the anthem in Spanish and French.[14] At the closing ceremony, Plácido Domingo sang it entirely in Spanish.[15]
1994 Winter Lillehammer,
 Norway
Norwegian Sung at both the opening (with the Children's chorus) and closing ceremonies by Sissel Kyrkjebø.
1996 Summer Atlanta,
 United States
English Performed at the Opening Ceremony by the 300 voices of the Centennial Olympic Choir with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and at the Closing Ceremony by Jennifer Larmore and the Morehouse College Glee Club with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra.
1998 Winter Nagano,
 Japan
Japanese Performed by the Nagano Festival Orchestra and sung by the Nagano City Children's Chorus Group in Japanese.
2000 Summer Sydney,
 Australia
Greek (opening)
English (closing)
The only Olympics so far in which the anthem was performed in both of the languages preferred by the IOC.[4] At the opening ceremony, performed in Greek by the Millennium Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in recognition of the substantial Greek population of Australia.[16] At closing ceremony, performed in English by Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny..
2002 Winter Salt Lake City,
 United States
English Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Opening Ceremony and by Laura Garff-Lewis at the Closing Ceremony.
2004 Summer Athens,
 Greece
Greek In Greek; sung to the arrangement of John Psathas.[17]
2006 Winter Turin,
 Italy
Instrumental At these Olympics, an abbreviated version was performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies.[18]
2008 Summer Beijing,
 People's Republic of China
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek at both the opening ceremony and closing ceremony.[19]
2010 Winter Vancouver,
 Canada
English and French This was the only Olympics that the anthem was performed in both of the official languages of the Olympics. This was done to reflect the official bilingualism in Canada.[4] Measha Brueggergosman at the opening ceremony and Ben Heppner at the closing ceremony sang the first two, the fourth, and sixth stanzas in English and the remainder in French.[3]
2010 Youth  Singapore Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.
2012 Youth Innsbruck,
 Austria
Instrumental A decision was to made to play the instrumental version of the anthem.
2012 Summer London,
 United Kingdom
Instrumental (opening)
English (closing)
Instrumental version played in the opening ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.[20] Sung in English at the closing ceremony by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Club Choir.[21]
2014 Winter Sochi,
Russia Russian Federation
Russian (opening)
Instrumental (closing)
Sung in Russian in the same translation as in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. It performed by Anna Netrebko with the unidentified choir at the opening ceremony. The Instrumental version which also played at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was used at the closing ceremony.
2014 Youth Nanjing,
 People's Republic of China
Instrumental The Instrumental version played at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was used at both the opening and closing ceremonies.
2016 Youth Lillehammer,
 Norway
2016 Summer Rio de Janeiro,
 Brazil
2018 Winter Pyeongchang,
 Republic of Korea
2018 Youth Buenos Aires,
 Argentina
2020 Summer Tokyo,
 Japan

See also[edit]

References[edit]