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English: Himnusz
Original sheet music for Himnusz.

National anthem of  Hungary
Also known as Isten, áldd meg a Magyart
English: God, bless the Hungarians
A magyar nép zivataros századaiból
English: From the stormy centuries of the Hungarian people
Lyrics Ferenc Kölcsey, 1823
Music Ferenc Erkel
Adopted 1844
Audio sample

"Himnusz" is the official national anthem of Hungary. It was adopted in the 19th century and the first stanza is sung at official ceremonies. The words were written by Ferenc Kölcsey, a nationally renowned poet in 1823, and its currently official musical setting was composed by the romantic composer Ferenc Erkel in 1844, although other less-known musical versions exist. The poem bore the subtitle "A magyar nép zivataros századaiból" ("From the stormy centuries of the Hungarian people"); it is often argued that this subtitle – by emphasising past rather than contemporary national troubles – was added expressly to enable the poem to pass Habsburg censorship. The full meaning of the poem's text is evident only to those well acquainted with Hungarian history.

The lyrics of "Himnusz" are a prayer beginning with the words Isten, áldd meg a magyart (About this sound listen ) ("God, bless the Hungarians").


The title in the original manuscript is "Hymnus" - a Latin word meaning "hymn", and one which had no widely used counterpart in the Hungarian language at the time. The phonetic transcription "Himnusz" replaced the original Latin spelling over time, and as the poem gained widespread acceptance as the de facto anthem of Hungary, so too the word "himnusz" took on the meaning "national anthem". It is only in specialist usage that it is used in its original meaning of "hymn" in Hungarian.


Although Kölcsey completed the poem on 22 January 1823, it was only published first in 1829 in Károly Kisfaludy's Aurora, without the subtitle, despite it being part of the manuscript. It subsequently appeared in a collection of Kölcsey's works in 1832, this time with the subtitle.[1] A competition for composers to make the poem suitable to be sung by the public was staged in 1844 and won by Erkel's entry. His version was first performed in the National Theatre (where he was conductor) in July 1844, then in front of a larger audience on 10 August 1844, at the inaugural voyage of the steamship Széchenyi. By the end of the 1850s it became customary to sing Himnusz at special occasions either alongside Vörösmarty's Szózat or on its own.[1]

In the early 1900s, various members of the Hungarian Parliament proposed making the status of Himnusz as the national anthem of Hungary within Austria-Hungary official, but their efforts never got enough traction for such a law to be passed.[2] Later, in the 1950s, Rákosi made plans to have the anthem replaced by one more suited to the Communist ideology, but the poet and composer he had in mind for the task, Illyés and Kodály, both refused.[3] It wasn't until 1989 that Erkel's musical adaptation of Himnusz finally gained official recognition as Hungary's national anthem, by being mentioned as such in the Constitution of Hungary.[1][2]

Official uses[edit]

The public radio station Kossuth Rádió plays Himnusz at ten minutes past midnight each day at the close of transmissions in the AM band, as do the state TV channels at the end of the day's broadcasts. Himnusz is also traditionally played on Hungarian television at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

Alternate anthems[edit]

"Szózat" (Appeal), which starts with the words Hazádnak rendületlenül légy híve, óh magyar (To your homeland be faithful steadfastly, O Hungarian) enjoys a social status nearly equal to that of "Himnusz", even though only "Himnusz" is mentioned in the Constitution of Hungary. Traditionally, Himnusz is sung at the beginning of ceremonies, and Szózat at the end (although the Himnusz, resembling a Protestant Chorale, is substantially easier to sing than the difficult rhythm of the Szózat, which is often only played from recording).

Recognition is also given to the Rákóczi March, a short wordless piece (composer unknown, but sometimes attributed to János Bihari) which is often used on state military occasions; and the poem Nemzeti dal written by Sándor Petőfi.

Another popular song is the Székely Himnusz (Szekler Anthem), an unofficial national anthem of the Hungarian-speaking Szekler living in Eastern Transylvania, the Székely Land (now part of Romania) and in the rest of the world.


Two English versions are given below; both are free translations of the Hungarian words.

Hungarian Lyrics Literal Translation Poetic Translation
Isten, áldd meg a magyart

Jó kedvvel, bőséggel,

Nyújts feléje védő kart,

Ha küzd ellenséggel;

Bal sors akit régen tép,

Hozz rá víg esztendőt,

Megbűnhődte már e nép

A múltat s jövendőt!

O God, bless the nation of Hungary

With your grace and bounty

Extend over it your guarding arm

During strife with its enemies

Long torn by ill fate

Bring upon it a time of relief

This nation has suffered for all sins

Of the past and of the future!

O, my God, the Magyar bless

With Thy plenty and good cheer!

With Thine aid his just cause press,

Where his foes to fight appear.

Fate, who for so long did’st frown,

Bring him happy times and ways;

Atoning sorrow hath weighed down

Sins of past and future days.

Őseinket felhozád

Kárpát szent bércére,

Általad nyert szép hazát

Bendegúznak vére.

S merre zúgnak habjai

Tiszának, Dunának,

Árpád hős magzatjai


You brought our ancestors up

Over the Carpathians' holy peaks

By You was won a beautiful homeland

For Bendeguz's sons

And wherever flow the rivers of

The Tisza and the Danube

Árpád our hero's descendants

Will root and bloom.

By Thy help our fathers gained

Kárpát’s proud and sacred height;

Here by Thee a home obtained

Heirs of Bendegúz, the knight.

Where’er Danube’s waters flow

And the streams of Tisza swell

Árpád’s children, Thou dost know,

Flourished and did prosper well.

Értünk Kunság mezein

Ért kalászt lengettél,

Tokaj szőlővesszein

Nektárt csepegtettél.

Zászlónk gyakran plántálád

Vad török sáncára,

S nyögte Mátyás bús hadát

Bécsnek büszke vára.

For us on the plains of the Kuns

You ripened the wheat

In the grape fields of Tokaj

You dripped sweet nectar

Our flag you often planted

On the wild Turk's earthworks

And under Mátyás' grave army whimpered

Vienna's "proud fort."

For us let the golden grain

Grow upon the fields of Kún,

And let nectar’s silver rain

Ripen grapes of Tokay soon.

Thou our flags hast planted o’er

Forts where once wild Turks held sway;

Proud Vienna suffered sore

From King Mátyásdark array.

Hajh, de bűneink miatt

Gyúlt harag kebledben,

S elsújtád villámidat

Dörgő fellegedben,

Most rabló mongol nyilát

Zúgattad felettünk,

Majd töröktől rabigát

Vállainkra vettünk.

Ah, but for our sins

Anger gathered in Your bosom

And You struck with Your lightning

From Your thundering clouds

Now the plundering Mongols' arrows

You swarmed over us

Then the Turks' slave yoke

We took upon our shoulders.

But, alas! for our misdeed,

Anger rose within Thy breast,

And Thy lightnings Thou did’st speed

From Thy thundering sky with zest.

Now the Mongol arrow flew

Over our devoted heads;

Or the Turkish yoke we knew,

Which a free-born nation dreads.

Hányszor zengett ajkain

Ozmán vad népének

Vert hadunk csonthalmain

Győzedelmi ének!

Hányszor támadt tenfiad

Szép hazám, kebledre,

S lettél magzatod miatt

Magzatod hamvvedre!

How often came from the mouths

Of Osman's barbarian nation

Over the corpses of our defeated army

A victory song!

How often did your own son agress

My homeland, upon your breast,

And you became because of your own sons

Your own sons' funeral urn!

O, how often has the voice

Sounded of wild Osman’s hordes,

When in songs they did rejoice

O’er our heroes’ captured swords!

Yea, how often rose Thy sons,

My fair land, upon Thy sod,

And Thou gavest to these sons,

Tombs within the breast they trod!

Bújt az üldözött, s felé

Kard nyúlt barlangjában,

Szerte nézett s nem lelé

Honját a hazában,

Bércre hág és völgybe száll,

Bú s kétség mellette,

Vérözön lábainál,

S lángtenger fölette.

The fugitive hid, and towards him

The sword reached into his cave

Looking everywhere he could not find

His home in his homeland

Climbs the mountain, descends the valley

Sadness and despair his companions

Sea of blood beneath his feet

Ocean of flame above.

Though in caves pursued he lie,

Even then he fears attacks.

Coming forth the land to spy,

Even a home he finds he lacks.

Mountain, vale – go where he would,

Grief and sorrow all the same –

Underneath a sea of blood,

While above a sea of flame.

Vár állott, most kőhalom,

Kedv s öröm röpkedtek,

Halálhörgés, siralom

Zajlik már helyettek.

S ah, szabadság nem virúl

A holtnak véréből,

Kínzó rabság könnye hull

Árvák hő szeméből!

Castle stood, now a heap of stones

Happiness and joy fluttered,

Groans of death, weeping

Now sound in their place.

And Ah! Freedom does not bloom

From the blood of the dead,

Torturous slavery's tears fall

From the burning eyes of the orphans!

‘Neath the fort, a ruin now,

Joy and pleasure erst were found,

Only groans and sighs, I trow,

In its limits now abound.

But no freedom’s flowers return

From the spilt blood of the dead,

And the tears of slavery burn,

Which the eyes of orphans shed.

Szánd meg Isten a magyart

Kit vészek hányának,

Nyújts feléje védő kart

Tengerén kínjának.

Bal sors akit régen tép,

Hozz rá víg esztendőt,

Megbűnhődte már e nép

A múltat s jövendőt!

Written by: FERENC KÖLCSEY (1823)

Pity, O Lord, the Hungarians

Who are tossed by waves of danger

Extend over it your guarding arm

On the sea of its misery

Long torn by ill fate

Bring upon it a time of relief

They who have suffered for all sins

Of the past and of the future!

Translated by: LASZLO KOROSSY (2003)[4]

Pity, God, the Magyar, then,

Long by waves of danger tossed;

Help him by Thy strong hand when

He on grief’s sea may be lost.

Fate, who for so long did’st frown,

Bring him happy times and ways;

Atoning sorrow hath weighed down

All the sins of all his days.

Translated by: WILLIAM N. LOEW (1881)

Since Hungarian is a genderless language, references to "the Magyar" as "he" in the English translations are in fact directed to all Hungarians regardless of gender.

Himnusz sculpture[edit]


On May 7, 2006, a sculpture was inaugurated for Himnusz at Szarvas Square, Budakeszi, a small town close to Budapest. It was created by Mária V. Majzik, an artist with the Hungarian Heritage Award, depicting the full text of the poem in a circle, centered around a two metres high bronze figure of God, with 21 bronze bells in seven arches between eight pieces of stone, each four and a half metres high. The musical form of the poem can be played on the bells. The cost of its construction, 40 million forints (roughly 200,000 USD), was collected through public subscription.


  1. ^ a b c "A Himnusz története" [History of Himnusz] (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  2. ^ a b "A Himnusz ügye az Országgyűlés előtt" [The matter of the anthem before Parliament] (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2016-05-17. 
  3. ^ "Betiltották a Himnuszt" [Himnusz banned] (in Hungarian). Retrieved 2016-05-17. 

External links[edit]