• Switzerland's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Public select potential Swiss national anthem

Caroline Bishop · 14 Sep 2015, 10:06

Published: 14 Sep 2015 10:06 GMT+02:00

The winning song – whose English translation is ‘Hoisted up there in the wind, our red and white flag’ – was composed by Werner Widmer from Zollikerberg, in the canton of Zurich.

It triumphed over two other finalists in an online vote whose outcome was announced on Saturday during SRF television show Potzmusig.

The final three were performed live by choirs as part of a national music festival in Aarau, in the canton of Aargau.

The result concludes the competition that was launched at the beginning of last year by the Swiss Society for Public Welfare, who wished to replace the current national anthem, known as the Swiss Psalm, which is often criticized for its overly religious lyrics.

The contest drew over 200 submissions, whittled down by a jury to a final seven, which were translated into all four national languages and recorded by a choir.

The public then voted online to choose the final three tunes, before the winner was selected by a further online vote.

Under the rules of the competition, lyricists were required to take inspiration from the preamble to Switzerland's updated constitution — approved by the public in a 1999 referendum — which refers to freedom, democracy, solidarity, openness to the world and responsibility towards future generations.

As for the tune, many of the entries – including the winning composition – drew on the melody of the current anthem which, unlike its lyrics, is considered beautiful.

Composed by Alberik Zwyssig back in 1841, the so-called Swiss Psalm is likened by critics to a weather forecast crossed with a religious hymn, given its repeated references to God and alpine vistas.

The song has only been the country's official anthem since 1981, when it replaced another anthem set, rather confusingly, to the tune of Britain's God Save The Queen.

Speaking to AFP when the competition was launched, Pierre Kohler, president of the jury, said of the current anthem: "Nobody knows the words! Anyone who tells you they do is a liar. Or else we manage the first few and afterwards we go 'la, la, la'."

"We don't take issue with the tune, which is quite beautiful," said Jean-Daniel Gerber, chairman of the Swiss Society for Public Welfare.

Story continues below…

"The problem is the lyrics. The author had in mind a psalm, not a national anthem. As a psalm, you have to admit that it's very good. We have no qualms with it as a psalm, just as an anthem."

Although Werner Widmer’s new composition has the public’s support, it will ultimately be up to the federal government to decide if it should replace the Swiss Psalm as the new Swiss national anthem – or indeed if Switzerland needs a new anthem at all.

Watch the winning entry performed here.

For more news from Switzerland, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Caroline Bishop (news@thelocal.ch)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Man arrested in forest murder case
A walker found the woman's body in the forest. File photo: Patrick Nouhailler

Police arrest an illegal immigrant over the killing of a woman in the canton of Bern last week.

Terror fears trigger Swiss run on guns
More people want to own a gun. Photo: kecko.jpg

Applications for gun licences soar in Switzerland amid growing insecurity.

Mountain biker survives icy plunge into the Rhine
The rescue services managed to winch the man to safety. Photo: Graubünden police

A Swiss mountain biker had a lucky escape after toppling into the Rhine river.

No blanket IOC doping ban for Russian athletes
The IOC ruled that 800m runner Yuliya Stepanova, who turned whistleblower on doping in Russian athletics, could not go to Rio even as a neutral. Photo: AFP

At a meeting in Lausanne on Sunday, the International Olympic Committee on Sunday ordered individual sports federations to decide whether Russian competitors should take part in the Rio Games after failing to agree on a complete ban over Russia's state-run doping.

Van Gogh, Monet paintings seized in Malaysia graft probe
The works were seized following a request from the United States, one of several countries probing alleged massive fraud at the Malaysian state fund 1MDB. Photo: AFP

Switzerland has seized a painting by Vincent Van Gogh and two others by Claude Monet as part of the global investigation into Malaysia's scandal-tainted sovereign wealth fund, an official said on Friday.

IOC reports more doping failures pre-Rio
President Thomas Bach said the retesting showed the IOC's commitment to fight doping. Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP

The International Olympic Committee reports 45 new doping failures from Beijing 2008 and London 2012.

Swiss pilots: don’t hunt Pokémon from the air
Pokemon hunting has become a world-wide craze. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP

The Swiss civil aviation office hears reports of people playing the popular new game from helicopters.

‘Nelson’ the black swan found dead in Montreux
File photo: Noel Reynolds

The non-native swan caused a media storm earlier this month.

Zurich school threatened over links to Erdogan opponent
File photo: Aris Messini/AFP

School targeted over claims it is associated with Fethullah Gulen.

Violent storms hit Switzerland as planet heats up (again)
File photo: Benjamin Benson

Globally, June 2016 was the hottest month on record.

Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Grand Tours Project
Features
Why you should get on your bike in Switzerland
Photo: The Local
Society
Swiss village tells landlords: don’t rent homes to refugees
Photo: Rolf Krahl/Christophe G
International
Survey: world willing to pay more for ‘Swissness’
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
Photo: The Local
International
Chaos in Como after Swiss send back refugees
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: AFP/The Local
Lifestyle
Nine top celebrity hotspots in Switzerland
Photo: Graubunden police
National
World-class Swiss climber Norbert Joos dies on ‘home mountain’
Photo: Kathleen Waters
Society
Italian ‘ignored’ by Swiss schools in language wars
Sponsored Article
Five things Americans should know about voting abroad
Photo: Whitepod
Features
The quirkiest places to stay in Switzerland
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
International
Migrant busted trying to sneak into Switzerland in a suitcase
Photo: Jonathan Kos-Read
National
Basel suffers wettest six months for 150 years
Photo: Georges Gobet/AFP
Technology
Why Swiss science could suffer badly from Brexit fallout
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Photo: Robert Valencia
International
Swiss couple in Nicaragua told to give back adopted daughter
Photo: Zurich cantonal police
National
Police hunt prisoner on the run in Zurich murder case
Photo: Christoph G
Politics
Switzerland sets out law on expelling foreign criminals
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Photo: Bernacqua
Lifestyle
Drone shocks nudists at Swiss waterpark
Photo: Basel Justice and Security Dept
Lifestyle
New signs lay down law and order for Basel prostitutes
Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Photo: Daniel Orth
Education
Muslim school kids denied passport for refusing swimming lessons
Photo: Emmanuel Dunand/AFP
Politics
Swiss-EU talks ‘must’ resume this summer, says President
Sponsored Article
Why expats choose international health insurance
File photo: Kochtopf
National
Anger as Swiss council plans non-pork school lunches
File photo: Jen/Flickr
Society
Geneva could get 'café fellatio' by end of year
Features
How Switzerland's scenery inspired some of the world's greatest authors
4,571
jobs available