Thursday, June 16, 2011

50th Anniversary of the Swiss National Anthem on Stamp

Until the end of the 19th century, there was no Swiss national anthem. The German-language patriotic song Rufst du, mein Vaterland, composed in 1811 by Johann Rudolf Wyss (1743–1818), was the first national anthem, used until 1961. The Swiss Psalm was composed in 1841 by Alberich Zwyssig (1808–1854), with lyrics by Leonhard Widmer (1809–1867). Since then it has been frequently suggested it be adopted as the official anthem, but the Swiss Federal Government has refused several times, wishing to let the people decide what they want to sing on political and military occasions.

The setting of the hymn to the British tune of God Save the Queen led to embarrassing situations when both countries' anthems were played. Therefore it was replaced with another tune in 1961. After a trial period of three years the Swiss tune was adopted indefinitely in 1965. The statute could not be challenged until ten years later but did not totally exclude the possibility of an ultimate change. A competition was set up in 1979 to search for a successor to the anthem. Despite many submissions, none of the others seemed to express the Swiss sentiment.

The Swiss anthem finally got its definitive statutory status in April 1981, the Federal Council maintaining that it was purely a Swiss song suitably dignified and solemn.

The block of 4 stamps above features the Cross (emblem in Swiss flag) with the titles of the anthem in the official languages issued on 2011, the 50th year anniversary.