Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Olympics: Brief History of the Modern Games - The Olympic Anthem

The Olympic anthem began as a poem written in 1893 by the Greek poet, Kostas Palamas (1859-1943). The poem "Ancient Immortal Spirit" touched so many hearts and represented so well the Olympic ideal that a decision was made to adopt it as the official anthem of the Olympic games.

"Ancient Immortal Spirit"
Ancient Immortal Spirit, chaste Father
of all that is Beauty, Grandeur, and Truth,
Descending, appear with Thy presence
Illuminate Thine Earth and the Heavens.

Shine upon noble endeavors wrought
at the Games on the Track and in the Field.
Crown with Thy eternal evergreen branch
The bodies, making them stronger and worthy.

Dale, Mount, and Ocean, with Thy Light
as a white and purple temple, brighten!
To Thine Temple, to Thy worship, come all.
O Ancient Eternal Spirit!

Demetrius Vikelas, a Greek Pro-European and the first President of the International Olympic Committee chose Spiros Samaras (1853-1917) to compose the music. It was during the 1896 Olympic Games held in Athens when the Olympic Hymn was first played.

Throughout the years, many different versions were played and sung at the Olympics. Hosting nations commissioned various musicians to compose an Olympic hymn for their own games.

In 1932, Richard Strauss composed an Olympic anthem for the German Games and Robert Lubahn wrote the lyrics to the Olympsiche Hymne.

In 1958, the International Olympic Committee declared "Ancient Immortal Spirit" as the official Olympic Anthem and since 1960, it has been used at the Opening Ceremonies of each Olympic Games. It is sung when the flag is raised and lowered.

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 imperishable fame.
Give life and animation to those noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in strife!

Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore Thee,
O immortal Spirit of antiquity.

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