Du gamla, du fria

"Du gamla, du fria" (Swedish pronunciation: [dʉː ˇɡamːla dʉː ˇfriːa], English: "Thou ancient, Thou free") is the de facto national anthem of Sweden. It was originally named "Sång till Norden" (pronounced [ˈsɔŋː tɪl ˈnuːɖɛn], "Song to the North"), but the incipit has since been adopted as the title.

Du gamla, du fria
English: Thou ancient, Thou free

National anthem of  Sweden
Also known as"Sång till Norden" (English: "Song to the North")
LyricsRichard Dybeck, 1844
MusicOld Swedish folk music[1] (arranged for orchestra by Edvin Kallstenius, 1933)[2]
Audio sample
"Du gamla, du fria" (instrumental)
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National anthem"Du gamla, du fria" (de facto)


Although the Swedish constitution makes no mention of a national anthem, "Du gamla, du fria" enjoys universal recognition and is used, for example, at government ceremonies as well as sporting events. It first began to win recognition as a patriotic song in the 1890s, and the issue of its status was debated back and forth up until the 1930s. In 1938, the Swedish public service radio company Sveriges Radio started playing it in the evenings at the end of transmission, which marked the beginning of the de facto status as national anthem the song has had since.[3]

Despite the belief that it was adopted as the national anthem in 1866, no such recognition has ever been officially accorded. A kind of official recognition came in 1893, when King Oscar II rose in honor when the song was played. In 2000 a Riksdag committee rejected as "unnecessary" a proposal to give the song official status. The committee concluded that the song has been established as the national anthem by the people, not by the political system, and that it is preferable to keep it that way.

The original lyrics were written by Richard Dybeck in 1844, to the melody of a variant of the ballad Kärestans död. The ballad type is classified as D 280 in The Types of the Scandinavian Medieval Ballad; the variant from Västmanland that Dybeck reproduced is classified as SMB 133 G.[4] It was recorded by Rosa Wretman in the beginning of the 1840s. Dybeck published the traditional text in Folk-lore I, and the melody in 1845 in his Runa, where he also published his new text "Sång till Norden" (English: "Song to/of the North").

Dybeck himself originally wrote the beginning as "Du gamla, du friska" (English: "Thou ancient, Thou hale"), but in the late 1850s changed the lyrics to "Du gamla, du fria" (English: "Thou ancient, Thou free"). The song was already published in several song books and sung with "Du gamla, du friska", but a priest who had known Dybeck took the opportunity to inform the singer most associated with the song, opera singer Carl Fredrik Lundqvist, about the change in the year 1900. From that point on, printings of the "friska" version ceased to be seen in song books, but a recording from 1905 where it is sung with "friska" still exists.[5] The Swedish composer Edvin Kallstenius made an orchestral arrangement of the national anthem in 1933.[2]

By the early 20th century, many regarded the song unsuitable as a national anthem. From the 1890s it was included in the "patriotic songs" section of song books, but up to the 1920s it was occasionally published just as "folk music". In 1899 a contest to produce a national anthem was held. It led to Verner von Heidenstam writing "Sverige", but did not lead to a new national anthem.

Patriotic sentiment is notably absent from the text of the original two verses, due to them being written in the spirit of Scandinavism popular at the time (Norden in general refers to the Nordic countries in Swedish, Norwegian and Danish). After the song started to acquire its informal status as the national anthem, various people wrote additional verses to increase the "Swedishness" of the song. The aforementioned Lundqvist wrote his own third verse beginning with "Jag älskar dig Sverige" (I love thee, Sweden), Frans Österblom wrote four verses beginning with "Jag älskar min hembygd" ("I love my native area") and Louise Ahlén wrote two verses in 1910, which are presented as the last two verses in the lyrics section below.



Swedish Literal translation

Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
𝄆 Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna. 𝄇

You ancient, you free, you mountainous north
You quiet, you joyful beauty!
I greet you, loveliest land upon Earth,
𝄆 Your sun, your sky, your green meadows. 𝄇

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora da'r,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och Du blir vad Du var.
𝄆 Ja, jag vill leva, jag vill dö i Norden. 𝄇

You are enthroned on memories of great olden days,
When honoured your name flew across the Earth,
I know that you are and remain what you were,
𝄆 Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the North. 𝄇

Jag städs vill dig tjäna, mitt älskade land,
dig trohet till döden vill jag svära.
Din rätt skall jag värna med håg och med hand,
𝄆 din fana, högt den bragderika bära. 𝄇
I forever want to serve you, my beloved land,
fidelity until death I want to swear to you.
Your right I shall defend with mind and with hand,
𝄆 the glorious ones carry your banner high. 𝄇
Med Gud skall jag kämpa för hem och för härd
för Sverige, den kära fosterjorden.
Jag byter Dig ej, mot allt i denna värld
𝄆 Nej, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden. 𝄇
With God I shall fight for home and for hearth,
for Sweden, the beloved mother soil.
Exchange you, I won't for anything in this world
𝄆 No, I want live, I want to die in the North 𝄇

See also


  1. Eva Danielson; Märta Ramsten. "Du gamla, du friska – från folkvisa till nationalsång". musikverket.se (in Swedish). Svenskt visarkiv / Musikverket. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  2. Holm, Anna Lena (August 1991). "Edvin Kallstenius". musikverket.se (in Swedish). Musik- och teaterbiblioteket / Musikverket. Archived from the original on 20 October 2017. Retrieved 3 June 2017.
  3. "Sweden: Du gamla, Du fria". NationalAnthems.me. Retrieved 2011-08-08.
  4. Sveriges Medeltida Ballader, Vol. 4:1, pp. 16-17
  5. Collections., University of California, Santa Barbara. Library. Department of Special (2005-11-16). "Cylinder Preservation and Digitization Project". cylinders.library.ucsb.edu. Retrieved 2017-06-03.
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