Saturday, 3 July 2010


Here (thanks to John Paul Sonnen) is the modern Anthem of the Vatican City:

And here, thanks to a commenter on his post, is the anthem that preceded it (1857-1949). It sounds a bit like a Sullivan overture, but I sneakingly prefer it, I think.


william said...

I never really thought of the Vatican as having a national anthem (unless it be something like "Full from the panting heart …"). When would it be played? Before an international match involving "The Cardinals" (with apologies to any Missourians reading)?

Oh, and what text (if any) is there to either anthem? I couldn't get the Italian text which accompanies the clip of the current version to fit the music, and there's no text at all to the earlier one (are you quite sure, by the way, that it isn't by Sullivan?) Surely the pre-1949 version must have been in Latin?

pelerin said...

William asks when the Vatican Anthem would be played.

According to 'National Anthems of the World' edited by Martin Shaw and Henry Coleman (1960) it is played

1) In the presence of the Holy Father
2) In the presence of one of his Special Legates and
3) On the occasion of the presentation of Credential Letters by a Nuncio of the Holy See.

Strangely this first edition gave no words and in fact 'no words' is stated over the music to the anthem, whereas the eleventh edition of 2006 has words in Latin to Charles Gounod's music. It states the words were written by Raffaello Lavagna b. 1918

The two editions also differ on when this anthem became the official one - 1949 according to the first edition but 1950 according to the latest.

Anonymous said...

I entirely agree, the second, older, version is best. I hope against hope that it will be played during the forthcoming papal visit.

pelerin said...

I have to disagree with both Fr. Finnegan and Anonymous as I very much prefer the modern anthem.

The old one sounds too lighthearted and even Fr Finnegan admits to it sounding 'a bit like a Sullivan overture' (presumably as in G & S?) whereas the modern one, IMHO, is stately and dignified. I am not surprised a new one was brought in whether it was in 1949 or 1950!

Anonymous said...

Come on, Pelerin, how can you, as a Catholic, be so earnest? The older anthem speaks loud and clear of the c19 Italian musical traditions of Blessed Pope Pius IX and entertainingly puts its fingers to the papal nose at the Risorgimento and its consequences. It dates from the days when public Catholicism was fun and the Italian aura pervaded the entire Church, to its advantage. Can't you imagine Fr Faber humming it in the corridors of Brompton, or listening to it played on the piano by Fr Dalgairns at the Oratorian villa house in Sydenham? Perhaps not?

The current version emanated from different times and different mores and is emblematic of the supremacist ideals of Pope Pius XII at a low point in c20 history. It was hard to laugh at Communism in those days but I wish the anthem had not adopted an almost Soviet level of imperial bombast, redolent of Red Square.

I have little doubt that if the first version was played during the Holy Father's forthcoming state visit, the crowds would break out into smiles and everybody would feel better. Lighten up, dear.

pelerin said...

Sorry Anon - can't we agree to differ? We all have different musical tastes. I still think a National Anthem should be dignified and not cause people to 'break out into smiles' surely?

I was privileged to see the first and second editions of the book being worked on and put together. The idea was to produce arrangements of each anthem so that they could be played by the average band at international events such as the Olympics. Many of them are indeed bombastic but I would not put the Vatican anthem into this category and would not wish to be reminded of the Pirates of Penzance or the three little maids from school during the Holy Father's visit! There seem to be enough problems surrounding the visit already without the possibility of playing the 'wrong' anthem!!

pelerin said...

Anon - You may be pleased to learn that I am lightened up now having just read the parodies on G & S on Fr Z!

Surrey Highlander said...

Details (for Italian speakers, anyway) can be found on the Holy See's website:

Anonymous said...

The anthem is also played at the Christmas and Easter "Urbi et Orbi" Blessings as well as at a new Pope's first appearance on the balcny to greet the crowd. It is part of the "honors" played by the bands of the military contigents of both the Vatican City State and the Italisn Republic.
The "older" one was in fact written by an Austrian, I think. ;-)

Anonymous said...

I can't thank you enough for posting these versions of the Vatican National Anthem. I still prefer the earlier one, so much so that I play it every morning when I get up. It puts a smile on my face and helps me to face the day with some zip.

Did you know that there are other versions of the anthem on Youtube, some with triangle effects? I hope against hope that it will be played during the Holy Father's visit. After all, it is a state occasion and presumably the band of the Grenadier Guards will be on hand to play both national anthems?