Romanian Anthem



Awaken Thee, Romanian!

Awaken thee, Romanian, shake off the deadly slumber
The scourge of inauspicious barbarian tyrannies
And now or never to a bright horizon clamber
That shall to shame put all your nocuous enemies.
It's now or never to the world we readily proclaim
In our veins throbs and ancestry of Roman
And in our hearts for ever we glorify a name
Resounding of battle, the name of gallant Trajan.
Do look imperial shadows, Michael, Stephen, Corvinus
At the Romanian nation, your mighty progeny
With arms like steel and hearts of fire impetuous
It's either free or dead, that's what they all decree.
Priests, rise the cross, this Christian army's liberating
The word is freedom, no less sacred is the end
We'd rather die in battle, in elevated glory
Than live again enslaved on our ancestral land.

The lyrics of the national anthem belong to Andrei Muresan (1816-1863), a Romantic poet, journalist, translator, a genuine tribune of the times marked by the 1848 Revolution. The music was composed by Anton Pann (1796-1854), a poet and ethnographer, a man of great culture, a singer and author of music textbooks.

Andrei Muresan’s poem “Un rasunet”, written and published during the 1848 Revolution, found the adequate music within a few days, as the anthem was sung for the first time on June 29, 1848 at Ramnicu Valcea (in Wallachia the revolution had broken out on June 11). The poem became an anthem under the title “Desteapta-te romane” (“Awaken Thee, Romanian”) and spontaneously earned recognition owing to its energetic and mobilizing message.

Since 1848 “Desteapta-te romane” has been a song dear to the Romanians, giving them courage in the crucial moments, during the Independence War (1877-1878), just as during World War I. In the moments of crisis after August 23, 1944 when, after the state coup, Romania turned against Hitler’s Germany and then participated in the war along with the Allies, this anthem was spontaneously sung by everyone and was aired on the national radio, keeping the whole country on alert.

The same happened on December 22, 1989, at the time of the anti-Communist revolution; the anthem rose from the streets, accompanying huge masses of people, dispelling the fear of death and uniting a whole people in the lofty feelings of the moment. Thus, its institution as a state anthem came by itself, upon the tremendous pressure of the demonstrators.

The message of the anthem “Desteapta-te romane” is social and national at the same time; social because it imposes a permanent state of vigil meant to secure the passing to a new world; national because it gears this awakening to the historical tradition. The anthem proposes that sublime “now or never,” present in all national anthems from the pain with which the Greeks fought at Marathon and Salamina to the French revolutionary Marseillaise. The invocation of the national fate is the peak a people can reach in its soaring towards the divine. This “now or never” historically calls upon all vital energies and mobilizes to the full.

Romania’s national anthem has several stanzas, of which the first four are sung on ceremonial occasions.

Besides this anthem, the Romanians also have “Hora Unirii” (“The Union Dance”), written in 1855 by the great poet Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890) which was sung a lot on the Union of the Principalities (1859) and on all occasions when the Romanians aspired to union and harmony among themselves. “Hora Unirii” is sung on the Romanian folk tune of a slow but energetic round dance joined by the whole attendance. The round dance (hora) is itself an ancient ritual, symbolizing spiritual communion, equality and the Romanians’ wish for a common life.


Download the anthem in WAV or RA form here: 
Real Audio
  or  WAV (900k)

Download the anthem in MIDI form here:
  MIDI Format (7k)

 (Information obtained from the Department for Public Information of the Government of Romania.)

Designed by: Richard Kyle
Copyright ©1999-2001  All rights reserved.
Revised: August 15, 2001

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