Spanish National Anthem

'El Himno Real' Has No Official Lyrics

Spanish Flag
La bandera española. (The Spanish flag.). Kutay Tanir/Getty Images

Spain has long been one of the few countries with no lyrics for its national anthem, known as La marcha real ("The Royal March"). But the Spanish national anthem does have unofficial lyrics, which have been written not only in Spanish, but also in Basque, Catalan, and Galician.

Source of Proposed Anthem Lyrics

Spain's national Olympics committee held a contest in 2007 to come up with suitable lyrics, and the words below are those penned by the winner, a 52-year-old unemployed resident of Madrid, Paulino Cubero. Unfortunately for the Olympics committee, the lyrics immediately became the subject or criticism and even ridicule by political and cultural leaders. Within a few days of the lyrics becoming known it became clear that they would never be endorsed by the Spanish parliament, so the Olympics panel said it would withdraw the winning words. They were criticized, among other things, for being banal and too reminiscent of the Franco regime.

Lyrics to La Marcha Real

¡Viva España!
Cantemos todos juntos
con distinta voz
y un solo corazón.
¡Viva España!
Desde los verdes valles
al inmenso mar,
un himno de hermandad.
Ama a la Patria
pues sabe abrazar,
bajo su cielo azul,
pueblos en libertad.
Gloria a los hijos
que a la Historia dan
justicia y grandeza
democracia y paz.

La Marcha Real in English

Long live Spain!
Let us all sing together
with a distinctive voice
and one heart.
Long live Spain!
From the green valleys
to the immense sea
a hymn of brotherhood.
Love the Fatherland
for it knows to embrace,
under its blue sky,
peoples in freedom.
Glory to the sons and daughters
who give to History
justice and greatness,
democracy and peace.

Translation Notes

Note that the title of the Spanish national anthem, La marcha real, is written with only the first word capitalized. In Spanish, as in many other languages such as French, it is customary to capitalize only the first word of composition titles unless one of the other words is a proper noun.

Viva, often translated as "long live," comes from the verb vivir, meaning "to live." Vivir is often used as a pattern for conjugating regular -ir verbs.

Cantemos, translated here as "let us sing," is an example of the imperative mood in the first-person plural. The verb endings of -emos for -ar verbs and -amos for -er and -ir verbs are used as the equivalent of the English "let us + verb."

Corazón is the word for the heart. Like the English word, corazón can be used figuratively to refer to the seat of emotions. Corazón comes from the same Latin source as English words such as "coronary" and "crown."

Patria and Historia are capitalized in this hymn because they are personified, treated as figurative persons. This also explains why the personal a is used with both words.

Note how the adjectives come before the nouns in the phrases verdes valles (green valleys) and inmenso mar (deep sea). This word order provides an emotional or poetical component to the adjectives in a way that isn't readily translatable to English. You might think of "verdant" rather than "green," for example, and "fathomless" rather than "deep."

Pueblo is a collective noun used in much the same way as its English cognate, "people." In the singular form, it refers to multiple persons. But when it becomes plural, it refers to groups of people.

Hijo is the word for son, and hija is the word for daughter. However, the masculine plural form, hijos, is used when referring to sons and daughters together.

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Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish National Anthem." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Erichsen, Gerald. (2020, August 27). Spanish National Anthem. Retrieved from Erichsen, Gerald. "Spanish National Anthem." ThoughtCo. (accessed May 29, 2023).