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Wikipedia article

"'" (; "Hymn" or "Anthem") is the national anthem of Hungary. The lyrics were written by Ferenc Klcsey, a nationally renowned poet, in 1823, and its currently official musical setting was composed by the romantic composer Ferenc Erkel in 1844, although other less-known musical versions exist. The poem bore the subtitle '"A magyar np zivataros szzadaibl"' ("From the stormy centuries of the Hungarian nation"); it is often argued that this subtitle by emphasising past rather than contemporary national troubles was added expressly to enable the poem to pass Habsburg censorship. The full meaning of the poem's text is evident only to those well acquainted with Hungarian history. The first stanza is sung at official ceremonies and as well in common. It was 'de facto' used as hymn of the Kingdom of Hungary from its composition in 1844, and was officially adopted as national anthem of the Third Hungarian Republic in 1989.

The lyrics of "Himnusz" are a prayer beginning with the words .


The title in the original manuscript is "Hymnus" a Latin word meaning "song of praise", and one which is widely used in languages other than English (e.g., French or German) to mean "anthem". The phonetic transcription "Himnusz" replaced the original Latin spelling over time, and as the poem gained widespread acceptance as the 'de facto' anthem of Hungary, so too the word "himnusz" took on the meaning "national anthem" for other countries as well.


Although Klcsey completed the poem on 22 January 1823, it was only published first in 1829 in Kroly Kisfaludy's 'Aurora', without the subtitle, despite it being part of the manuscript. It subsequently appeared in a collection of Klcsey's works in 1832, this time with the subtitle. A competition for composers to make the poem suitable to be sung by the public was staged in 1844 and won by Erkel's entry. His version was first performed in the National Theatre (where he was conductor) in July 1844, then in front of a larger audience on 10 August 1844, at the inaugural voyage of the steamship Szchenyi. By the end of the 1850s it became customary to sing Himnusz at special occasions either alongside Vrsmarty's Szzat or on its own.

In the early 1900s, various members of the Hungarian Parliament proposed making the status of Himnusz as the national anthem of Hungary within Austria-Hungary official, but their efforts never got enough traction for such a law to be passed. Later, in the 1950s, Rkosi made plans to have the anthem replaced by one more suited to the Communist ideology, but the poet and composer he had in mind for the task, Illys and Kodly, both refused. It wasn't until 1989 that Erkel's musical adaptation of Himnusz finally gained official recognition as Hungary's national anthem, by being mentioned as such in the Constitution of Hungary.

Official uses

The public radio station Kossuth Rdi plays Himnusz at ten minutes past midnight each day at the close of transmissions in the AM band, as do the state TV channels at the end of the day's broadcasts. Himnusz is also traditionally played on Hungarian television at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

Alternative anthems

"Szzat" , which starts with the words (To your homeland be faithful steadfastly, O Hungarian) enjoys a social status nearly equal to that of "Himnusz", even though only "Himnusz" is mentioned in the Constitution of Hungary. Traditionally, Himnusz is sung at the beginning of ceremonies, and Szzat at the end (although the Himnusz, resembling a Protestant Chorale, is substantially easier to sing than the difficult rhythm of the Szzat, which is often only played from recording).

Recognition is also given to the "Rkczi March", a short wordless piece (composer unknown, but sometimes attributed to Jnos Bihari and Franz Liszt) which is often used on state military occasions; and the poem 'Nemzeti dal' written by Sndor Petfi.

Another popular song is the "Szkely Himnusz" , an unofficial ethnic anthem of the Hungarian-speaking Szekler living in Eastern Transylvania, the Szkely Land (now part of Romania) and in the rest of the world.


The first stanza is officially sung at ceremonies.

Two English versions are given below; both are free translations of the Hungarian words. As Hungarian is a genderless language, masculine pronouns in the English translations are in fact addressed to all Hungarians regardless of gender.

Himnusz sculpture

On 7 May 2006, a sculpture was inaugurated for Himnusz at Szarvas Square, Budakeszi, a small town close to Budapest. It was created by Mria V. Majzik, an artist with the Hungarian Heritage Award, depicting the full text of the poem in a circle, centered around a two metres high bronze figure of God, with 21 bronze bells in seven arches between eight pieces of stone, each four and a half metres high. The musical form of the poem can be played on the bells. The cost of its construction, 40 million forints (roughly 200,000 USD), was collected through public subscription.



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