Anytime the National Anthem of Mexico is sung or played, dramatic visions run through my mind, like an entourage of images, wars won, victories, congratulatory speeches and people celebrating in praise.
Hearing it always brings back fond memories of when I lived in San Diego in the late 90’s. The radio station I listened to at the time, had leased their airtime from Tijuana, so every night at 12:00 midnight, I would hear the Mexican National Anthem play. It always reminded me that Mexico was very patriotic and took great pride in playing their national anthem.
I still feel the same excitement today every time I hear it played or sung. I see people who take great pride in their country. But aside from being familiar with the melody, I never really knew the words to Mexico’s national anthem or the history behind it, until now.
Here are a few bullet points to help understand its history:
- On November 12, 1853, President Antonio López de Santa Anna announced a competition to write a national anthem for Mexico
- The competition offered a prize for the best poetic composition representing patriotic ideals
- Francisco González Bocanegra, a talented poet, submitted the poem in 1853 and won the competition by unanimous vote (it was said that originally, he was not interested in participating but was strongly encouraged by his fiancé)
- A musical composition was chosen at the same time as the lyrics
- Although the winner was Juan Bottesini, his entry was disliked due to aesthetics and the rejection prompted a second national contest to find music for the lyrics
- At the end of the second contest, the music that was chosen for González’s lyrics was composed by Jaime Nunó, a Spanish-born band leader
- The lyrics allude to Mexican victories in the heat of battle, defeating invading armies and cries of defending the homeland and include ten stanzas and a chorus
- The National Anthem of Mexico or Himno Nacional Mexicano also known as “Mexicanos, al grito de guerra” (Mexicans, at the cry of war) was officially entered into use on Independence Day, September 16, 1854 and officially adopted by law in 1943
- The inaugural performance was directed by Juan Bottesini, sung by soprano Claudia Florenti and tenor Lorenzo Salvi at the Santa Anna Theatre (now known as the National Theatre of Mexico)
Basics of Mexico’s Independence
- On September 16, 1810, Miguel Hidalgo, a Mexican priest and leader of the Mexican War of Independence declared independence from the Spanish crown, and war against the government in what was known as the Grito de Dolores
- The Grito de Dolores (“Cry of Dolores”) also known as El Grito de la Independencia (“Cry of Independence”), uttered from the small town of Dolores, near Guanajuato on September 16, 1810
- This event that marked the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is the most important national holiday observed in Mexico
Here are the lyrics in Spanish and English:
|Coro:Mexicanos, al grito de guerra el acero aprestad y el bridón. Y retiemble en sus centros la Tierra, al sonoro rugir del cañón. Y retiemble en sus centros la Tierra, al sonoro rugir del cañón!||Chorus:Mexicans, at the cry of war, make ready the steel and the bridle, and may the Earth tremble at its centers at the resounding roar of the cannon. and may the Earth tremble at its centers at the resounding roar of the cannon!|
|Estrofa I:Ciña ¡oh Patria! tus sienes de oliva de la paz el arcángel divino, que en el cielo tu eterno destino por el dedo de Dios se escribió. Mas si osare un extraño enemigo profanar con su planta tu suelo, piensa ¡oh Patria querida! que el cielo un soldado en cada hijo te dio.||First Stanza:Let gird, oh Fatherland!, your brow with olive by the divine archangel of peace, for in heaven your eternal destiny was written by the finger of God. But if some enemy outlander should dare to profane your ground with his sole, think, oh beloved Fatherland!, that heaven has given you a soldier in every son.|
|Estrofa V:¡Guerra, guerra sin tregua al que intente De la patria manchar los blasones! ¡Guerra, guerra! Los patrios pendones En las olas de sangre empapad. ¡Guerra, guerra! En el monte, en el valle Los cañones unísonos truenen, Y los ecos sonoros resuenen Con las voces de ¡Unión! ¡Libertad!||Stanza V:War, war without quarter to any who dare to tarnish the coats of arms of the country! War, war! Let the national banners be soaked in waves of blood. War, war! In the mountain, in the valley, let the cannons thunder in horrid unison and may the sonorous echoes resound with cries of Union! Liberty!|
|Estrofa VI:Antes, patria, que inermes tus hijos Bajo el yugo su cuello dobleguen, Tus campiñas con sangre se rieguen, Sobre sangre se estampe su pie. Y tus templos, palacios y torres Se derrumben con hórrido estruendo, Y sus ruinas existan diciendo: De mil héroes la patria aquí fue.||Stanza VI:O, Fatherland, ere your children, defenseless bend their neck beneath the yoke, may your fields be watered with blood, may their foot be printed in blood. And may your temples, palaces and towers collapse with horrid clamor, and may their ruins continue on, saying: Of one thousand heroes, here the Fatherland began.|
|Estrofa X:¡Patria! ¡Patria! Tus hijos te juran Exhalar en tus aras su aliento, Si el clarín con su bélico acento los convoca a lidiar con valor. ¡Para ti las guirnaldas de oliva! ¡Un recuerdo para ellos de gloria! ¡Un laurel para ti de victoria! ¡Un sepulcro para ellos de honor!||Stanza X:Fatherland! Fatherland! your children swear to you to breathe their last for your sake, if the bugle with its bellicose accent calls them together to battle with courage. For you, olive wreathes! A memory for them of glory! For you, a laurel of victory! A tomb for them of honor!|