Next to the actual moment of victory, one of the most inspiring scenes at any Olympics has to be the sight of a gold-medal athlete on the winner’s podium, watching and often singing their nation’s anthem as the flag of their respective country is hoisted high in celebration.
Only the instrumental score of each song is played, so unless you’re familiar with the lyrics or can read lips, you wouldn’t know what was actually being sung.
Naturally, anthems are nationalistic in nature. Those in Great Britain proudly sing, “God save our gracious Queen, Long live our noble Queen, God save The Queen!” The Irish belt out, “Tonight we man the gap of danger, In Erin’s cause, come woe or weal, ‘Mid cannons’ roar and rifles peal, We’ll chant a soldier’s song!”
Some anthems are a bit stronger in tone. Take Algeria, whose song harkens back to an old rivalry and reflects unresolved animosity between nations:
“When we spoke, none listened to us, So we have taken the noise of gunpowder as our rhythm, And the sound of machine guns as our melody…O France, this is the day of reckoning!”
North Vietnam’s anthem is likewise militaristic in nature. “For too long we have swallowed our hatred,” they sing. “Be ready for all sacrifices and life will be radiant.”
In contrast, the Canadian anthem is entirely positive and points with gratitude and allegiance to God:
O Canada, our home and native land, true patriot love in all thy sons command. With glowing hearts we see Thee rise, the True North strong and free! From far and wide, O Canada, we stand on guard for thee. God keep our land glorious and free! O Canada we stand on guard for thee.
A favorite verse of Christians in the Star Spangled Banner is one that‘s rarely sung, but should be:
O thus be it ever, when freemen shall stand, Between their loved home and the war’s desolation. Blest with vict’ry and peace, may the Heav’n rescued land. Praise the Power that hath made and preserved us a nation! Then conquer we must, when our cause it is just, and this be our motto, ‘ In God is Our Trust.‘ And the star-spangled banner in triumph shall wave o’er the land of the free and the home of the brave!
It’s fun to cheer on our Olympians, especially when they sing our nation’s anthem. But if you ask me, it’s also inspiring to hear from some of the athletes after they compete, especially the gold medal gymnast, Gabby Douglas, who summed up her Olympic experience a few nights ago:
It is everything I thought it would be; being the Olympic champion, it definitely is an amazing feeling. And I give all the glory to God. It’s kind of a win-win situation. The glory goes up to him and the blessings fall down on me.