Lyrics and history of the Olympic anthem

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Although the Olympic Games feature all kinds of music, there is at least one piece you will hear at every Opening and Closing Ceremony when the Olympic flag is raised or lowered: the Olympic anthemalso known as Olympic anthem. This Olympic anthem is traditionally used to represent the IOC Refugee Olympic Team.

Who wrote the Olympic anthem and when?


The anthem, also known as Olympic anthem, was composed by Greek opera composer Spyridon Samaras (born 1861 in Corfu) and features an original libretto by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. The couple were commissioned to write the anthem for the first modern Olympic Games, which were held in Athens in 1896. However, it was not officially adopted by the International Olympic Committee as the official anthem of the Olympic movement until 1958. .

Why does the Refugee Olympic Team use this Olympic anthem?


Since the participating refugee athletes do not have a specific national identity, they are represented by the Olympic flag and the Olympic anthem. This has caused some controversy, however, for refugee activists. A bespoke flag was designed and a new anthem composed (by Syrian refugee composer Moutaz Arian) when the team first competed in Rio in 2016, but their efforts have not been officially recognized by the IOC. So, for now, the team continues to be represented by the Olympic flag and anthem.

What are the words of the Olympic anthem in English?

Immortal Olympian Flame

Whose lighthouse lights our way

Burn our hearts with the fires of hope

On this memorable day

Like now we cross the world

To share these Games of yesteryear

That all the flags of each country

In brotherhood unfold

Sing every nation, loud voices

Rise in Harmony

Salute to our brave Olympians

With strains of victory

The Olympic light burns again and again

O’er seas and mountains and plains

Unite, Inspire, Honor

To these ascending games

Let valor reign victorious

Along the path of the golden way

As the new champions of tomorrow show up now

Rise to the fervent spirit of the game

Let splendor permeate every noble deed

Crowned with glory and fame

And that brotherhood and camaraderie

Surround the soul of every nation

Oh eternal flame in your firmament so bright

Illuminate us with your eternal light

This grace, this beauty and this magnificence

shine like the sun

Blazing above

Grant us your honor, your truth and your love

What else did Spyridon Samaras compose?


Samaras was one of the most acclaimed Greek composers of the mid-19th century and is otherwise best known as an opera composer. Although Greek, he spent a few years studying in Paris (with Delibes and Gounod, among others) and then headed for Italy, where he wrote among other things Medge, Martyrdom and flora mirabilis. He continued to write after returning to Athens in the early 20th century; his last opera was Tiger. He also wrote piano music.

Aren’t there other “Olympic anthems”?


Yes there are a few, including two written in the 1930s by composers Richard Strauss (for the 1936 Berlin Olympics) and Walter Bradley-Keeler (for the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics). Leonard Bernstein wrote his Olympic anthem for the 1981 International Olympic Congress.

Do you have Olympic fever? Find the lyrics to some of the different national anthems here and get ready to sing them with a bang

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