Swiss asked to ditch God from national anthem

Thu, 8 Aug 2013

Switzerland is holding a competition to rewrite its national anthem because it currently focuses on God.

Over £7,000 is being offered as a prize for rewriting the song, which is called the Swiss Psalm.

The man in charge of the competition claims Swiss society is “religiously neutral”, but in a 2010 census two thirds identified themselves as belonging to a church.

Prayer

Competitors are asked to include values from the Swiss constitution such as democracy and solidarity, and the tune could also be revised.

But Lukas Niederberger, who is in charge of the competition, told the BBC: “The real problem is above all the text.”

“Officially the anthem is a psalm, a prayer, but of course we have an open society, religiously neutral.

Atheists

“We have atheists, no single god, so this anthem is a difficulty”.

He also said: “Many people are conservative and the anthem is emotional, but if a composer creates a super song, then we can change the tune too.

“But that’s a bit difficult for conservative people, so we say the contestants don’t have to change the music”, he said.

Surrender

One verse of the current anthem, which dates back to the 1800s and was officially adopted in 1981, reads: “When the morning skies grow red / And o’er their radiance shed / Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light.

“When the Alps glow bright with splendour, Pray to God, to Him surrender,

“For you feel and understand, For you feel and understand / That he dwelleth in this land. That he dwelleth in this land.”

No religion

The winner will be decided by a 25-member judging panel which includes people from the literature, sport and yodelling communities.

The competition will begin in January next year and run for six months. The prize – of 10,000 Swiss Francs – will be awarded in 2015.

According to the 2010 census, as well as those who identified as religious, 20 per cent said they had no religion.

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