What are the lyrics to Sweden’s national anthem?

20 July 2023, 15:47

Does Sweden have a national anthem, and what are the lyrics to the country’s song?
Does Sweden have a national anthem, and what are the lyrics to the country’s song? Picture: Getty / IMSLP
Classic FM

By Classic FM

‘Du gamla, du fria’ has been Sweden’s unofficial national anthem since 1938, when the country’s public radio company started playing it at the end of every day’s programming.

Sweden is one of the few countries without its own official national anthem. But ‘Du gamla, du fria’, meaning ‘Thou ancient, Thou free’ in English, has taken on the stature of a national song, and is heard at most major events for the country.

It first gained popularity at the end of the 1800s, when King Oscar II rose in honour when it was played, bolstering its standing as an official song.

More than a century later, in 1938, Sweden’s public service radio company Sveriges Radio started featuring it at the end of the night once the day’s programming had ended, a tradition which led to the song gaining de facto national anthem status.

Read more: What are the lyrics to the German national anthem, and did they change after World War II?

National Anthem of Sweden | Du Gamla Du Fria

Who composed Sweden’s national anthem?

The original lyrics for ‘Du gamla, du fria’ were penned by Swedish lyricist Richard Dybeck in 1844, and set to a variation of the melody from the old Swedish ballad ‘Kärestans död’.

In the year 2000, Sweden’s governing body, the Riksdag, turned down a proposal to give Dybeck’s anthem official status, deeming it “unnecessary” as the people had already established it as the country’s national song.

For the committee, letting the people rather than the political system decide on the national anthem felt like the right approach.


What are the lyrics to Sweden’s national anthem?

Du gamla, Du fria, Du fjällhöga nord
Du tysta, Du glädjerika sköna!
Jag hälsar Dig, vänaste land uppå jord,
Din sol, Din himmel, Dina ängder gröna.

Du tronar på minnen från fornstora dar,
då ärat Ditt namn flög över jorden.
Jag vet att Du är och förblir vad du var.
Ja, jag vill leva jag vill dö i Norden.

What are the lyrics to Sweden’s national anthem in English?

Thou ancient, Thou free, Thou mountainous north
Thou quiet, Thou joyful [and] fair!
I greet thee, loveliest land upon earth,
Thy sun, Thy sky, Thy climes green.

Thou thronest on memories of great olden days,
When honoured Thy name flew across the earth,
I know that Thou art and wilt remain what thou werest,
Yes, I want to live, I want to die in the North.