Friday, April 15, 2011

50 Years of Swiss National Anthem celebrated on Miniature Sheet

The Swiss Post Office will release on May 5, 2011 a miniature sheet composed of 4 stamps ( 2 X 2 format) honoring the National Anthem. The 4 color offset printed sheet measures 105 X 70 mm while the individual stamps have a size of 47 X 30.5 mm. The stamps are based on photos by Irene Elber of Zurich and were adpated by Emanuel Hengartner of Uster. Each stamp has a value of .25 Swiss Francs. Their is on stamp for each of the four languagues of Switzerland, German, Swiss, Italian and Romanche. A special feature of the stamps is that if you subject the stamp(s) to a UV light source the first verse of the Swiss National Anthem will become visable.

The following article was suppilied by the Swiss Post Office and gives a brief history of the Swiss National Annthem.

In the Beginning
Central Switzerland was not just the cradle of the Swiss nation. It was also where the country’s national anthem was born. In the summer of 1841, Alberich Zwyssig (1808—1854), a priest and composer from the canton of Uri, was staying with his brother in the “Hof St. Carl”, a magnificent mansion just outside Zug. In these peaceful, secluded surroundings, he had a commission to execute.

Leonhard Widmer (1809—1867), a music publisher, journalist, lyrical poet and friend of Zwyssig from Zurich, had sent him patriotic lyrics and asked him to set them to music. Zwyssig chose the melody he had composed using the “Diligam te Dornine” (I will love thee, 0 Lord) psalm text for a priest installation mass in 1835, when he was master of music at Wettingen Abbey. Adjustments were made to Widmer’s lyrics to fit them to the music during the autumn of 1841. Finally, on Monday, 22 November 1941, “on the eve of St. Cecilia’s Day”, Zwyssig rehearsed his “Swiss Psalm” with four citizens of Zug, in the parlor on the first floor of the St. Carl mansion with its view of the lake and town. Tradition has it that this eyewitness report stems from the lieutenant colonel who sang first bass that very evening.

The start of a long story

As early as 1843, the new patriotic song was published in the “Festheft der Zurcher zofinger für die Feier derAufnahme Zurichs 1351 in den Schweizerbund” (ceremonial publication of Zurich’s Zofinger Association — Switzerland’s oldest student fraternity — marking Zurich’s 1351 accession to the Swiss confederation). That same year, it was also sung at the Swiss Federal Song Festival in Zurich and given an enthusiastic reception. The “Swiss Psalm” was soon firmly established in male-voice- choir repertoires. It was even translated into Switzerland’s Romance languages and from then on frequently featured at patriotic events. However, the Swiss Government rejected numerous initiatives between 1894 and 1953 to make this song Switzerland’s official anthem on the grounds that a national anthem should not be imposed by State decree but freely chosen through its regular use by a country’s citizens. There was in fact another song entitled “Rufst Du mein Vaterland” (when you call, my homeland) which was used on official political and military occasions and was just as popular as the Swiss Psalm. In fact, some people may still remember it to this day. It was sung to the tune of the British national anthem “God save the King (Queen)”. As international contacts intensified in the course of the 20th century, this sometimes led to embarrassing situations with the same anthem tunes being played for Britain and Switzerland.

State symbol for 50 years

In 1961, the Federal council therefore decided to provisionally adopt the “Swiss Psalm” as the official Swiss anthem because it was unmistakable and a homegrown creation. After a three-year trial, twelve cantons came out in favor of the “Swiss Psalm”, while seven others requested a longer trial period and no fewer than six cantons rejected the Psalm as a state symbol. Despite these ambivalent results, the “Swiss Psalm” was provisionally confirmed as the national anthem in 1965, this time for an indefinite period. The Federal council dropped this interim stipulation just ten years later, without, however, excluding the possibility of a future change in policy. Several other suggestions were submitted to the federal authorities but proved nowhere near as popular as the “Swiss Psalm”. So the Federal council finally declared the “Swiss Psalm” to be the national anthem on 1 April 1981, citing in support of its decision that the Psalm is a wholly Swiss, dignified and solemn song — qualities the majority of Swiss citizens want from a national anthem.

The German stamp under  UV light showing the first verse

Here the Anthem here:

Direct link to order this stamp: