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The Finnish National Anthem

Maamme

Maamme, with words by Johan Ludvig Runeberg and music by Fredrik Pacius, was first performed on May 13, 1848, by students celebrating Flora Day in a meadow belonging to Kumtähti Manor in Helsinki.

Runeberg, headmaster of Borgå Lyceum in Porvoo, had written the original text in Swedish, under the title Vårt land (Our Land), two years earlier. The poem was published in autumn 1846 as the prologue to Runeberg's Fänrik Ståls sägner (The Tales of Ensign Stål), a collection of 35 heroic ballads set in the days of the War of Finland (1808-1809). Runeberg's aim was to stir Finnish patriotic feeling with his epic. Finns responded strongly to the poem, and Runeberg was quickly elevated to the status of "national poet."

Several composers had already attempted to set Runeberg's poem to music before Pacius, a German-born composer and music lecturer at the University of Helsinki, but his was the first version to gain widespread popularity. Pacius himself conducted the university choir in a slow, majestic first performance, which moved the audience to tears. Pacius's tune was later also adopted for Mu isamaa (My Country), the Estonian national anthem.

[click here for the lyrics (in both Finnish and English) and to hear the melody]

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The Robinson Library >> General and Old World History >> Northern Europe >> Finland >> General Information

This page was last updated on January 14, 2017.