As a general rule, most nation states and countries each have their very own national anthem, a song that is used in official events, as a show of patriotism and devotion.
Usually, these anthems are simple, so that they’re easy to remember and sing along to, most often being either a march or a hymn in style.
As mentioned, anthems are usually played during official events or important celebrations. However, they are often also played during international events, including sporting ones, such as soccer matches and similar!
You might have noticed that soccer players of each team sing along to their national anthem before the match begins.
But anyway, let’s get to the question: what is the national anthem of Spain?
You might have noticed that in soccer matches, the Spanish team doesn’t sing along to their anthem.
There was a bit of a Twitter uproar back in 2018, with people finding it disrespectful of them to not sing along. Turns out, there are no lyrics to the Spanish anthem!
So when the anthem plays, Spanish citizens awkwardly hum along or stay silent. But at least there’s an anthem!
Key Facts About The National Anthem Of Spain
The national anthem of Spain is called “Marcha Real”, which translates into the “Royal March”. And as we said, it has no official words.
In fact, it is one of the only four national anthems in the world with no official lyrics, the other ones being Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kosovo, and San Marino.
However, as a curiosity, you should know that the Spanish national anthem did actually have lyrics in the past, they are simply no longer used (we will talk about this later on!)
The Royal March anthem is one of the oldest in the world, and it was first printed in 1761. In that document, the anthem is titled the “March of the Grenadiers”, and is stated to be composed by Manuel de Espinosa de Los Monteros.
It was declared as the official Honor March in 1770, by King Charles III, and that is when it was formalized as the song to be played during solemn occasions, public events, and important festivities. However, it officially became the national anthem during the reign of Queen Isabel II.
In 1879, however, after the Revolution of 1868, General Juan Prim organized a sort of national contest, seeking to create a new official anthem. A jury of three composers was chosen, and over 400 compositions were submitted!
Nevertheless, no new anthem was ever selected, as the jury concluded that the “Royal March” was already the official national anthem and therefore there could not be a new one.
In the Royal Circular Order of the 27th of August, 1908, (during the reign of King Alfonso XIII), the musical score orchestrated by Bartolome Perez Casas was established as the official version of the anthem. After all, it was important to formalize an official version, to stop variations from appearing!
The current version of the Spanish National Anthem is one that was written by the maestro Francisco Grau, and it was decreed as the official one on the 10th of October, 1997. (This is when Spain bought the author rights of the anthem, which until then had belonged to the heirs of Perez Casas, who orchestrated the previous official version).
The Royal March, according to the Royal Decree of 1997, should be played in the key of B-flat major, with a tempo of 76 bpm, a form of AABB, and a duration of exactly 52 seconds.
Why does the national anthem of Spain have no words?
A national anthem not having official lyrics is rare. So rare that, as mentioned above, Spain has one of the only four anthems in the world with no words.
However, as we have already mentioned, the Spanish anthem did have lyrics written for it, they are simply no longer used, and no longer officially recognized. But why is this?
The main reason is that official lyrics have never been approved by the government, and therefore there aren’t any.
In the past, different lyrics have been written and used for the national anthem. One version was used during the reign of King Alfonso XIII, and another version was used during the Francoist State. But as we said, neither were ever made official, so there are no official lyrics!
It has to be said that Franco did actually approve the lyrics for the anthem, but as it was a dictatorship, these lyrics were abandoned as soon as General Franco died.
Ever since 1978, the national anthem has been played without words. So when the anthem plays, Spanish citizens stay silent and solemn, or alternatively, they hum along.
Another question that rises, is whether there will ever be lyrics to the national anthem of Spain, or if it will remain officially wordless.
There was actually a lyric competition held by one of the TV channels in Spain, with many entries submitted. But eventually, the competition was scrapped, as it was clear that any attempt of picking a winner would end in controversy and conflict.
The truth is, Spanish nationality is a tricky subject within Spain, as the Civil War and the dictatorship are still quite recent, with people from both sides still remaining passionate on the matter.
So for the foreseeable future, at the very least, the national anthem of Spain remains without words, but at least it has an epic-sounding score.
Just to sum up the key facts about the national anthem of Spain: it is called “Marcha Real”, which translates into the Royal March. It is one of the oldest national anthems, but it is also one of the only four in the world to have no official lyrics.
The current version of the anthem that is used, was written by the maestro Francisco Grau, and it was decreed as the official one on the 10th of October, 1997.