El Gran Carlemany (The Great Charlemagne) – National anthem of the Principality of Andorra


A few words about the country:
They don’t get much smaller than this: the average world map has a hard time depicting Andorra because of its size (about 470 square kilometers, or 180 square miles). It’s a small dot of land in the mountains between France and Spain that has more or less been independent since the 13th century. It is ruled by 2 princes: one being the bishop of Urgell (not to be confused with that beer from the Czech Republic) and the president of France. Yes, you’re reading it right: the president of France is also a prince in another country. Those aristocrats surely didn’t die for nothing back during the French Revolution.

History of the anthem:
In English, the anthem is known as ‘The Great Charlemagne’. Since Charlemagne means ‘Charles the Great’, we can also say the anthem can be called ‘The Great Charles the Great’. Catchy, isn’t it? The lyrics were written by a man named Enric Marfany Bons, of whom I know nothing more but his name. The composer was Juan Benlloch I Vivo, who used to be bishop of Urgell and thus prince of Andorra from 1906 until 1919. Fun fact: this same prince declared war on the German Empire during World War I. Luckily for the Kaiser however, the fearless 12 men strong army of Andorra did not make it to the front line. The national anthem was adopted in 1921.

Catalan lyrics:
El gran Carlemany, mon pare,
dels alarbs em deslliurà,
I del cel vida em donà,
de Meritxell, la gran Mare.

Princesa nasquí i Pubilla
entre dues nacions, neutral;
sols resto l’única filla,
de l’imperi Carlemany.

Creient i lliure onze segles,
creient i lliure vull ser.
Siguin els furs mos tutors
i mos Prínceps defensors!
I mos Prínceps defensors!

English lyrics:
The great Charlemagne, my Father,
liberated me from the Saracens,
And from heaven he gave me life,
from Meritxell*, the great Mother.

I was born a Princess, a Maiden
neutral between two nations.
I am the only remaining daughter,
of the Carolingian empire.

A believer and free for eleven centuries,
a believer and free I want to be.
Be the laws of the land my tutors,
and my Princes my defenders!
And my Princes my defenders!

*Meritxell is the patron saint of Andorra

My humble opinion of the anthem:
Ah, Charlemagne, Big Karl, did indeed conquer the north of Spain from the Moors/Saracens/Muslims. But to call Andorra the only remaining daughter of the Carolingian Empire, seems a bit self centered. I mean, the Frankish Empire was once stretched over current France, Belgium, Luxemburg, the Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Slovenia,… More accurate would have been: “I am the smallest daughter of the Carolingian Empire”. The text is quite short, simple, and quite frankly (haha, get it? Frankly, Frankish?) a bit dull. It doesn’t really speak to me.

Let’s feast my ears on this. Sounds good! Though a bit familiar. I swear, when you slow the beginning down, it sounds quite a lot like the beginning of the French national anthem. But since that’s a great anthem, and the Andorrans are partly ruled by the French president, why not let them have it? I like the melody, I like the rhythm, and the lyrics go decently with the music as well. Yet the singing voices don’t seem too passionate…  I’m gonna give it a 60/100.



One comment on “El Gran Carlemany (The Great Charlemagne) – National anthem of the Principality of Andorra

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