The national anthem of Iceland is "Lofsöngur", written by Matthías Jochumsson, with music by Sveinbjörn Sveinbjörnsson . The song was written in 1874, when Iceland celebrated the one thousandth anniversary of settlement on the island. It was in the form of a hymn, first published under the title A Hymn in Commemoration of Iceland's Thousand Years.
There are also many folk songs which are not religious that include elves and other hidden creatures. Ólafur Liljurós is an old Icelandic folk song who about a man who is going to meet his mother but while is riding his horse, an elf lady seduce him and kisses him. Ólafur eventually dies. In Faroe Islands they have a similar song called Ólavur Riddararós. Old folk songs are often about trolls, elfs and hidden people as well as hard winters.
Rímur are epic tales, usually a cappella, which can be traced back to the Viking Age Eddic poetry of the Skalds, using complex metaphors and cryptic rhymes and forms. Some of the most famous rímur were written from the 18th to the early 20th century, by poets like Hannes Bjarnason (1776-1838), Jón Sigurðsson (1853-1922) and Sigurður Breiðfjörð (1798-1846). Rímur were, for a long time, officially banned by the Christian church, though they remained popular throughout the period. A modern revitalization of the tradition began in 1929 with the formation of the organization Iðunn .
"Heyr himna smiður" (Hark, Creator of the heaven) is probably the oldest psalm which is still used today. It was written by Kolbeinn Tumason in 1208.
Upon recent years, Iceland has seen a development and change in both the commercial and underground music scene. Prominent experimental indie bands, such as the high school originated Hjaltalín, are enjoying a wider public. Notably music veterans are expanding into sub genres, for example GusGus frontman Daníel Ágúst is currently collaborating with punk rock star Krummi from Mínus forming the raw duo Esja. The electronic scene in Icelandic music has also picked up a wider public. Grittier electronic bands are redefining old styles with dynamic music such as the widely acclaimed band Steed Lord, who self-proclaim themselves as producing "Gangsta electronic music".
Iceland Music Export is the name of a government sponsored initiative which "aims to bring together the disparate strands of Iceland's eclectic scene under one roof." The main purpose of the office is to promote Icelandic music world-wide. One of Iceland Music Export's main features is its web-site, Icelandmusic.is which features a comprehensive list of Icelandic musicians and groups of all genres, Icelandic music videos, downloadable mp3s, interviews and profiles.