Deşteaptă-te, române!

(variously translated as "Awaken thee, Romanian!", "Awaken, Romanian!", or "Wake Up, Romanian!") is Romania's national anthem.

The lyrics were composed by Andrei Mureşanu (1816-1863) and the music was popular (it was chosen for the poem by Gheorghe Ucenescu, as most sources say). It was written and published during the 1848 revolution, initially with the name "Un răsunet" ("An echo"). It was first sung in late May in the same year in the city of Braşov, on the streets of Şchei quarter. It was immediately accepted as the revolutionary anthem and renamed "Deşteaptă-te, române".

Since then, this song, which contains a message of liberty and patriotism, has been sung during all major Romanian conflicts, including during the 1989 anti-Communist revolution. After that revolution, it became the national anthem, replacing the communist-era national anthem "Trei culori" ("Three colors").

July 29 is now "National Anthem Day" (Ziua Imnului naţional), an annual observance in Romania.

This song was also the national anthem of Moldova for a few years, but was replaced in 1994 by the current Moldovan anthem, "Limba noastră" ("Our language").

History of the anthem

Since the uprisings of 1848, "Deşteaptă-te române" has been the most frequent national anthem of Romania. In the days following the state coup of August 23 1944, when Romania turned against Nazi Germany and participated in the war along with the Allies, the anthem received heavy airplay.

Immediately after the seizure of power by the communists on December 30, 1947, "Deşteaptă-te române" and other patriotic marches and songs were forbidden. Singing them or even humming them was punishable with heavy prison sentences. Beginning in the 1970s, the anthem was no longer forbidden, although it had no official status.

On December 22, 1989, during the anti-Communist revolution, large groups of demonstrators spontaneously sang the anthem.

The overall message of the anthem is a "call to duty"; it proposes a "now or never" urge for change present in many national anthems like the French revolutionary Marseillaise. This is probably the reason why Nicolae Bălcescu called it the "Romanian Marseillaise".

Another anthem

Besides this anthem, the Romanians also have "Hora Unirii" ("The Unity Hora (dance)"), written in 1855 by the poet Vasile Alecsandri (1821-1890), which was sung a great deal on the occasion of the Union of the Principalities (1859) and on all occasions when the Romanians aspired to union and harmony among themselves. "Hora Unirii" is sung on the Romanian folk tune of a slow but energetic round dance joined by the whole attendance. The round dance (hora) is itself an ancient ritual, symbolizing spiritual communion, equality and the Romanians' wish for a common life.

Original verses in Romanian

Romania's national anthem has eleven verses. In vocal performances it is usual to sing verses 1 and 2, or 1, 2, and 4 (sometimes in the order 1, 4, 2). 1
Deşteaptă-te, române, din somnul cel de moarte,
În care te-adânciră barbarii de tirani
Acum ori niciodată croieşte-ţi altă soartă,
La care să se-nchine şi cruzii tăi duşmani. 2
Acum ori niciodată să dăm dovezi în lume
Că-n aste mâni mai curge un sânge de roman,
Şi că-n a noastre piepturi păstrăm cu fală-un nume
Triumfător în lupte, un nume de Traian. 3
Înalţă-ţi lata frunte şi caută-n giur de tine,
Cum stau ca brazi în munte voinici sute de mii;
Un glas ei mai aşteaptă şi sar ca lupi în stâne,
Bătrâni, bărbaţi, juni, tineri, din munţi şi din câmpii. 4
Priviţi, măreţe umbre, Mihai, Ştefan, Corvine,
Româna naţiune, ai voştri strănepoţi,
Cu braţele armate, cu focul vostru-n vine,
"Viaţa-n libertate ori moarte" strigă toţi. 5
Pre voi vă nimiciră a pizmei răutate
Şi oarba neunire la Milcov şi Carpaţi
Dar noi, pătrunşi la suflet de sfânta libertate,
Jurăm că vom da mâna, să fim pururea fraţi. 6
O mamă văduvită de la Mihai cel Mare
Pretinde de la fii-şi azi mână d-ajutori,
Şi blastămă cu lacrămi în ochi pe orişicare,
În astfel de pericul s-ar face vânzători. 7
De fulgere să piară, de trăsnet şi pucioasă,
Oricare s-ar retrage din gloriosul loc,
Când patria sau mama, cu inima duioasă,
Va cere ca să trecem prin sabie şi foc. 8
N-ajunge iataganul barbarei semilune,
A cărui plăgi fatale şi azi le mai simţim;
Acum se vâră cnuta în vetrele străbune,
Dar martor ne e Domnul că vii nu o primim. 9
N-ajunge despotismul cu-ntreaga lui orbie,
Al cărui jug de seculi ca vitele-l purtăm;
Acum se-ncearcă cruzii, cu oarba lor trufie,
Să ne răpească limba, dar morţi numai o dăm. 10
Români din patru unghiuri, acum ori niciodată
Uniţi-vă în cuget, uniţi-vă-n simţiri.
Strigaţi în lumea largă că Dunărea-i furată
Prin intrigă şi silă, viclene uneltiri. 11
Preoţi, cu crucea-n frunte căci oastea e creştină,
Deviza-i libertate şi scopul ei preasfânt.
Murim mai bine-n luptă, cu glorie deplină,
Decât să fim sclavi iarăşi în vechiul nost'pământ.


Note that, in accordance with Romanian law, there are no official translations of the anthem.

A near-literal translation

Wake up, Romanian, from your deadly sleep
Into which you've been sunk by the barbaric tyrants
Now, or never, your fate renew,
To which your enemies will bow too. 2
Now or never let's give proof to the world
That in these veins still flows a Roman blood,
That in our chests we still maintain our pride in a name
The victor in his battles, the name of Trajan! 3
Raise your broad forehead and look around you
Like fir trees, hundreds of thousands of heroes are standing firm;
A voice they still wait for, to jump like wolves among the sheep,
Elders, men, youths, boys, from mountains to the plains. 4
Watch on, shadows of highnesses, Mihai, Stefan, Corvinus,
The Romanian Nation, your great grandchildren,
With weapons in their arms, with your fire in their veins,
"Life in freedom or death!" shout all. 5
You were vanquished by the evils of your envy
And by your blind disunity, at Milcov and the Carpathians
But we, whose souls were pierced by holy liberty,
Swear that for ever in brotherhood will join. 6
A widowed mother from the time of Michael the Great
Claims from her sons today a helping hand,
Casting curses, with tears in her eyes, on whosoever,
In such great peril, a traitor would become. 7
Of thunder and of brimstone should they perish
Those who flee our glorious endeavor
When our land, our mother with tears in her heart,
Will ask us to cross through swords and blazing fire. 8
Didn't we have enough of the yatagan of the barbaric crescent
Whose fatal wounds even today we still feel?
Now the knout is intruding our ancestral homes,
But we give witness before the Lord that alive, we do not accept it 9
Didn't we have enough of the blinded despotism
Whose yoke, like cattle, for centuries we've carried?
Now let the cruel ones try, in their blind arrogance,
To take away our language, we'll give it only if we're dead! 10
Romanians from the four corners, now or never
Unite in thought, unite in feeling
Proclaim to the wide world that the Danube is stolen
Through intrigue and coercion, sly machinations. 11
Priests, lead with your crucifixes! Because our army is Christian,
The motto is Liberty and its goal is holy,
Better to die in battle, in full glory,
Than to once again be slaves upon our ancient ground!

A more poetic translation

Awaken thee, Romanian, shake off thy deadly slumber
The scourge of inauspicious barbarian tyrannies
And now or never to a bright horizon clamber
That shall to shame put all your enemies. 2
It's now or never to the world we readily proclaim
In our veins throbs Roman blood
And in our hearts for ever we glorify a name
Resounding of battle, the name of gallant Trajan. 4
Do look, imperial shadows, Michael, Stephen, Corvinus
At the Romanian nation, your mighty progeny
With arms like steel and hearts of fire impetuous
It's either free or dead, that's what they all decree. 11
Priests, raise the cross, this Christian army's liberating
The word is freedom, no less sacred is the end
We'd rather die in battle, in elevated glory
Than live again enslaved on our ancestral land.


External links

Sound files can be found as well in the anthem pages of:

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