Culture
A song for the nation: what is the meaning behind the Maltese national anthem?
Listen out for it!

Melanie Drury

Having sung the Maltese National Anthem rather absentmindedly every morning at school, throughout my childhood, I was surprised to find myself moved to the core by it while researching for this article. I had always noted that it was not quite as jovial as some other national anthems out there, but it sure is deep, and depth has its very own special quality of esteem and dignity.

The Maltese National Anthem (MT: L-Innu Malti) was written by Dun Karm Psaila, Malta's National Poet renowned for his religious and patriotic undercurrents. The prayer was written in 1922 to a melody composed by Mro Robert Sammut. Although the hymn has been widely used in schools and public events ever since, it was only adopted officially in the Independence Constitution of Malta in 1964.

The moment when the Maltese people upheld the Hymn of Malta, as a patriotic symbol, is historic. This happened at a football match at the Gzira Stadium between Malta XI and Yugoslavia's Hajduk Split on 25 March 1945. With Malta still under British Imperial rule, the band played the anthem of Yugoslavia and then that of Great Britain, at which point the people in the stadium stood up and sang the Maltese Anthem. The British Governor had no choice but to stand through to the end of the anthem.

L-Innu Malti

Wikipedia / 12732

L-Innu Malti

Lil din l-art ħelwa, l-Omm li tatna isimha,
Ħares, Mulej, kif dejjem Int ħarist:
Ftakar li lilha bil-oħla dawl libbist.

Agħti, kbir Alla, id-dehen lil min jaħkimha,
Rodd il-ħniena lis-sid, saħħa 'l-ħaddiem:
Seddaq il-għaqda fil-Maltin u s-sliem.

Literal translation of the Maltese National Anthem

This sweet land, the Mother which gave us her name,
Guard, oh Lord, as you have always guarded:
Remember that you have dressed her with the brightest light.

Give, Great God, wisdom to those who govern (her),
Instill mercy in the proprietor, strength in the workman:
Affirm unity among the Maltese people, and peace.

Dun Karm Psaila

Dun Karm Psaila

English singable translation by René Micallef

Guard, Lord, forever, as you've done erst and ceasing never,
This land whose name we received, our motherly-named Mother.
Her you have draped with a light whose grace exceeds all other.

On those who govern, sovereign God, bestow understanding,
Grant wellness to those who work, largesse to those employing,
Make firm, make just all our bonds, the peace we are enjoying.

Accepted simplified English translation by May Butcher

O Little Island, O Lord, as ever Thou hast guarded!
This Motherland so dear whose name we bear!
Keep her in mind, whom Thou hast made so fair!

May he who rules, for wisdom be regarded!
In master mercy, strength in man increase!
Confirm us all, in unity and peace!

Some have suggested that the Maltese National Anthem has become outdated. Its literal translation over the more 'official' ones gives me a feeling that Malta and its people could still benefit from that prayer truly felt.

Anyway, who says the Malta National Anthem couldn't be given a contemporary twist? Here's a wonderful reworking of the Malta National Anthem by DJ Tenishia, made as an introduction to an event in Malta. Doesn't it give you goosebumps?


Melanie Drury
Written by
Melanie Drury
Melanie was born and raised in Malta and has spent a large chunk of her life travelling solo around the world. Back on the island with a new outlook, she realised just how much wealth her little island home possesses.

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