Aug 13

(Letter) Patriotic Anthems Compared: China’s “God Bless America”

Written by guest on Wednesday, August 13th, 2008 at 5:45 pm
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Someone had mentioned the significance of a patriotic anthem “歌唱祖国” performed during the Olympics opening ceremony. Had to look it up since it is completely foreign to me. It’s also commented that it is the equivalent of “God Bless America”, a patriotic anthem that’s well ingrained with most Americans.

When compared it seems the lyrics are similar. For example both mention majestic land, and a preeminence (God and Mao, respectively). There are also differences, for example individual vs. collective references. But I can imagine a Chinese, upon hearing their anthem, well up with range of emotions about their country, good and bad, happy and sad. I also know it’s not a bad thing; I too feel that when I hear God Bless America.

Here’re my poor attempt to translate these two patriotic anthems:

God Bless America (主佑美国)
God Bless America,
Land that I love.
Stand beside her, and guide her
站在她旁, 引导她
Thru the night with a light from above.
From the mountains, to the prairies,
To the oceans, white with foam
God bless America, My home sweet home.

歌唱祖国 (Ode to China)
Ode to our beloved homeland
towards prosperity from now on

Across the mountains, Across the plains
Across the roaring rivers
宽广美丽的土地, 是我们亲爱的家乡.
Vast and beautiful land, our beloved hometown
Heroic people stand up
Our resolve is strong as steel

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4 Responses to “(Letter) Patriotic Anthems Compared: China’s “God Bless America””

  1. BMY Says:

    They are almost the same

  2. DJ Says:

    Charles Liu,

    I was a bit puzzled with the word “Athens” in your title at first. 🙂 Anyway, it is corrected.

  3. Nimrod Says:

    For example both mention majestic land, and a preeminence (God and Mao, respectively).

    Um, where does the Chinese song mention Mao?

  4. Charles Liu Says:

    Um yeah, it’s in one of the verse I didn’t translate; Ode To Homeland[China] was actually very long.

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