The National anthem of the Republic of Croatia is "Our Beautiful Homeland". It was written by Antun Mihanović. It was printed for the first time as "Croatian Homeland" in the 'Danica' newspaper in 1835. Under the name "Our Beautiful" it became the Croatian anthem. A cadet named Josip Runjanin set Mihanović's lyrics to music, with V. Lichtenegger noting and harmonising the piece in 1891.
In 1891, during the exhibition of the Croatian-Slavonian Economic Association in Zagreb, it was sung for the first time as the Croatian anthem under the title "Our Beautiful".
Our Beautiful Homeland
Our beautiful homeland,
O so fearless and gracious.
Our fathers' ancient glory,
May you be blessed forever.
Dear, you are our only glory,
Dear, you are our only one,
Dear, we love your plains,
Dear, we love your mountains.
Sava, Drava, keep on flowing,
Danube, do not lose your vigour,
Deep blue sea, tell the world,
That a Croat loves his homeland.
Whilst his fields are kissed by sunshine,
Whilst his oaks are whipped by wild winds,
Whilst his dear ones go to heaven,
Whilst his live heart beats.
A short history of the Croatian national anthem
The song "Our Beautiful Homeland" was written in the late 40s of the 19th century. The actual year of origin has never been determined but 1848 has been frequently mentioned in this context. The author of music has not been indisputably determined although the late 19th century tradition suggests that it might have been the music amateur Josip Runjanin (1821 - 1878). At the time when the song was supposedly written he served as a cadet in the 10th border infantry regiment in Glina, which is commonly designated as the place of origin.
The song was composed to the verses of "Horvatska domovina" (Croatian Homeland) by Antun Mihanović (1796 - 1861), a predecessor and contemporary of the Croatian national and literary reformation movement, which was published in 1835 in the tenth issue of the literary paper "Danica". The poem has 14 stanzas, but the melody contains only two of them thus belonging to the form structured on the model of a small two-part song, which contains sixteen bars (a a1 b a1). Such a melody normally included singing of the first and second as well as the penultimate and ultimate stanzas of the poem.
It has not been known what was the original form of the melody because the first copy has not been recovered to this day. The melody has been identified according to the record allegedly jotted down by the music educator Vatroslav Lichtenegger in 1861 and based on the singing of his students, trainee teachers. He "set the melody to music according to trainees' singing" (F.Ks.Kuhač). Lichtenegger harmonised the melody and arranged it for men's four-part singing. In 1862 the song was published in "Sbirka različitih četveropjevah mužkoga zbora" - svezak II, broj 9 ("A Collection of Various Four-Part Songs for Men's Choir" - volume II, no. 9) of the National State Music Institute in Zagreb. Subsequently, it was published in some other collections of the same type under the title of "Hrvatska Domovina" (Croatian Homeland). The title "Liepa naša" (Our Beautiful) was mentioned for the first time in 1864 in the collection of "various four-part songs published by the Music Society of Zagreb Spiritual Youth". The subsequent issues featured both titles, but in the late 19th century the title of the song became the first line of "Lijepa naša domovino" (Our Beautiful Homeland), which has been retained to this day.
A few decades later Lichtenegger's harmonisation was followed by other harmonisations, arrangements for men's, women's, children's and mixed choirs, piano and organ, tamburitza and brass bands as well as symphony orchestra.
The text of the poem has undergone certain changes. The first stanza words "domovino" and "djedovino" have been changed to "domovina" and "djedovina", "junačka" used to be replaced with "hrvatska", "vazda" with "svagda" and "čestna" with "častna", "časna" and "sretna". Even the fourth line has been rendered poetically to "Daj, o Bože, sretna bila". Some major changes have been implemented in the penultimate and ultimate stanzas - "Drava" was inserted in the first line of the penultimate stanza, "Sava" stopped being "swift" ("hitra") whereas "Dunaj" became "Dunav". The word "Drina" was inserted into the first line during the Second World War and there were several attempts at inserting "sea" ("more") into the poem, which actually does not exist in the original.
Until the late 19th century the song belonged to the group of songs performed at various national ceremonies, so F. Ks. Kuhač mentioned it in 1889 as one of national anthems (Mnogaja ljeta, Carevka/Kraljevka, Još Hrvatska nij' propala, Mi smo, braćo ilirskog, Bože živi). Subsequently, it was performed quite frequently and denoted as the national anthem. So, in 1907 the Association of Croatian Singing Clubs submitted to the Croatian Parliament a petition "regarding the enactment, i.e. official proclamation, which would introduce the song 'Our Beautiful Homeland' as the Croatian national anthem". The Parliament did not issue any declaration regarding the petition.
Nevertheless, the song was officially considered the Croatian national anthem and performed at ceremonies after the song Carevka. It was performed on various occasions - in the Croatian Parliament on 29th October 1918 when Croatia solved legislative relations with Hungary and Austria, in the period between the two wars when the first part of the anthem was included in the unofficial national anthem of the time, during the Second World War on the warring sides and in the period succeeding the War (after Hej, Slaveni). It was officially proclaimed the Croatian national anthem in the subsection 4 of the first constitutional amendment of 29th February 1972 and the formulation used was as follows: "The national anthem of the Socialist Republic of Croatia (...), 'Our Beautiful Homeland' ". The given formulation was literally written in the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Croatia in 1974. The status and function of the Croatian national anthem was further established in the Constitution of the Republic of Croatia in 1990. The official lyrics of the anthem have been cited in the Article 16 of the Law on the Coat of Arms, the Flag and the National Anthem of the Republic of Croatia, and the Article 17 of the same law brings the score. Thereby both constituent parts of the anthem were established and defined as obligatory components.
Source: Cantus d.o.o., Zagreb, www.cantus.hr