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What's an anthem? Listen to our top 10

June 28, 2011 |  1:17 pm

Write an anthem, and if it's good enough, get it recorded by London Symphony Orchestra and some of the U.K.’s best singers. The competition is organized by Abbey Road Studios to mark its 80th anniversary.

What exactly is an anthem? Wednesday's Calendar article has your Anthem 101. Read it here.

The definition of anthem is rather elastic, so there’s no typical example. The only restriction is that it must be singable. To give you general parameters, we’ve broken down categories based on the four definitions of anthems that Abbey Road has posted in its rules. Click any video to listen. And turn up the volume.

Celebratory: As in a musical. Something great is happening, so we are going to sing about it.

Examples: "Zadok The Priest," a coronation anthem by Handel, and "We Are The Champions" by Queen.


 Sacred: Old-school anthems are some gems of the choral music canon.

Examples: "If Ye Love Me" by Thomas Tallis and "Os justi" by Bruckner.



Laudatory: Something or someone is awesome. God and dictators feature heavily in this category, but there is also room for other ideas.

Examples: A North Korean ode to Kim Il Sung and "All You Need Is Love" by those Abbey Road regulars, the Beatles.



Tribal: Most obviously national and sporting anthems, but the possibilities are endless.

Examples: French national anthem "La Marseillaise," cricket and rugby classic "Jerusalem" by Hubert Parry, gay anthem "Go West" by the Village People (sung here by the Pet Shop Boys) and "Loch Lomond" (Scottish national football fans getting a bit misty)


What have we missed out? Let us know your favorites in the comments.

— Marcia Adair