Olympic Hymn

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Olympic Hymn
English: Olympic Anthem
Olympic Hymn title.jpg

Official and Olympic anthem of Olympic Games and the International Olympic Committee
Also known as Greek: Ολυμπιακός Ύμνος
French: Hymne Olympique
Lyrics Kostis Palamas
Music Spyridon Samaras, 1896
Adopted 1958
Audio sample
The Olympic Hymn

The Olympic Hymn (Greek: Ολυμπιακός Ύμνος, Olympiakós Ýmnos), also known informally as the Olympic Anthem, is a choral cantata by opera composer Spyridon Samaras (1861-1917), with lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Both poet and composer were the choice of the Greek Demetrius Vikelas, who was the first President of the International Olympic Committee.


The anthem was performed for the first time for the ceremony of opening of the first edition at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In the following years, every hosting nation commissioned to various musicians the composition of a specific Olympic hymn for their own edition of the games.

The anthem by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem by the International Olympic Committee in 1958 at the 54th Session of the IOC in Tokyo, Japan. Since 1960, it has been played at each Olympic Games: during the opening ceremony when the Olympic flag is hoisted, and during the closing ceremony when the Olympic flag is lowered.[1]


Original Greek Transliterated into Latin alphabet
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα
του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του αληθινού,
Κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα
στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και τ' ουρανού.
Στο δρόμο και στο πάλεμα και στο λιθάρι
Στων ευγενών αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή
Και με το αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι
και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί. (δις)
Κάμποι, βουνά και θάλασσες φέγγουνε μαζί σου
σαν ένας λευκοπόρφυρος μέγας ναός.
Και τρέχει στο ναό εδώ προσκυνητής σου (δις)
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, κάθε λαός. (δις)
Arkhéo Pnévma athánato, aghné patéra
tou oréou, tou meghálou ke tou alithinoú
Katéva, fanerósou ki ástrapse edhó péra
sti dhóksa tis dhikís sou ghis ke t'ouranoú.
Sto dhrómo ke sto pálema ke sto lithári
Ston evghenón aghónon lámpse tin ormí.
Ke me to amáranto stefánose klonári
ke sidherénio pláse ke áksio to kormí. (2x)
Kámpi, vouná ke thálasses féngoune mazí sou
san énas lefkopórfyros méghas naós
Ke trékhi sto naó edhó proskynitís sou (2x)
Arkhéo Pnévma athánato, káthe laós. (2x)
English translation (literal) English translation (free)
O Ancient immortal Spirit, pure father
Of beauty, of greatness and of truth,
Descend, reveal yourself and flash like lightning here,
within the glory of your own earth and sky.
At running and at wrestling and at throwing,
Shine in the momentum of noble contests,
And crown with the unfading branch
And make the body worthy and ironlike. (2x)
Plains, mountains and seas glow with you
Like a white-and-purple great temple,
And hastens to the temple here - your pilgrim, (2x)
O Ancient immortal Spirit - every nation. (2x)
Immortal spirit of antiquity
Father of the true, beautiful and good
Descend, appear, shed over us thy light
Upon this ground and under this sky
Which has first witnessed thy unperishable fame
Give life and animation to these noble games!
Throw wreaths of fadeless flowers to the victors
In the race and in the strife
Create in our breasts, hearts of steel!
In thy light, plains, mountains and seas
Shine in a roseate hue and form a vast temple
To which all nations throng to adore thee
Oh immortal spirit of antiquity!
English sung version
Olympian flame immortal
Whose beacon lights our way
Emblaze our hearts with the fires of hope
On this momentous day
As now we come across the world
To share these Games of old
Let all the flags of every land
In brotherhood unfold
Sing out each nation, voices strong
Rise up in harmony
All hail our brave Olympians
With strains of victory
Olympic light burn on and on
O'er seas and mountains and plains
Unite, inspire, bring honor
To these ascending games
May valor reign victorious
Along the path of golden way
As tomorrow's new champions now come forth
Rising to the fervent spirit of the game
Let splendour pervade each noble deed
Crowned with glory and fame
And let fraternity and fellowship
Surround the soul of every nation
Oh flame, eternal in your firmament so bright
Illuminate us with your everlasting light
That grace and beauty and magnificence
Shine like the sun
Blazing above
Bestow on us your honor, truth and love
Note: This version, although often performed at opening/closing ceremonies, appears to enjoy far less exposure than the original. Hence its words may be determined only by listening to performances; correspondents will most probably disagree on the correct form. An alternate ending to the lyrics (used at the opening ceremony of the 1984 Los Angeles games) was "Bestow on us the wondrous prize of honor, truth and love."[2] and at the closing ceremony of the 2012 London games was to short the English lyrics to the ending.[clarification needed] This version was sung at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics.
French sung version
Esprit antique et éternel, créateur auguste
De la beauté, de la grandeur et de la vérité
Descends ici, parais, brille comme l'éclair,
Dans la gloire de la terre et de ton ciel.
Dans la course et la lutte et le poids
Des nobles jeux éclaire l'élan,
Prépare la couronne
Faite de la branche immortelle,
Et donne au corps la force
De l'acier et la dignité.
Les campagnes, les monts,
Les mers brillent autour de toi,
Comme un grand temple fait
De pourpre et de blancheur,
Et dans le temple ici accourent tous les peuples
Pour se prosterner devant toi,
Esprit antique et éternel.

If the anthem is to be performed in English, then the English sung version is used, which has been usually in English-speaking countries. If it is to be performed in a language other than English or Greek, then the original version is translated to the language it is to be performed but in the 2008 Beijing games, Greek was also sung instead of Chinese and in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro games, English was also sung instead of Portuguese. The only Olympic games in which lyrics of the English version were used in translation were the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Donovan Seidle, associate music director during the games, arranged the anthem, translating some of the stanzas to French in recognition of the official bilingualism in Canada.[3][4][5]

Languages in which anthem was performed

The anthem has been recorded and performed in many different languages, usually as a result of the hosting of either form of the Games in various countries. The IOC doesn’t require that the anthem be performed in either English or Greek. But in the 2008 Olympic opening and closing ceremonies in Beijing, China, Greek was sung instead of the host country's official language, Mandarin. Also in the 2016 Olympic opening ceremonies in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, English was also sung instead of host country's official language, Portuguese.[4]

Olympics City Language Performed Notes
1896 Summer Athens,
Greek The anthem was performed for the first time at the opening ceremony.
1960 Winter Squaw Valley,
 United States
English This was the first time that the Olympic Hymn was performed since the Athens 1896 games.
1960 Summer Rome,
1964 Winter Innsbruck,
1964 Summer Tokyo,
Instrumental (opening)
Japanese (closing)
The anthem was sung in Japanese at the closing ceremony.[6]
1968 Winter Grenoble,
1968 Summer Mexico City,
1972 Winter Sapporo,
1972 Summer Munich,
 West Germany
Instrumental An instrumental arrangement was used during the opening and closing ceremonies.[7][8]
1976 Winter Innsbruck,
Greek (opening)
Instrumental (closing)
In the opening ceremony, the anthem was sung in Greek.[9] In the closing ceremony, an instrumental arrangement was performed.[10] In both cases, instead of the third verse, the first verse was performed once again.
1976 Summer Montreal,
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.[11]
1980 Winter Lake Placid,
 United States
1980 Summer Moscow,
 Soviet Union
Russian (opening)
Greek (closing)
The anthem was sung in Russian at the opening ceremony then in Greek at the closing ceremony.[12]
1984 Winter Sarajevo,
1984 Summer Los Angeles,
 United States
1988 Winter Calgary,
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.[13][14]
1988 Summer Seoul,
 South Korea
1992 Winter Albertville,
Instrumental The instrumental version of the anthem was played.[15]
1992 Summer Barcelona,
Catalan, Spanish, and French (opening)
Spanish and English (closing)
At the opening ceremony, Alfredo Kraus sang the anthem's first two stanzas in Catalan and the rest of the anthem in Spanish and French.[16] At the closing ceremony, Plácido Domingo sang it in both Spanish and English lyrics.[17]
1994 Winter Lillehammer,
Norwegian Sung at both the opening and closing ceremonies by Sissel Kyrkjebø with the Children's chorus.
1996 Summer Atlanta,
 United States
English Performed at the Opening Ceremony by the 300 voices of the Centennial Olympic Choir with the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and at the Closing Ceremony by Jennifer Larmore and the Morehouse College Glee Club with the Atlanta Symphony Youth Orchestra.
1998 Winter Nagano,
Japanese Performed by the Nagano Festival Orchestra and sung by the Nagano City Children's Chorus Group in Japanese.
2000 Summer Sydney,
Greek (opening)
English (closing)
These were the first Olympics until 2018 Winter Olympics in which the anthem was conducted in both languages preferred by the IOC.[4] At the opening ceremony, performed in Greek by the Millennium Choir of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of Australia with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra in recognition of the substantial Greek population of Australia.[18] At closing ceremony, performed in English by Australian soprano Yvonne Kenny.
2002 Winter Salt Lake City,
 United States
English Sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir at the Opening Ceremony and by Laura Garff-Lewis at the Closing Ceremony.
2004 Summer Athens,
Greek In Greek; sung to the arrangement of John Psathas.[19]
2006 Winter Turin,
Instrumental At these Olympics, an abbreviated version was performed at both the opening and closing ceremonies.[20]
2008 Summer Beijing,
Greek The anthem was sung in Greek at both the opening ceremony and closing ceremony.[21]
2010 Winter Vancouver,
English and French This was the only Olympics that the anthem was performed in both of the official languages of the Olympics. This was done to reflect the official bilingualism in Canada.[4] Measha Brueggergosman at the opening ceremony and Ben Heppner at the closing ceremony sang the first two, the fourth, and sixth stanzas in English and the remainder in French.[3]
2010 Youth  Singapore Greek The anthem was sung in Greek.
2012 Youth Innsbruck,
Instrumental The instrumental version of the anthem was played at both opening and closing ceremonies.
2012 Summer London,
 United Kingdom
Instrumental (opening)
English (closing)
Instrumental version played in the opening ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band.[22] Sung in English at the closing ceremony by the London Welsh Male Voice Choir and the London Welsh Rugby Club choir with short lyrics.[23]
2014 Winter Sochi,
Russia Russian Federation
Russian (opening)
Instrumental (closing)
Sung in Russian in the same translation as in the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow. It performed by Anna Netrebko with the Sretensky Monastery Male Choir at the opening ceremony. The Instrumental version which also played at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was used at the closing ceremony.
2014 Youth Nanjing,
Instrumental The Instrumental version played at the London 2012 Opening Ceremony by the London Symphony Orchestra and the Grimethorpe Colliery Band was used at both the opening and closing ceremonies.
2016 Youth Lillehammer,
Norwegian A choral version was sung in Norwegian at both opening and closing ceremonies using the same lyrics from the 1994 Winter Olympics[24]
2016 Summer Rio de Janeiro,
English The anthem was sung in English at both opening ceremony and closing ceremony by the More Project Youth Choir from Niteroi, a city from Rio de Janeiro Metropolitan Area.
2018 Winter Pyeongchang,
 South Korea
Greek (opening)
English (Closing)
The first Olympics since 2000 Summer Olympics, in Sydney, Australia, and the only Winter Olympics so far in which the anthem was performed in both of the languages preferred by the IOC. It was performed in Greek by Sumi Hwang at the opening ceremony and in English by 11 year old Oh Yeon-joon at the closing ceremony.
2018 Youth Buenos Aires,
English Performed by Luna Sujatovich at the Opening Ceremony and by Melina Moguilevsky at the Closing Ceremony.[25][26]
2020 Youth Lausanne,
2020 Summer Tokyo,
2022 Winter Beijing,
2022 Youth Dakar,
2024 Summer Paris,
2028 Summer Los Angeles,
 United States

See also


  1. ^ "Olympic Anthem Symbolism" (PDF). LA84 Foundation.
  2. ^ Olympic Anthem Los Angeles 1984 Opening Ceremony (video).
  3. ^ a b Measha Sings the Olympic Hymn.mp4 (video).
  4. ^ a b c d Lederman, Marsha (17 February 2010). "More French in Closing Ceremonies, Executive Producer Says". The Globe and Mail. p. S1.
  5. ^ Dave Pierce, Donovan Seidle (2010). Sounds of Vancouver 2010: Opening Ceremony Commemorative Album (CD).
  6. ^ Tokyo Olympiad Closing Ceremony digest (video). 4:38-5:14 minutes in.
  7. ^ Olympische Hymne 72 Olympic anthem 1972 (video).
  8. ^ Olympische Spiele München 1972: Schlussfeier (video).
  9. ^ Olympic Hymn (Innsbruck 1976) (video).
  10. ^ Olympic Hymn Innsbruck 1976 (closing ceremony) (video).
  11. ^ Montreal 1976 Olympics Music - Olympic Hymn (video).
  12. ^ 1980 Olympic Closing Ceremony – Part IV Olympic Anthem & Extinguishing of the Flame (video).
  13. ^ 1988 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Part 22 (video).
  14. ^ 1988 Winter Olympics Opening Ceremony Part 23 (video).
  15. ^ drapeau et flamme olympiques / Albertville '92 (video).
  16. ^ Barcelona 1992 Opening Ceremony – Entrance of Olympic Flag – Olympic Anthem (video).
  17. ^ Placido Domingo – Olimpic Closing Ceremony Barcelona 1992 on YouTube
  18. ^ The Olympic Hymn (video).
  19. ^ Olympic Anthem Athens 2004 (video).
  20. ^ Olympic Anthem and Torino 2006 Anthem Claudio Baglioni 2006 (video).
  21. ^ Olympics Beijing 2008 – Hasteamento da bandeira olímpica – Pequim 2008 (video).
  22. ^ Opening Ceremony - London 2012 Olympic Games (video).
  23. ^ London Hand Over To Rio (Raising Of The Flags) - Closing Ceremony | London 2012 Olympics (video).
  24. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BkvUckI-WH8&t=57m48s
  25. ^ "Himno olimpico Luna Sujatovich Ceremonia de Apertura Juegos Olímpicos Juventud - #BuenosAires2018". YouTube. Retrieved 11 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Buenos Aires 2018: Closing Ceremony". insidethegames. 18 October 2018. Retrieved 11 November 2018.

External links

  • The original score of the Olympic Hymn, transcribed at Wikisource
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