The Spanish national anthem “Marcha Real” is one of the oldest national anthems and one of four without lyrics (the other ones are; San Marino, Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegovina). Believed to have been written by composer Manuel de Espinosa de los Monteros, the music was first published in 1761.
Written without lyrics there have been many attempts to put words to the anthem. However, nothing has been accepted and even today the music is played without official lyrics.
Different tries to add lyrics
During General Franco’s era the national anthem was sung with words written by poet Jose Maria Peman. However when General Franco died people stopped singing the lyrics.
In 2008, the Olympic committee wanted to try to put words to the national anthem and hosted a competition and out of 7000 contributions one was chosen. Unfortunately, the winning song started with “Viva Espana” just as during General Franco’s time. The criticism was overwhelming, and nothing came of the competition.
In 2015 it was time for another try. Composer Victor Lago tried to find enough support for his text – arguing that his lyrics would be acceptable to all Spaniards, but people were not interested and the initiative was soon buried.
A year later, composer Guillermo Delgado Ortega was hopeful that his text would be the one. His wordings focused on freedom, peace and equality. But, this initiative didn’t drum up enough support either and was forgotten.
Another complication when trying to agree on official lyrics is that different Spanish regions sometimes differ in opinions. Basque Country, Catalonia and Madrid don’t always see eye to eye on how regions and the country ought to be governed. The left-wing politician Pablo Iglesias said in a interview that lyrics are meaningless as long as there is corruption and equality.
So the next time you are wondering why Spanish sports’ men and women don’t sing national anthem, now you know. There are simply no words to sing.