The “National Anthem of Peru” stands not only as a musical composition but as a poignant reflection of the nation’s historical struggles and triumphs. With its inspiring melody and meaningful lyrics, this anthem encapsulates the essence of Peru’s journey towards independence.
The roots of Peru’s national anthem trace back to a time of revolutionary fervor. After Peru declared its independence, General José de San Martín initiated a public contest in 1821 to select the National March, as it was then called. This contest marked a crucial juncture in the nation’s cultural iden0y formation. The call for submissions drew poets, composers, and enthusiasts alike, leading to the submission of seven compositions.
Among these submissions, the musical masterpiece of José Bernardo Alcedo and the evocative lyrics penned by José de la Torre Ugarte garnered exceptional attention. On the day of review, Alcedo’s composition, delivered twice, particularly caught the admiration of General San Martín. The proclamation, “Without a doubt, this is the National Anthem of Peru,” sealed the destiny of Alcedo’s creation. On the night of September 23, 1821, this anthem made its public debut, ringing out in the Theater of Lima amidst an atmosphere of jubilation and patriotism.
¡seámoslo siempre, seámoslo siempre!
y antes niegue sus luces
sus luces, ¡sus luces el Sol!
Que faltemos al voto solemne
que la patria al Eterno elevó,
𝄆 Que faltemos al voto solemne
que la patria al Eterno elevó. 𝄇
I (no en la letra original)
Largo tiempo el peruano oprimido
la ominosa cadena arrastró
condenado a una cruel servidumbre
largo tiempo, largo tiempo,
largo tiempo en silencio gimió.
Mas apenas el grito sagrado
¡Libertad! en sus costas se oyó
la indolencia de esclavo sacude
la humillada, la humillada,
𝄆 la humillada cerviz levantó, 𝄇
Y al estruendo de roncas cadenas
que escucharon tres siglos de horror,
de los libres al grito sagrado
que oyó, que oyó,
atónito el mundo, cesó.
Por doquier San Martín inflamado,
libertad, libertad, pronunció,
y meciendo su base los Andes
la anunciaron, la anunciaron,
𝄆 la anunciaron, también, a una voz, 𝄇
también, a una voz…
Con su influjo los pueblos despiertan
y cual rayo corrió la opinión;
desde el istmo a las tierras del fuego,
desde el fuego, desde el fuego,
desde el fuego a la helada región.
Todos juran romper el enlace
que Natura a ambos mundos negó,
y quebrar ese cetro que España
𝄆 reclinaba orgullosa en los dos, 𝄇
orgullosa en los dos…
Lima 0ple su voto solemne,
y, severa, su enojo mostró,
al tirano impotente lanzando,
que intentaba, que intentaba,
que intentaba alargar su opresión.
A su esfuerzo saltaron los grillos[b]
y los surcos que en sí reparó,
le atizaron el odio y venganza
que heredó, que heredó,
𝄆 que heredó de su Inca y Señor, 𝄇
su Inca y Señor…
Compatriotas, no más verla esclava.
Si humillada tres siglos gimió,
para siempre jurémosla libre,
manteniendo su propio esplendor.
Nuestros brazos, hasta hoy desarmados
estén siempre cebando el cañón,
que algún día las playas de Iberia
𝄆 sentirán de su estruendo el terror, 𝄇
de su estruendo el terror…
VI (el antiguo quinto verso)
Excitemos los celos de España
pues presiente con mengua y furor
que en concurso de grandes naciones
nuestra patria, nuestra patria,
nuestra patria entrará en parangón.
En la lista que de éstas se forme
llenaremos primero el reglón
que el tirano ambicioso Iberino,
que la América, que la América,
𝄆 que la América toda asoló, 𝄇
la América toda asoló…
VII (el antiguo sexto y actual verso oficial cantado)
En su cima los Andes sostengan
la bandera o pendón bicolor,
que a los siglos anuncie el esfuerzo
que ser libres, que ser libres
que ser libres por siempre nos dio.
A su sombra vivamos tranquilos,
y al nacer por sus 0bres el Sol,
renovemos el gran juramento
que rendimos, que rendimos,
𝄆 que rendimos al Dios de Jacob, 𝄇
al Dios de Jacob…
We are free!
May we always be so, may we always be so!
And may the Sun renounce its light,
its light, its light,
Before we break the solemn vow
that the Fatherland lifted up to the Eternal,
𝄆 Before we break the solemn vow
that the Fatherland lifted up to the Eternal. 𝄇
I (not in the original lyrics)
For a long time, the oppressed Peruvian
dragged the ominous chain.
condemned to a cruel servitude,
for a long time, for a long time,
for a long time he quietly moaned.
But as soon as the sacred cry,
Freedom! in its coasts was heard
the slaves’ indolence shakes
the humiliated, the humiliated,
𝄆 the humiliated neck raised up, 𝄇
neck raised up…
Now the roar of rough chains
that we had heard for three centuries of horror
from the free, at the sacred cry
that heard, that heard,
that the world heard astonished, ceased.
Everywhere the inflamed San Martín
“Freedom”, “Freedom” he pronounced;
and the Andes, rocking their base,
announced it, announced it,
𝄆 announced it as well, in unison, 𝄇
as well, in unison…
With its influx the peoples woke up,
and like lighting ran the opinion;
from the Isthmus to the Tierra del Fuego,
from the Fuego, from the Fuego,
from the Fuego to the icy region.
Everyone vowed to break the link
that Nature denied to both worlds,
and break the sceptre that Spain
had reclined, had reclined,
𝄆 had reclined, proudly, on both, 𝄇
proudly, on both…
Lima fulfilled this solemn vow,
and, severe, its anger showed
by throwing out the powerless tyrant,
who had been trying, who had been trying,
who had been trying to extend his oppression?
On its endeavor the shackles cracked,
and the furrows that it had repaired in itself
stirred up its hatred and vengeance,
𝄆 inherited from its Inca and Lord, 𝄇
from its Inca and Lord…
Countrymen, may we see it a slave no more.
If for three centuries it moaned, humiliated,
forever may we swear it’d be free,
maintaining its own splendor.
Our arms, until today unarmed,
be they always readying the cannon,
that some day the beaches of Iberia
will feel, will feel,
𝄆 will feel the horror of its roar, 𝄇
the horror of its roar…
VI (former fifth verse)
May we arouse the jealousy of Spain
since it has a premonition, with want and furor,
that in a contest of great nations
our Fatherland, our Fatherland,
our Fatherland will enter in comparison.
On the list formed by these
we shall fill the line first,
ahead of the ambitious Iberian tyrant,
who devastated, who devastated,
𝄆 who devastated all of America, 𝄇
devastated all of America…
VI (former sixth and present official sung verse)
On its summits may the Andes sustain
the two-color flag or standard,
may it announce to the centuries the effort
that being free, that being free,
that being free gave us forever.
Under its shadow may we live calmly
and, at birth of the sun in its summits,
may we all renew the great oath
that we rendered, that we rendered,
𝄆 that we rendered to the God of Jacob, 𝄇
the God of Jacob…
Composition and Significance
José Bernardo Alcedo’s composition and José de la Torre Ugarte’s lyrics harmoniously intertwine to create a resonating anthem. The music’s rhythm reflects the march towards freedom, while the lyrics encapsulate the longing for sovereignty. The anthem’s initial verse, later revised, was dedicated to Simón Bolívar and José de San Martín, emblematic figures in South American liberation struggles.
The anthem, known as “Marcha Nacional del Perú” or “Somos libres,” encapsulates the ideals of liberty and national unity. It serves as a poignant reminder of the sacrifices made by the nation’s heroes and the enduring spirit of the Peruvian people.
Arrangements and Modifications
Throughout its history, the national anthem has undergone subtle modifications and attempted reforms, reflecting the evolving sociopolitical landscape. In 1869, Claudio Rebagliati undertook the task of restoring the anthem’s original music and lyrics. A subsequent solicitation for revisions in 1874 aimed to rectify minor discrepancies in the anthem’s various versions. However, public sentiment led to the abandonment of this initiative, emphasizing the anthem’s steadfast place in the hearts of Peruvians.
In 1901, an effort to reform the anthem’s lyrics arose, partly due to concerns of aggressiveness towards Spain. José Santos Chocano emerged victorious in a contest to rewrite the anthem’s verses, imbuing them with references to Bolívar and San Martín. Yet, public outcry for the reinstatement of the original lyrics led to Congress’s declaration of the anthem’s lyrics and chorus as untouchable in 1913.
Variations and Cultural Impact
Over the years, the anthem has taken on additional verses and adaptations that reflect the evolving national narrative. In 1954, under the influence of Raúl Porras Barrenechea, Chabuca Granda attempted to introduce a new first verse. Although this attempt did not come to fruition, it speaks to the anthem’s enduring cultural relevance.
The anthem has transcended its role in official ceremonies, permeating Peruvian culture. Its melodies echo in school classrooms, public gatherings, and sporting events, uniting citizens under a shared emblem of iden0y.
Why was the National Anthem of Peru composed?
The anthem was composed to capture the essence of Peru’s struggle for independence and to unite citizens under a shared symbol of freedom.
Who were the key figures behind the anthem’s creation?
José Bernardo Alcedo composed the music, while José de la Torre Ugarte penned the lyrics.
How has the anthem evolved over time?
The anthem has undergone subtle modifications and attempted reforms, reflecting shifts in public sentiment and sociopolitical contexts.
What is the anthem’s role in Peruvian education?
The anthem holds a significant place in educational curricula, instilling a sense of national pride and heritage among students.
How does the anthem resonate in contemporary Peru?
The anthem remains a unifying force, connecting the nation’s historical struggles with its modern aspirations.
The “National Anthem of Peru” stands as a testament to the nation’s indomitable spirit and enduring quest for freedom. With its rich history, melodious composition, and powerful lyrics, this anthem continues to inspire Peruvians across generations. As it reverberates in schools, stadiums, and official gatherings, it encapsulates the very essence of Peru’s journey to nationhood, making it an everlasting emblem of patriotism and unity.