| ZURICH, July 8
ZURICH, July 8 More than 200 budding Swiss
songwriters have entered a public competition to come up with a
new, more rousing national anthem, according to organisers who
want to ditch a traditional work many view as far too solemn.
The contest, organised by the Swiss Society for Public Good,
aims to replace "The Swiss Psalm" composed by Alberich Zwyssig,
a Swiss monk, in 1841, which critics say is too hymn-like and at
odds with modern-day Switzerland.
Some point to the anthem's recent outing at the soccer World
Cup, where Switzerland's multi-ethnic team mumbled their way
through the words ahead of a clash against France, whose players
belted out "La Marseillaise" with confidence.
"The lyrics are very difficult and many can't identify with
the text since it was originally a church song," said Lukas
Niederberger, director of the 200-year-old Society, a respected
The anthem has been mocked as a "Swiss weather report"
because of its mentions of the Alps, morning skies and misty
valleys. Only a small percentage of the population is said to be
able to sing more than one verse by heart.
Of the 208 proposals submitted, 129 are in German, 60 in
French, seven in Italian and 10 in Romantsch, a minority
language spoken in southeastern Switzerland.
Niederberger said the society was looking for an anthem
suited to national events that could be sung by laymen.
"Some of the entries are ceremonial while some are more
modern," he said.
A 30-strong jury including a slam poet, yodelling experts,
musicians and members of sporting associations has until autumn
to whittle down the submissions to a shortlist of 10, which will
be posted online next year so the public can pick the top three.
Spectators and television audiences will have the chance to
vote for their favourite when the finalists are performed at a
national music festival next year.
The winning entry will be submitted as a suggestion to the
government, who could decide to consult Switzerland's cantons
about the new anthem or put it to a national referendum.
According to the rules of the competition, the new lyrics
must reflect the values laid out in the preface of the Swiss
constitution, which include democracy, acceptance of diversity,
freedom, peace and solidarity.
The text can be written in any of Switzerland's four
national languages, while the melody can bear some resemblance
to the current anthem or be an entirely new tune.
The current anthem was adopted in 1981 and replaced a
previous version sung to the same melody as Britain's anthem
"God Save the Queen", causing confusion at sporting events.
(Reporting by Caroline Copley; Editing by Michael Roddy and