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Costa Rica

Costa Rica National Anthem

Costa Rica National Anthem

May, 2015

The Costa Rica National Anthem contains proud lyrics, sung in Spanish, usually accompanied by a big-brass-band. However, like the rainforest inside Rincon de la Vieja national park and our “green” hot springs at Blue River Resort & Hot Springs, the story makes for a colorful tale.

Composing the Music

Costa Rica National Anthem

Though exporting orchids without a permit is illegal in Costa Rica, the Guaris Skinneri is seen less often in the wild today. Persons found in breach of the law will be arrested, fined or imprisoned for up to four months. Unfortunately, people harvest the beauties as personal trophies, to sell overseas, or in local nurseries.

Costa Rica National Anthem

At the time, the Director General of Bands for the Costa Rican National Army’s Orchestra was Captain Manuel María de Jesús Gutiérrez Flores (1829-1877). When the President came to him to create the anthem, this rebellious young army soldier resisted the command, on the grounds that he was inadequate to handle the enormous responsibility. So the president put him in prison, siting that some solitude should encourage the achievement of the task. Some accounts describe jail time lasting the night and others for several days. If we may further conjecture, the whole thing is really quite hilarious, with Captain Manuel María de Jesús Gutiérrez Flores, who may have been involved in a few military maneuvers in between, given that this took place around the time of the annexation of the Nicoya Party.

It must have worked because on June 11th, 1852, Captain Manuel Gutierrez conducted the Anthem at the Presidential Palace before the President and the Ambassadors, albeit without words for the music.

The National Anthem’s Lyrics

Costa Rica National Anthem

After the national anthem was composed and performed in 1852, many sets of lyrics were used until 1903, when President Juan Rafael Mora Porras organized a competition. José María Zeledón Brenes (April 26, 1877 – December 6, 1949), whose lyrics were set to the original music composed by Manuel Gutierrez, won. However it took until 1949 when the anthem together with the lyrics, were officially recognized as the National Anthem of Costa Rica.

Whereas other anthems recognize military victories and conquests, the Costa Rica National Anthem speaks of peace, toil, the land, and how, should anyone attempt to besmirch them, they will swap their ‘rustic tools’ for weapons in order to defend themselves. So the lyrics are not about the strength of the Country’s army; instead they refer to the strength of the people. Agriculturalists, farmers, and workers of the countryside, are heralded as the true champions of democracy and progress in Costa Rica. This true greatness is recognized in the Anthem, in the telling of how well they used what little they had to work with, to build towards their dreams.

Here are the anthem’s lyrics, which are sung only in Spanish. The translation here is provided as a guide, just to provide an understanding of the meaning.

The National Anthem of Costa Rica:

Noble Homeland, Your Beautiful Flag

Noble homeland, your beautiful flag
Expression of your life it gives us:
Under the limpid blue of your skies,
Peace reigns, white and pure.

In the tenacious battle of fruitful toil,
That brings a glow to men’s faces,
Your sons, simple farm hands,
Gained eternal renown, esteem and honor,
Gained eternal renown, esteem and honor.

Hail, gentle country!
Hail, loving mother!

If anyone should attempt to besmirch your glory,
You will see your people, valiant and virile,
Exchange their rustic tools for weapons.

Hail, O homeland! Your prodigal soil
Gives us sweet sustenance and shelter.

Under the limpid blue of your sky,
May peaceful labor ever continue!