In survey of diaspora, national anthem ranks as top patriotic song

The homeland’s national anthem, “Dievs, svētī Latviju!,” ranks as the No. 1 song that has kept up the spirits of Latvians in the diaspora, according to organizers of a project to record a collection of patriotic music.

The anthem was penned in 1873 by Kārlis Baumanis. It and 19 other songs will be featured on a compact disc as part of the “Ceļamaize” project organized by the Rīga-based Koknese Fund (Kokneses fonds) in Latvia. The fund will distribute the CD to Latvian schools, libraries and community centers around the world, organizers said in a press release.

The No. 2 song is Renārs Kaupers’ “Welcome to My Country.” Kaupers is lead singer of the band Prāta Vētra. The song was used as the basis of the Welcome to Latvia promotional video produced in 2004 by the Rīga-based Latvian Institute.

Kaupers is one of four artists to appear twice in the list. His “Mana dziesma”—with its moving chorus of “Tie ir vārdi no manas tautas, un dziesma man arī no tās, Un es zinu, neviens manā vietā, to nedziedās”—ranks No. 9. The song was performed by Prāta Vētra, the post-folklore group Iļģi and the youth choir during the last Latvian Song and Dance Festival in Rīga.

No. 3 on the list is Uldis Stabulnieks’ performance of “Tik un tā,” a song with lyrics by poet Māra Zālīte. Perhaps most familiar to listeners is the song’s chorus: “Nāk rudens izgreznot Latviju, Bet nepūlies, necenties tā, Mums viņa ir visskaistākā, Tik un tā.”

The songs were chosen by Latvians abroad who participated in a survey in December and January, according to the press release. A total of 1,026 responses were received from Latvians living in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Ireland, Sweden, the U.K., the U.S. and other countries.

Three exile artists are represented in the list. One is Latvian-American lyricist Brigita Ritmane with her song “Manai tautai,” made famous by singer Ieva Akuratere as an anthem for the National Awakening movement of the late 1980s. The song ranks No. 4. Last year, a number of popular Latvian artists teamed up to record a new version of the song.

Composer Jānis Norvilis, who died in Canada in 1994. His choral piece “Mūsu zeme” ranks No. 11, while “Vakara junda” is No. 18.

The third exile artist is composer Bruno Skulte, who died in 1976 in the United States. His “Aijā” ranks No. 20.

Other songs in the Top 20 are:

  • “Saule, Pērkons, Daugava” by Mārtiņš Brauns.
  • The folk song “Pūt, vējiņi” as arranged by Andrejs Jurjāns.
  • “Dzimtā valoda” by Ainars Virga.
  • “Gaismas pils” by Jāzeps Vītols.
  • “Piena ceļš” by Imants Kalniņš, from the film Sprīdītis.
  • “Es dziedāšu par tevi, tēvu zeme” by Jēkabs Graubiņš.
  • “Pie Gaujas,” with lyrics by Jūlijs Eduards Balodis (Rieteklis) and melody by the German composer Vilhelm Justus Lyra.
  • The folk song “Tumša nakte, zaļa zāle.”
  • “Manai dzimtenei” by the composer Raimonds Pauls.
  • The folk song “Mazs bij’ tēva novadiņis.”
  • “Nevis slinkojot un pūstot” by Andrejs Jurjāns.

Besides preparing the CD, organizers are planning a May 4 concert in Rīga to mark the 20th anniversary of Latvia’s restoration of independence. The concert will be televized by Latvian State Television.

Proceeds from sale of the CD, according to the press release, will go toward building an amphitheater at the Likteņdārzs memorial in Latvia.

Andris Straumanis is a special correspondent for and a co-founder of Latvians Online. From 2000–2012 he was editor of the website.

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