‘Majulah Singapura’ is 60 years old – listen to 2 new versions of the national anthem released today

The national anthem, composed in 1958 by Zubir Said, was originally the official City Council song.
YouTube screenshot

Singapore’s state symbols – the state crest, flag and national anthem – turned 60 years old on Tuesday (Dec 3).

To mark the occasion, the Singapore Symphony Orchestra has created a new rendition of Majulah Singapura (meaning “Onward, Singapore”).

Generations of Singaporean schoolchildren have grown up singing the Majulah Singapura every day during morning…

Posted by Lee Hsien Loong on Monday, 2 December 2019

The anthem, composed in 1958 by Zubir Said, was originally the official City Council song, commissioned to mark the newly-renovated Victoria Theatre. It was first performed by the Singapore Chamber Ensemble.

According to the National Heritage Board (NHB), Said – who wrote the song for free – was inspired by the words “Majulah Singapura” near the foyer of the theatre, and wanted to capture a feeling of loyalty and pride toward the country.

He later shortened the lyrics of the song and tweaked its melody to create the national anthem, which was first performed on 3 December 1959.

The composer said in an interview in 1984 that it had been difficult to change the lyrics of the song to fit the shortened melody without sacrificing their simplicity.

“(The words) must be very simple, understandable for all the races in Singapore… so I consulted also an author in Malay language so that I can do it in proper Malay language but not too deep and not too difficult,” he added.

The last update to the anthem was made in 2001 using a new arrangement in the musical key of F by composer and Cultural Medallion recipient Phoon Yew Tien.

According to the NHB, Phoon’s arrangement was “more accessible to all Singaporeans” and made the Malay song “grander and more inspiring”.

The newest rendition of the anthem was broadcast on all radio stations at 11.20am on Tuesday.

You can download the song at this link or watch its unveiling in the ST video below.

New recording of National Anthem by SSO

The new recording of the National Anthem, by the Singapore Symphony Orchestra, was played for the first time at the flag-raising ceremony on the steps of the former City Hall building at 11.20am. This was to commemorate the unveiling of the national symbols at the same area on Dec 3, 1959.ST Video: Rei Kurohi

Posted by The Straits Times on Monday, 2 December 2019

Apart from the new arrangement, a black-and-white music video for Majulah Singapura was also made to mark the anthem’s 60th anniversary.

It is based on a soulful rendition of the song sung by veteran singer-songwriter Ramli Sarip at the 2019 National Day Parade, and includes additional instruments such as an erhu and a tabla.

The video features 24 Singaporean personalities, including paralympian Theresa Goh, Aids activist Iris Verghese Sim, criminal lawyer Josephus Tan, environmental activist Oliver Chua and Interfaith Youth Circle co-founder Dhaniah Suhana.

In an interview with The Straits Times, National Day Parade creative producer Benjamin Tan said he became more aware of how timeless the anthem was, and how powerful its lyrics were, when organising the parade.

“I felt that it was a pity if we didn’t do a proper music video for this (Ramli’s) version of Majulah Singapura,” ST quoted him as saying.

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