Die Stem van Suid-Afrika (The Call of South Africa)

Die Stem van Suid-Afrika is a poem written by Afrikaner poet CJ Langenhoven in May 1918. It later became the South African national anthem under the National party. It is no longer the national anthem.

Uit die blou van onse hemel, uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes waar die kranse antwoord gee,
Deur ons ver-verlate vlaktes met die kreun van ossewa -
Ruis die stem van ons geliefde, van ons land Suid-Afrika.

Ons sal antwoord op jou roepstem, ons sal offer wat jy vra:
Ons sal lewe, ons sal sterwe - ons vir jou, Suid-Afrika
Here ends the part sung as national anthem

In die merg van ons gebeente, in ons hart en siel en gees,
In ons roem op ons verlede, in ons hoop of wat sal wees,
In ons wil en werk en wandel, van ons wieg tot aan ons graf -
Deel geen ander land ons liefde, trek geen ander trou ons af.

Vaderland! ons sal die adel van jou naam met ere dra:
Waar en trou as Afrikaners - kinders van Suid-Afrika.

In die songloed van ons somer, in ons winternag se kou,
In die lente van ons liefde, in die lanfer van ons rou,
By die klink van huweliks-klokkies, by die kluitklap op die kis -
Streel jou stem ons nooit verniet nie, weet jy waar jou kinders is.

Op jou roep sê ons nooit nee nie, sê ons altyd, altyd ja:
Om te lewe, om te sterwe - ja, ons kom Suid-Afrika.

Op U Almag vas vertrouend het ons vadere gebou:
Skenk ook ons die krag, o Here! om te handhaaf en te hou -
Dat die erwe van ons vad're vir ons kinders erwe bly:
Knegte van die Allerhoogste, teen die hele wereld vry.

Soos ons vadere vertrou het, leer ook ons vertrou, o Heer -
Met ons land en met ons nasie sal dit wel wees, God regeer.

Here is the official English Translation:

Ringing out from our blue heavens, from our deep seas breaking round;
Over everlasting mountains where the echoing crags resound;
From our plains where creaking wagons cut their trails into the earth -
Calls the spirit of our Country, of the land that gave us birth.

At thy call we shall not falter, firm and steadfast we shall stand,
At thy will to live or perish, O South Africa, dear land.
Here ends the part sung as national anthem

In our body and our spirit, in our inmost heart held fast;
in the promise of our future and the glory of our past;
In our will, our work, our striving, from the cradle to the grave -
There's no land that shares our loving, and no bond that can enslave.

Thou hast borne us and we know thee. May our deeds to all proclaim
Our enduring love and service to thy honour and thy name.

In the golden warmth of summer, in the chill of winter's air,
in the surging life of springtime, in the autumn of despair;
When the wedding bells are chiming or when those we love do depart;
Thou dost know us for thy children and dost take us to thy heart.

Loudly peals the answering chorus; We are thine, and we shall stand,
Be it life or death, to answer to thy call, beloved land.

In thy power, Almighty, trusting, did our fathers build of old;
Strengthen then, O Lord, their children to defend, to love, to hold -
That the heritage they gave us for our children yet may be;
Bondsmen only of the Highest and before the whole world free.

As our fathers trusted humbly, teach us, Lord, to trust Thee still;
Guard our land and guide our people in Thy way to do Thy will.

I find this translation quite flowery. Afrikaans is usually quite a plainspoken language, and the English translation has definitely been tarted up quite a bit, with all those O, thee, thine and many adjectives that are not there in the original Afrikaans version.

I would render the first line in literal translation as Out of the blue of our heavens, out of the depths of the sea. That 'Ringing out' and 'breaking round' is not in the original.

and the last line sung should be translated as We shall live, we shall die, us for you, South Africa

Later on "Waar en trou as Afrikaners - kinders van Suid-Afrika." should be plainly translated as True and steadfast as Afrikaners, Children of South Africa, which is replaced by the mealy-mouthed English phrase Our enduring love and service to thy honour and thy name , no doubt for better acceptance by non-Afrikaners like myself.

The last line of the poem should be translated as: In our land and in our nation all will be well, God reigns.

Of course, this could all just be due to the bending needed to make the English version rhyming couplets like the original.

The music was composed by the Reverend ML de Villiers in 1921.

The South African Broadcasting Corporation played both God save the King and Die Stem to close their daily broadcasts and the public became familiar with it. It was first sung publicly at the official hoisting of the national flag in Cape Town on 31 May 1928, but it was not until 2 May 1957 that Government made the announcement that Die Stem had been accepted as the official national anthem of South Africa. In the same year Government also acquired the copyright and this was confirmed by Act of Parliament in 1959. In 1952 the official English version of the national anthem, the Call of South Africa was accepted for official use.

Note that in 1957, Government meant National party the people who brought us Apartheid. As an anthem, it was basically a load of patriotic Christian Afrikaaner claptrap set to a bombastic brass band instrumentation, suitable for military parades and fascist mass rallies. Small wonder that this was never accepted as the national anthem by the ANC.

The current national anthem is a chimerical one, with parts of the hauntingly beautiful hymn Nkosi Sikelel' iAfrica grafted with parts of Die Stem, but note that the wording has become less fascist:

Sounds the call to come together, and united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom, in South Africa our land.


Lyrics and data from http://www.gov.za/symbols/anthem.htm

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