Saturday, January 14, 2006

The Music of Patriotism

I've heard it twice a day for the last three years. Let's see, that's 365 days x 3 years x 2 times a day = 2,190 times. My first year working at the college, I stood respectfully at attention each morning while the voices of 5,000 students sang in unison to both the national and king's anthem, while a huge Thai flag was raised. By now, I've heard it so often that, by the amazing learning method called "osmosis", I now can even sing it in Thai. But yesterday it struck me that even though these songs are part of the routine of my daily life, I still had no idea what the lyrics meant. A five-minute internet search ended my curiousity. A translation follows:

The Thai National Anthem

Thailand embraces in its bosom
All people of Thai blood.
Every inch of Thailand
belongs to the Thais.
It has long maintained its sovereignty
because the Thais have always been united.
The Thai people are peace-loving
But they are no cowards at war.
They shall allow no-one
To rob them of their independence.
Nor shall they suffer tyranny.
All Thais are ready to give up
Every drop of blood for the nation's
Safety, freedom and progress.
Chai Yo (CHEERS)

To hear it , click here.

Usually, along with the National Anthem, the "King's Anthem" is also sung. In every theater across the country, the audience stands at attention to this song before a movie is shown, and many sports events begin with the singing of these lyrics as well.

The King's Anthem

I, servant of Buddha
Prostrate my heart and head
To pay homage and give great blessings
To the protector of the land,
One of the Great Chakri Dynasty
Head of the Thai people
Supreme in rank
I know comfort from your protection.
Because of your gracious care
All the people are happy and peaceful.
We pray that whatever you wish for
Fate will grant you
According to your heart's desire
To bring you prosperity.
We salute you.

To hear it , click here.

When either song is played on loudspeakers throughout Thailand, I've seen busy town centers and bus stations come to a virtual halt while people stood at attention for the duration of the music. At 6:00pm every night, I'm usually running on a treadmill at the university fitness center when the anthems are played publicly. However, my treadmill also comes to a stop in respect to the Thai around me who cease their exercises and stand at attention while "facing the music."

When it comes to their country and king, the Thai are definitely a proud people!

Acknowledgement: Thanks to our friends over at for the audio link.