Thursday, April 19, 2012


Our neighbors to the north went looking for a hymn or anthem for their new Commonwealth.  Two brothers, Jose and Joaquin Pangelinan, are credited with composing the Chamorro lyrics, and David Peter, better known as Taulamwar, with the Carolinian lyrics.

But where does the melody come from?  There's the surprise.  Or maybe not.

Here's how Goro' sings the CNMI Anthem :

Even as a teenager, I always thought the melody sounded suspiciously European and possibly German.  If the Carolinian-influenced bands like Rematau sang it, complete with ukulele, it could pass for something locally made.  But it still made one wonder.

Well, the melody is most certainly German - as the next video shows.  This clip combines both the CNMI Anthem in the first half, followed by the German melody which it borrowed in the second part.

The Germans ruled the Northern Marianas for a short fifteen years, from 1899 till 1914.  But even for that short span, they were more or less liked by the people, for all their strictness, and for many, many years, older people in Saipan and Luta told stories about German times, taught their kids a few words in German and sang a few German songs.

Judge Ignacio Benavente of Saipan, for example, still said his prayers in German forty and fifty years after the Germans had left.  But the German Capuchins taught him those prayers when he was a child and they stuck.

The German original is the song Im Schoensten Wiesengrund (In the Most Beautiful Valley) composed by Wilhelm Ganzhorn.  It is no coincidence that the original song talks about "home," and saluting home a "thousand times."  The German song talks about leaving home and the desire to die and be buried in one's homeland.  Just switch from valley to island, and you have the CNMI Anthem.

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