Croatia’s national anthem: Lijepa naša domovino

Croatian flag in Zagreb, Croatia
Croatian flag in Zagreb, Croatia

Lijepa naša domovino (Our Beautiful Homeland) is the national anthem of Croatia. It is often referred to as Lijepa naša for short.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

History of Croatian anthem Lijepa naša domovino

In 1835, Antun Mihanović, a notable Croatian poet and lyricist wrote the original lyrics published under the title Horvatska domovina (Croatian homeland).

In 1846, Josip Runjanin, the Croatian composer, composed the music for Horvatska domovina and adapted the music for a military orchestra.

In 1861, Vatroslav Lichtenegger, a singing teacher and organist of the Zagreb Cathedral, recorded and harmonized the song for a male choir. The song has since been played as the Croatian anthem.

Despite the fact that the song was unofficially used at ceremonies, it was not immediately adopted by the Croatian Parliament as the national anthem. Between 1918 and 1941, segments of the Croatian national anthem were part of the national anthem of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia. It was an unofficial hymn for Croats.

[Read: How laws are made in Croatia]

Antun Mihanović

Antun Mihanović was born on July 19, 1796, in Zagreb. He graduated from elementary school, and high school, and studied philosophy in Zagreb. He also studied law in Vienna and became interested in philology. Over time, he started to appreciate the Croatian language more.

In 1815, he wrote an important brochure Reč domovini od hasnovitosti pisanja vu domorodnom jeziku. This happened before the start of  Hrvatski narodni preporod, an important Croatian national-political and cultural movement. In a way, it was a protest against the Latin language.

Mihanović believed that people could express themselves better in their own language and thus create their own culture. Two decades later, Mihanović wrote Horvatska domovina. The poem was published in the 10th issue of the first Croatian cultural and literary magazine called Danicza horvatzka, slavonzka y dalmatinzka or Danica.

Mihanović died on November 14, 1861, in Novi dvori.

Josip Runjanin

Josip Runjanin was born on December 8, 1821, in Vinkovci. He was an officer by profession, but he was engaged in music. In 1846, Runjanin composed the melody for Mihanović’s Horvatska domovina for military services. The poem was then adapted for the military orchestra.

Due to its exceptional popularity, the poem was chosen as the Croatian national anthem at a large exhibition of the Croatian-Slavonian Economy Society in 1891. The poem was then renamed to Lijepa naša domovino.

Runjanin is the composer of a few more poems, of which the most famous one is called Ljubimo te naša diko. It was composed according to the motive from Donizetti’s opera Love Potion.

He died on February 2, 1878, in Novi Sad, Serbia.

Vatroslav Lichtenegger

Vatroslav Lichtenegger was born in 1809 in Poljčane, Slovenia. He was a Croatian singing pedagogue and a singing teacher until his death. He led the choir at the school of the Croatian Music Institute, and composed, and performed as a pianist.

In 1861, he recorded and harmonized Mihanović’s song for a male choir.

Lichtenegger died on April 15, 1885, in Zagreb.

More about the Croatian national anthem

The official anthem of Croatia was adopted by parliament on February 29, 1972. The anthem was confirmed by the constitutions of 1974 and 1990 and by the Coat of Arms, the Flag, and the National Anthem of the Republic of Croatia Act.

[Read: Meaning behind the flag of Croatia]

The original song included 14 verses, but now only verses 1, 2, 13, and 14 are used.

The most viewed performance of the anthem is by Mia Negovetić, winner of Zvjezdice (Little Stars) Croatian music talent show for children, and klapa Sv. Juraj (Dalmatian traditional choir), which you may view below.

The official national anthem is usually performed by a male choir, which you can listen to here.

Lyrics of the Croatian national anthem

Without further ado, the Croatian national anthem.

Lijepa naša domovino

Our Beautiful Croatia

Lijepa naša domovino,
Oj junačka zemljo mila,
Stare slave djedovino,
Da bi vazda sretna bila!
Mila, kano si nam slavna,
Mila si nam ti jedina.
Mila, kuda si nam ravna,
Mila, kuda si planina!
Teci Savo, Dravo teci,
Nit’ ti Dunav silu gubi,
Sinje more svijetu reci,
Da svoj narod Hrvat ljubi.
Dok mu njive sunce grije,
Dok mu hrašće bura vije,
Dok mu mrtve grobak krije,
Dok mu živo srce bije!
Our beautiful homeland,
O so fearless and gracious.
Our fathers’ ancient glory,
May you be blessed forever.
Dear, you are our only glory,
Dear, you are our only one,
Dear, we love your plains,
Dear, we love your mountains.
Sava, Drava, keep on flowing,
Danube, do not lose your vigour,
Deep blue sea, tell the world,
That a Croat loves his homeland.
Whilst his fields are kissed by sunshine,
Whilst his oaks are whipped by wild winds,
Whilst his dear ones go to heaven,
Whilst his live heart beats.

View our other national posts

Runjanin, Josip
Lichtenegger, Vatroslav

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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