Understand our national anthem

Overheard from

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Happy National Day to all Singaporeans and Majulah Singapura!

The words of our national anthem carry a simple and profound spirit. It is about togetherness, and aspiring for a better future. That was the spirit of our pioneers, and must still be what Singapore is about.

“What Singapore becomes depends on what we make of it…Let us dedicate ourselves to working together, and building a brighter future for us all” – PM Lee in his National Day Message yesterday.

Schoolchildren sing our national anthem daily. But many Singaporeans admit that they do not understand the words they are singing, which are in Malay, our national language. Some learnt the meaning in school and later forgot. Some do not know what they are singing even in school. We must make an effort to understand the national anthem. It is simple, it is ours, and it is part of our identity.

Zubir Said, seen in the photo in his later years, composed our national anthem. He was one of our pioneers. He was a self-taught musician, who first came to Singapore in 1928 from Bukittinggi in the Minangkabau highlands of Sumatra. He joined a bangsawan or Malay opera troupe. After the war, he joined Shaw Brothers as an orchestra conductor, then later as song-writer. He passed away at age 80 in 1987 at his home at Joo Chiat Place.

Pak Zubir first wrote Majulah Singapura in 1958. It was commissioned by the City Council for the re-opening of Victoria Theatre that year. When we attained self-government in 1959, the song was revised and adopted as a national anthem by our first elected Legislative Assembly. It replaced “God Save the Queen” in Nov 1959.

The main change from the 1958 version was to shorten the anthem (by 4 lines) so it could be sung easily by school-children. Some of the original scripts with handwritten amendments are on display at our Malay Heritage Centre. There were further small changes before Majulah Singapura became our national anthem in 1965.

The aim was to have an anthem with simple words in the national language that everyone, people of different races, could easily understand and sing.

Let’s make sure we all know what our national anthem means, help every child understand it, and sing it with our hearts year after year!

Majulah Singapura and English translation below.

Majulah Singapura

Mari kita rakyat Singapura
Sama-sama menuju bahagia
Cita-cita kita yang mulia
Berjaya Singapura

Marilah kita bersatu
Dengan semangat yang baru
Semua kita berseru
Majulah Singapura
Majulah Singapura

Marilah kita bersatu
Dengan semangat yang baru
Semua kita berseru
Majulah Singapura
Majulah Singapura

English Translation

Come, fellow Singaporeans
Let us progress towards happiness together
May our noble aspiration bring
Singapore success

Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Let our voices soar as one
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

Come, let us unite
In a new spirit
Let our voices soar as one
Onward Singapore
Onward Singapore

Zubir Said

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