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Chinese Kids Sing the Olympic Anthem in Greek at Beijing Opening

Chinese Choir Olympic Anthem Greek
The Chinese children sang in Greek after learning the words to the Olympic anthem in less than three months. Credit: Video screenshot/ERT

A Chinese choir of 40 young children sang the Olympic Anthem in Greek during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in Beijing on Friday.

The young kids — who learned the Greek words in less than three months — were one of the highlights of the ceremony.

The Olympic Anthem, also known as the Olympic Hymn, is a choral cantata by opera composer Spyridon Samaras (1861–1917), with lyrics by Greek poet Kostis Palamas. Both poet and composer were the choices of Greece’s Demetrius Vikelas, who was the first President of the International Olympic Committee.

Olympic Anthem was first performed at 1896 Olympics in Athens

The anthem was performed for the first time for the opening ceremony of the first modern-era Olympic Games, at the 1896 Summer Olympics in Athens, Greece. In the following years, every hosting nation commissioned to various musicians the composition of a specific Olympic hymn for their own edition of the games.

The anthem by Samaras and Palamas was declared the official Olympic Anthem by the International Olympic Committee in 1958 at the 54th Session of the IOC in Tokyo, Japan.

The anthem was performed in English at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley and since then it has been played twice at each Olympic Games: during the opening ceremony when the Olympic flag is hoisted, and during the closing ceremony when the Olympic flag is lowered.

The Olympic Anthem in Greek

The lyrics in Greek are as follows:

Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, αγνέ πατέρα
του ωραίου, του μεγάλου και του αληθινού,
Κατέβα, φανερώσου κι άστραψε εδώ πέρα
στη δόξα της δικής σου γης και τ’ ουρανού.

Στο δρόμο και στο πάλεμα και στο λιθάρι
Στων ευγενών αγώνων λάμψε την ορμή
Και με το αμάραντο στεφάνωσε κλωνάρι
και σιδερένιο πλάσε και άξιο το κορμί. (δις)

Κάμποι, βουνά και θάλασσες φέγγουνε μαζί σου
σαν ένας λευκοπόρφυρος μέγας ναός.
Και τρέχει στο ναό εδώ προσκυνητής σου (δις)
Αρχαίο Πνεύμα αθάνατο, κάθε λαός. (δις)

The translation in English:

Ancient Spirit immortal, pure father
of the beautiful, the great and the true,
Get down, show up and sparkle over here
to the glory of your own earth and heaven.

At running and at wrestling and at throwing,
shine in the momentum of noble contests,
and crown with the unfading branch
and make the body worthy and ironlike. (x2)

Plains, mountains and seas shine with you
like a great white-purple temple.
And your pilgrim is running to the temple here, (x2)
Ancient Spirit immortal, every people. (x2)

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