In the summer of 2019, Hong Kong witnessed a wave of protests that swept across the city, sparking a global conversation about democracy, freedom, and human rights. Amidst this turmoil, an anthem emerged and the patriotic words in Cantonese contained in the song came to symbolize the hopes and aspirations of millions: “Glory to Hong Kong.”
This Cantonese protest song, which is very different to the Chinese national anthem, quickly gained popularity, encapsulating the spirit of resilience, patriotism, and unity among the Chinese people of Hong Kong. So, let’s explore the origins, lyrics, and significance of “Glory to Hong Kong,” shedding light on how this anthem has become a symbol of the city’s ongoing struggle for autonomy and self-determination.
The Birth Of An Anthem
The Hong Kong protests of 2019 were sparked by the government’s attempt to introduce an extradition bill that would have allowed individuals to be sent to mainland China under the Chinese constitution for trial. As protests escalated, the movement evolved into a broader call for democracy and the protection of Hong Kong’s unique way of life under the “one country, two systems” framework.
In this charged atmosphere and difficult time, the anthem “Glory to Hong Kong” was born. It was created collaboratively by a group of anonymous Hong Kong artists, musicians, and activists who wished to provide a unifying and inspirational provisional national anthem for the protesters that was not just a copy of “March of the Volunteers“, the China national anthem. The song was first shared on social media in August 2019, and its resonance was immediate. Within days, it became a rallying cry for the movement, sung at protests, gatherings, and even in schools.
Lyrics: A Message Of Hope And Determination
The lyrics of “Glory to Hong Kong” are filled with a deep sense of identity. Sung in the Cantonese language instead of Mandarin, every word of the anthem resonates with the hearts of Hong Kongers, emphasizing the unique cultural and political identity of the city.
Glory To Hong Kong: The Song’s Patriotic Words In Cantonese
|We pledge: No more tears on our land||何以 這土地 淚再流||Héyǐ zhè tǔdì lèi zài liú|
|In wrath, doubts dispell’d we make our stand||何以 令眾人 亦憤恨||Héyǐ lìng zhòngrén yì fènhèn|
|Arise! Ye who would not be slaves again||昂首 拒默沉 吶喊聲 響透||Ángshǒu jù mò chén nàhǎn shēngxiǎng tòu|
|For Hong Kong, may Freedom reign||盼自由 歸於 這裡||Pàn zìyóu guīyú zhèlǐ|
|Though deep is the dread that lies ahead||何以 這恐懼 抹不走||Héyǐ zhè kǒngjù mò bu zǒu|
|Yet still with our faith on we tread||何以 為信念 從沒退後||Héyǐ wéi xìnniàn cóng méi tuì hòu|
|Let blood rage afield! Our voice grows evermore||何解 血在流 但邁進聲 響透||Hé jiě xuè zài liú dàn màijìn shēngxiǎng tòu|
|For Hong Kong, may Glory reign||建自由 光輝 香港||Jiàn zìyóu guānghuī xiānggǎng|
|Stars may fade as darkness fills the air||在晚星 墜落 徬徨午夜||Zài wǎn xīng zhuìluò páng huáng wǔyè|
|Through the mist a solitary trumpet flares||迷霧裡 最遠處吹來 號角聲||Míwù lǐ zuì yuǎn chù chuī lái hàojiǎo shēng|
|Now, to arms! For Freedom we fight with all might we strike||捍自由 來齊集這裡 來全力抗對||Hàn zìyóu lái qíjí zhèlǐ lái quánlì kàng duì|
|With valour, wisdom both, we stride||勇氣 智慧 也永不滅||Yǒngqì zhìhuì yě yǒng bùmiè|
|Break now the dawn, liberate our Hong Kong||黎明來到 要光復 這香港||Límíng lái dào yào guāngfù zhè xiānggǎng|
|In common breath: Revolution of our times||同行兒女 為正義 時代革命||Tóngxíng érnǚ wèi zhèngyì shídài gémìng|
|May people reign, proud and free, now and evermore||祈求 民主與自由 萬世都不朽||Qíqiú mínzhǔ yǔ zìyóu wànshì dōu bùxiǔ|
|Glory be to thee Hong Kong||我願榮光歸香港||Wǒ yuàn róngguāng guī xiānggǎng|
Musical Arrangement And Performance
The unofficial anthem’s musical arrangement adds to its emotional impact. It opens with a solemn and orchestral prelude, creating a sense of gravitas. As the song progresses, it builds in intensity, incorporating traditional Chinese instruments, choirs, and modern rock elements. This combination of musical styles reinforces the anthem’s fusion of Hong Kong’s rich history and its contemporary struggles within the Chinese nation.
Significance And Impact
“Glory to Hong Kong” holds immense significance in the ongoing struggle for democracy and autonomy in Hong Kong. Here are some key ways in which the anthem has helped cause a cultural revolution:
Unity and Resilience: The anthem has served as a unifying force for protesters, helping them maintain their sense of purpose and solidarity despite challenges and setbacks.
International Awareness: The anthem’s popularity on social media platforms has helped raise international awareness of the Hong Kong protests.
Symbol of Identity: “Glory to Hong Kong” has become a symbol of Hong Kong’s identity and the desire to preserve its way of life against a great wall of Chinese influence.
Expression of Dissent: The song is a powerful tool for expressing dissent and resistance to government policies, making it difficult for the People’s Republic to suppress the message.
Legal Troubles: As the protests evolved and faced increased communist party repression, the Hong Kong authorities decided to ban the song in the schools. Moreover, people found singing or playing it in public were also arrested.
The Hong Kong government, backed by Beijing, has responded to the protests and the anthem with increased crackdowns. In 2020, the Hong Kong National Security Law was enacted, which criminalizes secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign forces. Under this law, singing “Glory to Hong Kong” in public gatherings is illegal, unlike the official national anthem, further restricting freedom of expression in the city.
Despite these challenges, this unofficial Chinese anthem continues to serve as a symbol of a long history of hope and resistance for many in Hong Kong. Its message lives on, both within the city and among the global diaspora of Hongkongers who continue to advocate for the values it represents.
“Glory to Hong Kong” is more than just a protest song; it is a heartfelt anthem that encapsulates the spirit of unity, resilience, and determination of the people of Hong Kong. Born out of a desire to protect their way of life against the enemy’s fire and to fight for democratic values, the anthem continues to inspire and galvanize.
Crackdown On Your Cantonese With Ling
Learning songs from Hong Kong is a great way to improve both Cantonese and Mandarin language skills. Learning the words of “Glory to Hong Kong” is even better because it gives cultural background to the Cantonese you are studying. Ling is a great app for providing cultural tidbits for more than 60 languages because there are thousands of blogs like this one available to read for free. So, download the Ling app at the App Store or Google Play today!