Origin

Janko Matúška wrote the lyrics as a student at the Lutheran Lýceum (preparatory high school and college) in Bratislava in February 1844. The tune was an old folk song.

The lyrics reflected the students' frustration over the firing of their favorite teacher Ľudovít Štúr from his position of assistant professor of Slovak. The authorities wanted to quell non-Hungarian ethnic activism. A number of students, including Matúška, transferred to other schools in protest shortly afterwards.

The song became popular with the Slovak pro- Habsburg volunteers during the Hungarian ethnic rebellion of 1848-1849.

Anthem

The first stanza became part of Czecho-Slovakia's national anthem in 1918. The other part was a stanza from a Czech operetta tune.

Contrary to several sources, Slovakia's legislature did not remove the status of Lightning over the Tatras as the national anthem in 1939, although the ruling party shunned it in favor of another song until 1945.

Meaning

Tatras — Symbolic of the Slovaks' homeland.

vt150

Stop them — Both the oldest known written and printed versions contain "Let's stop them" (Zastavme ich), but some later versions contained "Let's pause" (Zastavme sa), which happened to be chosen as the text of the anthem in 1918. "Let's stop them" was restored in 1993.

Revive — Central European activists saw their ethnic groups as dormant peoples with glorious distant pasts that needed to be brought back.

Sláva — The literal meaning is "glory, fame," but the word also echoes "Slav(ic)." The scholar, pastor, and poet Ján Kollár was the first to use it as a symbolic name in his momentous poem The Daughter of Sláva in 1824.

Firs — The phrase "like a fir" used about men means "tall and brawny; stand tall; have a handsome figure."

Kriváň — The most symbolic mountain in Slovak activism, also judged to be the shapeliest in opinion polls, is now depicted on the national side of euro cent coins.

Slovak centKriváň on the Slovak side of the pan- European cent.

Slovak anthem

Q: What is the translation?

Lightning over the Tatras

Nad Tatrou sa blýska

There is lightning over the Tatras, Nad Tatrou sa blýska,
thunderclaps wildly beat. hromy divo bijú.
Let us stop them, brothers, Zastavme ich, bratia,
for all that, they will disappear, veď sa ony stratia,
the Slovaks will revive. Slováci ožijú.
   
That Slovakia of ours To Slovensko naše
has been fast asleep so far, posiaľ tvrdo spalo,
but the thunder's lightning ale blesky hromu
is rousing it vzbudzujú ho k tomu,
to come to. aby sa prebralo.

Only the first two stanzas of Matúška's lyrics have been legislated as the national anthem.
Click to listen:

Slovakia already arises, Už Slovensko vstáva,
tears off its shackles. putá si strháva.
Hey/yes, dear family, Hej, rodina milá,
the hour has struck, hodina odbila,
Mother Sláva/Glory is alive. žije matka Sláva.
   
Firs are still growing Ešte jedle rastú
in the direction of Kriváň. na krivánskej strane.
Who has feelings like a Slovak, Kto jak Slovák cíti,
let him get hold of a sabre nech sa šable chytí
and stand among us. a medzi nás stane.

spstorm

Storm over Štrbské Pleso in the High Tatras.