The Swiss government is holding a competition where artists are being asked to rewrite the nation’s national anthem because it references God too much, and officials want that played down.
According to a report Thursday from the Christian Institute, the Swiss Psalm, as the anthem is known now, will be rewritten and the winning composer will get a prize of about $10,000.
Lukas Niederberger, who is running the competition for the government, told the BBC, “The real problem is above all the text.”
In English, the words include, “When the morning skies grow red, and over us their radiance shed, Thou, O Lord, appeareth in their light. When the alps glow bright with splendor, pray to God, to Him surrender for you feel and understand that He dwelleth in this land.”
Another verse includes, “When to Heaven we are departing joy and bliss Thou’lt be imparting for we feel and understand that Thou dwellest in this land.”
And a third verse contains, “We’ll feel and understand that God dwelleth in this land.”
In promoting the rewrite, Niederberger claimed the Swiss society is “religiously neutral,” even though the Christian Institute reported a 2010 census revealed two-thirds of the nation’s people identified themselves as belonging to a church.
“Officially the anthem is a psalm, a prayer, but of course we have an open society, religiously neutral,” he said.
While the anthem dates to the 1800s, it officially was adopted in 1981.
The competition is to be decided by a 25-member panel.
In a report in the Christian Post, officials said the competition will run from January to June 2014, and should produce a new anthem that reflects the nation’s democracy and solidarity.
The BBC said Niederberger, of the Swiss Society for Public Utility, told the broadcast agency, “Many people are conservative and the anthem is emotional, but if a composer creates a super song, then we can change the tune too. But that’s a bit difficult for conservative people, so we say the contestants don’t have to change the music.”