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The NATO military alliance has its own song, as well as a jingle specially recorded over 60 years ago

An empty flagpole stands between the national flags of France and Estonia outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, April 3, 2023.An empty flagpole stands between the national flags of France and Estonia outside NATO headquarters in Brussels, Monday, April 3, 2023.

AP Photo/Virginia Mayo

  • Finland will become NATO’s 31st member on Tuesday, coinciding with the alliance’s 74th birthday.
  • In the past, NATO has marked its anniversaries and big moments with various types of music and songs. 
  • It has its own official “NATO Hymn,” as well as a decades-old jingle called “The NATO Song.”

It’s the start of a new chapter in NATO’s history this week: the trans-Atlantic military alliance is welcoming its 31st member, Finland. And it was Russia’s invasion of Ukraine that made it possible.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg confirmed that Finland’s blue-and-white flag will be raised outside headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday as NATO marks the 74th anniversary of the intergovernmental alliance’s founding. 

Tuesday’s expansion is a big deal for NATO, which has steadily grown over the decades, strengthening the alliance. It is unclear though if the imminent expansion and accompanying flag-raising will feature a musical element as some other important moments and anniversaries in the alliance’s history have.

For instance, when NATO turned 10 years old on April 4, 1959, the alliance and its member governments created a whole slew of products and events to mark the special occasion, including musical compositions.

Celebratory products included picture books, stickers, stamps, brochures, a new headquarters building in Paris, and military parades and fly-overs in capital cities across Europe and North America. Among the more interesting tributes, however, was “The NATO Song.”

According to a NATO fact sheet, American singer Bing Crosby was commissioned to sing the little jingle after the US government backed a publicity campaign to raise the profile of the alliance. The advertising agency hired by Washington also came up with promotional slogans to celebrate the treaty. 

A recording of the song — which is only about a minute long and includes similar themes to those in the slogans, like defense and security — was uploaded to the official Bing Crosby YouTube channel in 2018. A repeated verse says “we live again in peace and strength behind the NATO shield.”

And “The NATO Song” is far from the only musical celebration of the alliance’s existence.

A separate NATO informational page refers to a piece called the “NATO hymn song sheet” and links to the lyrics and notes to something titled “NATO — Song.” This piece was composed in 1959 by German Capt. Hans Lorenz and included lyrics by Dutch Capt. Stephanus van Dam and an American named Leon van Leeuwen and was performed by a chorus and orchestra at a 10th anniversary celebration.

The following year, Air Marshal Sir Edward Chilton of the UK suggested making a piece by Squadron Leader J. L. Wallace that combined the national anthems of the 15 member states at that time the anthem for the alliance, but the proposal was unsuccessful, according to NATO.

At an anniversary event roughly 30 years later, in 1989, a military band played a “NATO anthem” while a choir sang “The Atlantic Hymn.” The military alliance says online that this instrumental composition “proved most successful of all” and went on to play at scores of NATO events, eventually becoming its “de facto” hymn before it was named the official “NATO Hymn” in January 2018.

The instrumental NATO hymnThe instrumental NATO hymn


It remains to be seen if any musical performances will mark the alliance’s 74th birthday and the official addition of Finland on Tuesday. The Nordic country’s bid to join NATO — which came nearly a year ago alongside neighboring Sweden — was sparked by Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. 

NATO requires unanimous consent by all member states to expand, and Sweden’s prospects have been held up by Turkey and Hungary. Like Helsinki, Stockholm would provide the military alliance with a meaningful firepower boost as it faces threats from Russia.  

“We will raise the Finnish flag for the first time here at the NATO headquarters,” Stoltenberg, the secretary general, said on Monday. “It will be a good day for Finland’s security, for Nordic security, and for NATO as a whole.”

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