Hold on, Spain, lyrics to come

It may not happen in time for next year's Olympic Summer Games in Beijing, but a move is afoot that finally would give the members of Spain's team some words to sing as their national anthem is played. Yes, you read that correctly: "The Royal March," although it is one of the world's venerable anthems (it dates to the late 18th century), never has had accepted lyrics. So, when American athletes stand at attention and sing "The Star Spangled Banner" and the French belt out "La Marseillaise," the sprinters, kayakers, basketball players, and so on who compete for Spain can only hum or stand mutely as the strains of their anthem blare over a stadium public address system. Now, however, political opposition leaders in Madrid have offered legislation that would create a special commission to put words to the music, with parliament required to sign off on the finished product. Poets and songwriters, so the thinking goes, ought to be able to craft the lyrics in no more than three months. Ah, but hold on, say doubters. They note that Spain is a country of such ethnically and linguistically diverse regions as the Basque country and autonomous Catalonia, with its large Muslim population. Finding words that stir a common sense of pride in the face of all that will be easier said than done, the doubters argue. Still, if the bill passes and the lyricists come through, some sport stars say they and their fans alike will be thrilled, and Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos has promised to sing the anthem "with passion."

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