Diachronic Approach To The General Content Dynamics Of A Patriotic Song


Patriotism is an important phenomenon for a person and nation. It acts not only as a value but also as a moral principle, and personal quality of a man. Patriotism through a song forms a value that guides a person’s actions, defining their beliefs and behavioral reactions. The subject of the article is the conceptual specificity of the common themes of a patriotic song over 200 years. The aim of the work is to consider the specifics of the general content of patriotic songs, starting in the years since the Patriotic War of 1812 up to the present day; to identify common themes inherent in patriotic songs of different epochs. Based on the linguistic analysis of lexical units, the authors classified patriotic songs supported by a historical principle. The main themes of the patriotic songs dating back to the Great Patriotic War and the Russo-Japanese War were revealed, which centered around a heroic beginning, the image of the tsar trusting in the future of Russia. The study of the patriotic songs in the period after the Civil War reveals that the topic of love for Motherland is dominant. The main themes dating from the times of the Great Patriotic War are a unifying beginning, a call for battle with the enemy and feat of heroism. The songs of the post-war years are filled with trust in the peaceful future. The rhetoric of post-perestroika patriotic songs is changing dramatically, outlining new guidelines for modern Russia: faith in its greatness and invincibility.

Keywords: Content dynamicsdiachronygeneral content of a songpatriotismpatriotic songvalue


Patriotism has always been a value necessary for successful functioning of society at almost any stage of its development, since it serves as a bond of society, as a system, making it viable and promising in terms of development. Patriotism acts not only as a value, but also as a moral principle, feeling, personal quality of a man. Lack of attention to issues of patriotism will inevitably lead to a weakening of the socio-economic, political and cultural foundations of the state development, which per se affects all spheres of human life activity.

Throughout the entire existence of human society, the ideas of patriotism have inspired many scientists, philosophers, politicians, and writers. The principles of citizenship as the basis of patriotism originated already in the teachings of ancient philosophers – Plato, Democritus, Socrates, Confucius, and later they were developed in the works of public figures and scientists of the XVI–XVII centuries – Montaigne, More, Saint-Simon, Locke, Russo, Pestalozzi and others. The ideas of patriotism excited not only scientists and philosophers, but also numerous writers and enlightened Russian thinkers of the XIX century, among whom it is possible to distinguish Herzen, Karamzin, Belinsky, Dobrolyubov, Chernyshevsky.

One of the classic Russian philosophers of the 20th century Solovyov in his article “The Russian Idea” stated: “... the patriot’s duty is to support one’s own country and to serve it in this national policy without imposing one’s subjective ideas on it” (1988, p. 2). According to Berdyaev, “…patriotism is a great school of citizenship at disastrous time for the homeland. The maturity of Russia for global life and a global role will be directly proportional to conscious civic patriotism, manifested by it” (1990, p. 219). Lenin claimed that patriotism appears as “... one of the most profound feelings enshrined for centuries and millennia of separate homelands” (1969, p. 190). Many philosophers of the past and contemporaneity note the abstractness of patriotism, the involvement in its construction of feelings and emotional experiences, which a priori implies the complexity and some fragility of the phenomenon. It is for a good reason that the artificial destruction and depreciation of patriotism are called as the “spiritual counterpart of AIDS, affecting <...> its central defense system” (Shafarevich, 1991, p. 1). In our view, patriotic songs make a huge contribution to the upbringing of the young generation, conveying in an accessible form the meanings and ideas of previous generations.

Patriotism (2004) is a principle that is understood in its most general form as “a feeling of love for homeland, concern for its interests and readiness to protect it from enemies” (p. 69). Patriotism is often correlated with pride for the achievements of the native country, and at the same time, a person writhes with its troubles and failures. Patriotism is a reverence for the historical past and involvement in the folk memory, national and cultural traditions. Thus, patriotism as a complex entity combines several entities – emotional-mental and rational-ideological.

A patriotic song always remains the means that “helps us build and live” (as it is sung in one of the most famous Russian songs), therefore, it appears relevant in our modern life for transmitting the experience of past generations. Despite the fact that each epoch, as the saying is, has its heroes, and we would add, its songs and ideas and meanings inferred from them, however, there is a common content that is shared by most Russian people.

It is worth noting here that, when listening to a piece of music, the human brain reacts by activating several areas outside the auditory cortex. In addition, the processing of musical information is greatly influenced by the emotional factor. And the most emotional genre in music is the song. The power of a patriotic song is thus undeniable. It has typical features: a patriotic song should be quickly remembered, call for struggle; its melody is usually very decisive or invocative in nature with many repetitions. In principle, this specificity makes the genre of these songs suggestive by nature.

Problem Statement

How to cultivate patriotism in young generation, what means and methods can transfer not just hands-on experience, but value, capable of potentially controlling person’s actions, defining one’s beliefs, value system, and behavioral reactions? Formation of any value representing, from the viewpoint of linguistics and philosophy, an abstract entity, having purely a significative value component, frequently in the absence of or weakened denotative one, cannot be implemented in a simple manner. This implies that the evolution of the concept of patriotism in a person’s mind passes through several stages (according to Vygotsky) during interiorization (that is, the acquisition of a “personal meaning” in terms of Leontiev) and has many sources, starting from traditional ones, such as study and analysis of school literature, family education, participation in patriotic clubs, the “St. George Ribbon” parade, exploratory and research operations, ending with modern forms of communication through social networks and the Internet. The construction of such concepts as “patriotism”, “love for the Fatherland” and “serving the Motherland” and the acquisition of personal meanings by them is also carried out through patriotic songs. In this case, such themes, ideas and meanings turn out to be essential that are in the songs combining with musical and rhythmic components, frequently settling unconsciously, and thus, without conscious control of the human.

Research Questions

The subject of the present paper is the conceptual specificity of the common themes of a patriotic song over the past 200 years. The range of research questions includes an analysis of the general theme chanted in patriotic songs, a study of the relationship between songs and historical events (for example, the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars), as well as a comparison of topics, chanted in songs at different times of the country's historical development, with contemporary ones.

Purpose of the Study

The purpose of the work is to consider the specifics of the general content of patriotic songs, starting from the Great Patriotic War of 1812 to the present day, to identify common topics inherent in patriotic songs of different eras based on a linguistic analysis of lexical units, to conduct a survey of cadets to identify patriotic songs popular among youths casting their lot with defense of our Motherland.

Research Methods

The continuous sampling method and the descriptive method were used to classify the main themes and ideas (i.e. the content side) of a patriotic song. A comparative method was used in linguistic analysis of songs of different times. Additionally, the statistical method was used to determine the frequency of certain language units. The questionnaire method revealed the familiar repertoire of patriotic songs of modern youth with the aim of analyzing the topics covered in them.


To identify the common content of the patriotic song of several generations of our country, we analyzed songbooks and separate songs of various years, starting from the songbooks of patriotic songs “Modern Patriotic Russian Song” by Vinogradov (1848), the pre-revolutionary “Patriotic Song on the Russian-Japanese War” by Meisner (1904), songs about the Civil and Great Patriotic Wars and ending with the Soviet period and present-day songs about Russia by performers of the late XX-early XXI centuries.

At the research stage, a number of historical periods were identified that combined patriotic songs in certain groups:

  • The Patriotic War of 1812 – the Russo-Japanese War.

  • The Civil War.

  • The period after the Civil war.

  • The Great Patriotic War.

  • The post-war period.

  • The Soviet period.

  • The modern stage.

The basis of the patriotic songs during the times of the Patriotic and the Russo-Japanese Wars is a heroic beginning, the idea of folk love for their homeland, Motherland and their historical roots sounds as leitmotif (“Motherland, blessed, Oh Russia, our mother! Continue, our sacred land, prosperous peace! “For our Motherland in the open sea we will die, Where the yellow-faced devils await!”) (Vinogradov, 1848, p. 6). The image of the tsar is inseparable from faith in the future of Russia and is often identified with the divine principle (“For the Tsar, for Faith, friends, For the Fatherland we will shed blood! Children, elders and spouses - take all weapons!” (Vinogradov, 1848, p. 3); “The Russian Tsar is great and glorious: Strong as a lion, quiet as a lamb; a friend – to peaceful, terrible– to enemies, And He is father – for his own people") (Vinogradov, 1848, p. 3).

The patriotic songs of the Civil War period are distinguished by the image of the community, the people that stood in the way of the enemy ("The Red Army, march, march forward! The Revolutionary Military Council is calling us into battle. After all, from the taiga to the British seas the Red Army is the strongest of all!"; "Our red infantry will cross swamps. As soon as it finds an enemy, So it’ll settle a score with him"). And although the main character in the songs is a generalized image of the people, the songs of that age depict specific, memorable individual images and precedent names (“Schors collected us - Young ataman, also Collected Young Peasants.”) (Kryukov & Shvedov, 1977, p. 1).

A study of the patriotic songs of the post-Civil War period shows that the idea of love for Motherland, homeland became the leading topic in most popular songs of that time (“My country is wide, there are a lot of forests, fields and rivers in it! I don’t know another country where the human breathes so freely”) (Lebedev-Kumach, 1936, p. 1). In addition to that, a great number of songs about Stalin came from poets and composers’ pen of that time (“Stalin is the people that triumphs to the heights of the cloudless slopes. Stalin is our deeds, Stalin is the wings of an eagle, Stalin is the will and mind of millions”) (Alymov, 1937, p. 1).

The patriotic songs of the times of the Great Patriotic War are fraught with a spiritual bond, a call for a battle with the enemy and heroic deed. The war songs united the people and raised the morale of the people. In the Soviet Union every war morning, after the traditional hymn song, there was the song-hymn, a song-appeal “Holy War” (“Get up, a huge country, Get up to a mortal combat With dark fascist power, With a cursed horde” (Lebedev-Kumach, 1941, p. 1); or "We are boldly going into battle for the Motherland. We’ll kill the fascists to the last! All the people are fighting for their country. Go to the battle for Stalin, go ahead!" (Gusev, 1942, p. 1).

It is necessary to note that in the patriotic songs of the Civil and Great Patriotic War periods the generalized enemy often acts as antipodes to heroes-patriots - “ You are breathing with a weak West, Alien to the fierce East” (“The Russian Army”), (Meisner, 1904, p. 3), or a personified enemy –“Tatar, Swede or Pecheneg” (“Russian Army”) (Meisner, 1904, p. 3), “Or the Ancient Greek came back to earth” (“There will be no retreat!”) (Meisner, 1904, p. 6). The analysis of the songs of the Soviet and modern periods revealed the absence of mentioning enemies in any form.

Songs of the post-war period are distinguished by their multidimensionality and versatility. Most composers and poets were focused on topics that reveal the thoughts, feelings and moods of the people who returned to peaceful work (“I returned to my homeland, and by the willow near the pond, you are waiting, as in the old years, for my coming. If our homeland were rich and happy, And above the happiness of the motherland there is nothing in the world”) (Matusovsky, 1949, p. 1). At the same time, there appeared the first Soviet student patriotic songs. They appeared as a symbol of one of the most noticeable phenomena of peaceful life – the wide influx of young people in USSR universities. Images based on the romantic commandment of the student brotherhood, saturated with ideas of love for Motherland, have organically become the song tendency. The society had great expectation for the future specialists and makers of the progress. A proud awareness of involvement in the university brotherhood sounds in the “Song of Moscow Students” (“We are ready, Fatherland, for any deed, Precious stores of fire are in every heart – So that our souls never grow old during our life From the first university year to the death hour!”) (Oshanin, 1953, p. 1).

The main feature of the post-Soviet period is the change of values, the pursuit of the “charms of life” abroad, the mass immigration of the population to Western countries. The anthem of the Russian Federation sounded in a new way. But from the patriotic point of view, there appeared interesting songs about love for homeland, the greatness of Russia, the invincibility of the Russian people. The musical piece “Officers” (Gazmanov, 1991, p. 1) has been considered already over a number of years as an anthem of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (“Officers, officers, your heart is under the gun. For Russia and freedom to the end”), songs “Serve Russia” (Reznik, 2004, p. 1) (“Russian troops are walking shoulder to shoulder. And though the military road is not easy, We will faithfully serve Russia!”), “Our Army” (Reznik, 1999), “Behind the Fogs” (Shaganov, 1997) became very popular both among youth and older people.

In order to study the repertoire of songs about patriotism, familiar to the young generation, and to research the modern stage of development of a patriotic song, we conducted a survey among the cadets of Krasnodar Air Force Institute for Pilots. The cadets of the military school were chosen as respondents not by chance. It is well known that patriotic education is a significant peculiarity of military training and education. The study involved 87 cadets, first-year, second-year and third-year students at the age of 17 to 25.

To the question "What is patriotism?" the majority answered as “love for Motherland, country, Homeland” (58 respondents); there were also such answers as: “each person’s military duty to Homeland” (8 respondents), “honoring the history of the people” (5 respondents), “being able to acknowledge not only the strong sides of the country, but also the weak ones” (2 respondents). This fact suggests that for most cadets the concept of patriotism corresponds to the generally accepted ones in society and on the whole agrees with the components of the semantic structure of the unit “patriotism”.

As for the second question “What songs do you associate with the concept of patriotism?”, the cadets named more than fifty songs, starting with the songs of the war years and ending with modern musical compositions. The most popular answers include “The Anthem of Russia” (35 respondents), “The Holy War” (19 respondents), “Farewell of the Slavyanka” (11 respondents), “Victory Day” (8 respondents). Among the songs of the modern singers that cadets consider patriotic there are “Russian guy” (A. Goman), “Golden Path” (Grotto), “Sky of the Slavs” (Alice), “Army” (Max Korzh).

Having analyzed the content characteristics of these musical compositions, we can conclude that the cadets are proud of their Motherland, believe in its future on the basis of a brotherhood of peoples, but not on its expansion. The presence of songs about the Great Patriotic War means a connection with past generations and readiness not only to remember their feat, but also to repeat it, if necessary, which is clearly shown in the words of the song “Russian guy”: “The Russian guy does not run away from bullets, the Russian guy does not groan, the Russian guy does not burn in the fire, the Russian guy does not sink in the water” (Goman, 2004, p. 1).

Thus, according to the results of the survey it is possible to conclude that the popularity of patriotic songs among the cadets is not directly related to modern realities and is based on the core musical compositions of a patriotic orientation inherent in all of today's generations.


In conclusion, the importance of patriotic songs for the state should be noted, having cited an old English proverb that reads: “Let me make the nation's songs and I care not who makes its laws”. Patriotic songs are written to unite the nation, to take people’s pride in their country, to support the historical memory of the people. The analysis of the Russian patriotic songs of the last two centuries allows concluding that the common themes chanted in patriotic songs over a period of nearly two centuries, have been:

  • Love and affection for one’s homeland (“I’m watching – I can’t stop looking at these Russian lands”, “You can go across the entire earth from horizon to horizon, But there is no place like our Motherland”, “Beloved Russia, We live for you”).

  • Readiness and willingness to defend one’s Motherland, sometimes even sacrificing ourselves (“We go on the attack, gritting our teeth to pain, Because we are Russians!”, “Where it is an honor to lay down our life for a friend”, “Let's drink to those who commanded companies who were dying in the snow”, “The soldier was getting tight, the tear was rolling, the tear of lost hopes, and a medal for the city of Budapest was shining on his chest”, “We will stand for you, our Motherland, to the end”).

  • The choosiness of Russia and its divine role (“Everybody remembers how many times you rose To the crosses and icons”, “You are like hearing the voice of God”, “Your great covenants”, “Russia! ... Now you are resolving issues That cannot be solved by anyone”).

  • Geographic and climatic features of Russia (“Russia! Dawns and dews … Meadows and lakes in smoke”, “And there in your thick forests And among your dumb steppes”).

  • Heroic deeds of the Russian sons (“Let’s see the Stalin’s song about infantry, a song about heroic Soviet bayonets”, “There are so many heroes who are ordinary, but persistent and mighty”).

Thus, the theme of love for the Motherland, the readiness to protect it from enemies in the musical compositions under study remains mainly similar and can be easily traced in the patriotic songs about the Patriotic War of 1812, the Russo-Japanese War, the Great Patriotic War and modern songs about Russia. However, one should also note the dynamics consisting in the fact that in the times of wars the uniting themes of the recognition of the leader (God, Stalin), the nomination of the opposing force (enemy, Pecheneg, Tatar, German) have been clearly manifested. In peacetime, patriotism is represented not as a militant force, but as a readiness to work for the benefit of the Fatherland and to build a bright future. The present-day themes of the songs reflect the historical memory of the recent wars, and also voice the hope and faith in the revival of Russia, its greatness and invincibility of the Russian people.


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National interest, national identity, national security, public organizations, linguocultural identity, linguistic worldview

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Kazachenko, O. V., & Khamula, L. A. (2021). Diachronic Approach To The General Content Dynamics Of A Patriotic Song. In I. Savchenko (Ed.), National Interest, National Identity and National Security, vol 102. European Proceedings of Social and Behavioural Sciences (pp. 453-460). European Publisher. https://doi.org/10.15405/epsbs.2021.02.02.57