Holland’s 16th-century hymn “Het Wilhelmus” is widely considered the world’s oldest national anthem, followed by the U.K.’s “God Save the King/Queen”—also a hymn, popularized in the 1740s. As nationalism spread throughout Europe in the 18th and 19th centuries, so did anthems. Many countries, such as the independent states that are today part of Germany, took “God Save the King/Queen” as a model and adopted hymns (songs of prayer typically addressed to a deity or VIP). Others, notably Spain and France, chose marches (songs with a strong, regular rhythm often performed by military bands)—which expressed a martial rather than monarchic spirit. With imperialism, Europeans spread their musical taste. Even when former colonies gained independence, they often imitated the traditions of their former rulers. The result is that most anthems are either hymns or marches, played on European instruments.

(2) ( ) What is the second paragraph mainly about?

(A) The function of national anthems.
(B) The world’s oldest national anthem.
(C) The origin and spread of national anthems.
(D) Reasons why many countries have national anthems.

I am thinking about C the answer --it talks about the "origin," but "spread of anthem"--I am thinking about it. D---Because of nationalism, anthems start to be in many places---the answer the teacher showed us is D

  • The whole part is the second paragraph, and the question is (2) What is the second paragraph mainly about? C or D? I am not sure.
    – Carol
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:28
  • 2
    Hello Carol, I would like to see a little more evidence of prior work, not just a test question pasted here. As it stands this is just a quote from an exam, and not a question at all!
    – James K
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:37
  • 1
    What, specifically is confusing for you. Why do you think C is possible. Why do you think D is possible, Why do you reject A and B?
    – James K
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:38
  • During the past three hundred years, when a country gains its freedom or independence, one of the first things established is a national anthem. National anthems are generally played and sung at formal state occasions and other events which celebrate or support the country’s national identity. --The first paragraph
    – Carol
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:39
  • Japan’s anthem makes for a good case study of European influence. In1860s a British bandmaster living in Japan, John William Fenton, noted that the country did not have a national anthem. A local military officer~, selected the lyrics from a Heian era poem and Fenton wrote the melody. About a decade later, a Japanese committee chose a replacement melody by a court musician—one that had been composed for traditional Japanese instruments, but in a mixed style influenced by Fenton’s arrangement. The version in use today was also altered by German Franz Eckert to fit a Western scale (the third)
    – Carol
    Sep 23, 2021 at 18:40

1 Answer 1


Thanks for editing to add your own thoughts. It's often frustrating when the answers to multiple-choice questions have no answer that seems perfectly correct.

There's no way to justify D as the right answer. A few sentences mention why a country chose a particular type of music, but no part of the passage explains why national anthems exist at all. (The sentence about nationalism might imply an answer, but it doesn't explicitly explain why nationalism leads to anthems. Also, the answer says "reasons," plural. Most importantly, questions about the topic of a paragraph often include wrong answers that mention small or tangential things that a paragraph does touch on, but the right answer looks at the paragraph as a whole.

Yes, C seems the most reasonable simply by eliminating worse questions. But yes, there is much more about "origin" and less about "spread" in the paragraph.

  • Well, I think that D is a weak choice, but C, mm, we should eliminate the spread of anthems.
    – Carol
    Sep 24, 2021 at 11:12

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