When the new edition of the German hymnal Gotteslob came out in 2013, I was surprised that the appendix for Austria still contains the national anthem (as the 1975 edition had done too). Neither in Germany nor in Austria have I ever heard the national anthem in a service, and I can hardly imagine that this will ever happen. As far as I know, no German hymnal after World War II has contained the “Lied der Deutschen” (or “Deutschlandlied”) by August Heinrich Hoffmann von Fallersleben with the music from the “Emperor’s Hymn” by Joseph Haydn which has served as national anthem since 1922 – with some important later clarifications about the lyrics.
Some Bavarian appendices still contain the “Bayernlied” (“Hymn of Bavaria,” music by Konrad Max Kunz, there are different text versions in use today). Although I do not know exactly, I can imagine that this hymn (“God be with you, land of the Bavarians”) is actually used in liturgies: Bavaria has always kept its own customs and identity compared to the rest of Germany. The “Hymn of Bavaria” actually is the official anthem of the State of Bavaria. Other German dioceses do not have anything of that kind in their hymnals, and the anthems of the other German states – if they even exist – are much less known and used in public.
The Austrian anthem (“Bundeshymne”, federal anthem) is called “Land der Berge, Land am Strome” (“Land of mountains, land by the river”). It is sung with a melody by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, lyrics by Paula von Preradović. The text was elected as the winner of a public contest in 1946 and then revised a bit before it became official in 1947. In 2011 two text passages where changed to make them gender-neutral (but less easy to sing because of metrical issues): “Hei-mat bist du gro-sser Söh-ne” (“You are home of great sons”) became “Hei-mat gro-sser Töch-ter und Söh-ne”) (“Home of great daughters and sons”), and “Brüderchöre” (“fraternal choirs”) became “Jubelchöre” (“jubilating choirs”). The Gotteslob was printed some months after the change, so it contains the official current lyrics.
It might be the affect of someone whose nation has brought so much pain and horror over the world, but I have no sympathy for national symbolism in Christian services. I am thankful that there are no propers in the Missal for any German or Austrian national holiday. With much discomfort I can accept the “Hymn of Bavaria” as a sort of regional pious custom: At least it refers to God by name and can be regarded as a prayer for the nation. But the Austrian anthem is not even that: Apart from its solemn and declamatory language, there is nothing religious (even less Christian) about it.
This is not bad at all: How could I expect other citizens to join in an anthem that refers to the Christian God or any other God? Singing about the beauty of the land, its history and cultural abundance makes sense as a national anthem. But why must it be included in a hymnal used in Catholic services? I am a part of the country where I live, and I do that loyally as a Christian, but in a liturgical context, I do not see a legitimate place for texts that are directly addressed to the country.