The anthem lyrics were taken from a poem by Johan Ludvig Runeberg, a Swedish-speaking poet, called “Vårt land” (Our Land). The song was first sung in 1848 by a student group and became popular in Scandinavia and many of his patriotic poems, including Vårt land were used by promoters of Finnish nationalism. The poem was translated into Finnish some decades later, after Vårt land was well established as a national song, by Paavo Eemil Kajander and became the anthem before 1917 independence.
Estonia‘s anthem, adopted 20 years later, has the same melody, however the last few lines do not repeat as they do normally in the Finnish anthem.
Interestingly, the anthem has never been officially legislated as the Finnish anthem, but rather is traditionally used as the anthem. As such, there is no standard way to perform the 11-verse anthem, but usually the first and the last verses (as presented here) are sung.
There sometimes arises a debate in Finland to change the anthem to Jean Sibelius’ song “Finlandia” (the melody was used in Biafra), a song recognized internationally as a symbol of Finland, but the general opinion seems to be for now to keep the current anthem. (One reason may be that Finlandia is harder to sing compared to Maamme.)
Special thanks to: Klaus Caussmacher for the sheet music, Daniel G. Andersson for some of the information, and Matti Malinen for the English translation of the Finnish lyrics.