The song was first written in 1771 by a Norwegian student in Copenhagen during the time that Norway was in a “personal union” with Denmark as a drinking song for a Norwegian literary society in Copenhagen. The work was probably adapted to Belgian composer Grétry’s melody after Brun heard it in an opera house in Copenhagen. “Norges Skaal” (also sometimes referred to as “For Norge, Kjaempers Fødeland” from the first line of the song) gained popularity in the early 1800s when Norwegian nationalism was increasing, and the song was banned by Danish officials when it was first performed. It quickly gained a reputation as being anti-Danish and revolutionary, and was referred to as “the Norwegian Marseillaise” by a prominent Norwegian writer.
Danish rule lasted until 1814 when, after a brief period of independence, Norway entered into a union with Sweden. “Norges Skaal” was retained for the first few years under Swedish rule until 1820, no longer under a prohibited status. At this point, a new anthem was given more official status in Norway, the revolutionary nature of “Norges Skaal” no longer needed.
Special thanks to: Stein Are Karlsen for the lyrics and some of this information.