The National Anthem was written in the wake of nationalism during 1956-57. Its composer and author, Zubir Said, had written it on the basis of two words, “Majulah Singapura” or “Onward Singapore”, as a theme for the city council’s official functions. It was first performed in 1958 at the Victoria Theatre. After Singapore attained self government, the song was slightly re-written and was re-introduced in 1959, at the installation of the new head of state and the introduction of the state (later national) flag. The anthem was used as a state song within Malaysia, of which it was a part, and was adopted as a national anthem in 1965 upon independence.
In 2000, the anthem underwent a slight change in that the official arrangement was made more solemn and inspiring. The new version, arranged by Phoon Yew Tien, was officially recorded at the Victoria Concert Hall in November of that year (where the first performance took place 42 years earlier) and was officially unveiled in January, 2001.
Although Singapore has four official languages (Malay, English, Mandarin Chinese, and Tamil), the anthem is only to be sung in the original Malay lyrics, not any translation, as Malay is indigenous to the region and is designated the National Language. (As such, the English translation is presented here, as on several other pages on this site, as a guide for reader comprehension only.)
Special thanks to: Tjut Roslinda for some of this information.