Other than "Life Has Become Better", the music of the anthem has several possible outside influences. Alexandrov himself has described it as the combination of a march with Russian traditional music, particularly that of bylina epic songs. The anthem shares several chord progressions with Vasily Kalinnikov's overture Bylina, Epic Poem (which, as its name indicates, is also inspired by the bylina tradition). There also exist similarities between Alexandrov's anthem and Robert Schumann's Frühlingsfahrt.
When the Communist International (Comintern) was dissolved in 1943 for the Soviet Union to maintain its alliance with the other Allies of World War II, a new composition was needed to replace "The Internationale" as the national anthem. A contest was held in mid to late 1943 for a new anthem, and more than 200 entries were submitted. Alexandrov's music was personally chosen by Stalin, who both praised and criticized it. The anthem's lyrics then had to be written. Stalin thought the song should be short, and that it should invoke the Red Army's impending victory over the forces of Germany on the Eastern Front. The poets Sergey Mikhalkov and Gabriyel’ Arkadyevich Ureklyan were chosen by Stalin's staffers, called to Moscow, and given the task of writing lyrics that referenced not only the Great Patriotic War, but also "a Country of Soviets". The first draft was completed overnight.
The anthem was first published on 7 November 1943. It was played for the first time on Soviet radio at midnight on 1 January 1944, and officially adopted on 15 March the same year. The new lyrics had three refrains following three different stanzas. In each refrain, the second line was modified to refer to friendship, then happiness, then glory. Joseph Stalin and the Soviet Union's war againstGermany were originally invoked in the second and third verses, respectively. Reportedly, Stalin was opposed to including his name in the lyrics but relented after some Politburo members insisted.
With the process of de-Stalinization after Stalin's death, the lyrics referring to him were considered unacceptable, and from 1956 to 1977 the anthem was performed without lyrics. A notable exception took place at the 1976 Canada Cupice hockey tournament, where singer Roger Doucet insisted on performing the anthem with lyrics after consultations with Russian studies scholars from Université de Montréal and Soviet team officials. In 1977, to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the October Revolution, revised lyrics, written in 1970 by original author Sergey Mikhalkov, were adopted. The varying refrains were replaced by a uniform refrain after all stanzas, and the line praising Stalin was dropped, as were the lines referring to the Great Patriotic War. Another notable change was the replacement of a line referring to the Soviet national flag with one citing the Communist Party of the Soviet Union in the form of "Partiya Lenina" (The party of Lenin). These lyrics were also present in the original party anthem at the same place in the melody, but followed by the lyrics "Partiya Stalina" (The party of Stalin).
The same music was used for a proposed anthem for the State Union of Russia and Belarus, entitled Derzhavny Soyuz Narodov ("Sovereign Union of Nations"). Its lyrics were not tied to any specific nationality, and there were official versions in the languages of every Soviet republic and several other Soviet languages; thus it could have been adopted by a broader union. However, it was never officially adopted, and there appear to be no plans to utilize it in any official role.
Unbreakable Union of freeborn Republics
Great Russia has welded forever to stand!
Created in struggle by will of the Peoples,
United and Mighty our Soviet Land!
Sing to our Motherland, Free, and Undying,
Friendship of people is a reliable stronghold!
Flag of the Soviets, Flag of the people,
From Victory to Victory lead us on!
Through tempests, the shadows of freedom have cheered us,
Along the new path where great Lenin did lead,
Be true to the people, thus Stalin has reared us,
Inspired us to labor and Valorous Deed!
Our army grew up in the heat of grim battle,
Barbarian invaders, we'll swiftly strike down.
In combat the fate of the future we'll settle,
Our country we'll lead to eternal renown!
United forever in friendship and labor,
Our mighty republics will ever endure.
The Great Soviet Union will live through the ages.
The dream of a people, their fortress secure!
Long live our Soviet motherland, Built by the people's mighty hand.
Long live our people, united and free!
Strong in our Friendship tried by fire, long may our crimson flag inspire,
Shining in glory for all men to see!
Through days dark and stormy where Great Lenin led us,
Our eyes saw the bright sun of freedom above,
And Stalin, our leader, with faith in the people,
Inspired us to build up the land that we love!
We fought for the future, destroyed the invaders,
And brought to our Homeland the Laurels of Fame.
Our glory will live in the memory of nations,
and all generations will honor her name!
The Russian [Soviet] republics, in freedom united,
Have mustered their power, their glory, their pride,
And thus they created the great Soviet Union,
The will of the nations that spread far and wide!
Great shall your glory be, motherland proud and free,
Bulwark of friendship for nation and man!
Flag of the Soviets, lead us to victory,
Flag of the people since freedom began!
The sunlight of freedom has shone through the tempest,
And Lenin has lighted our path with his flame,
While Stalin has shown us that faith in the people
Inspires us to action, deeds, and fame.
Our army in action has grown in its power,
And soon it will wipe out the enemy horde;
The fate of the future is sealed by our bravery,
For honor and glory shall be our reward!
^Державний гімн СРСР / Derzhavny himn SRSR (Ukrainian) Дзяржаўны гімн СССР / Dziaržaǔny himn SSSR (Belarusian) СССР мадҳияси / SSSR madhiyasi (Uzbek) КСРО Мемлекеттік Әнұраны / KSRO Memlekettık Änūrany (Kazakh) СССР гимны (Bashkir) ССРБ дәүләт гимны (Tatar) ეროვნული ჰიმნი სსრკ / Erovnuli himni SSRK (Georgian) ССРИ Дөвләт һимни / SSRİ Dövlət Himni (Azerbaijani) ΤSRS valstybinis himnas (Lithuanian) Имнул де стат ал УРСС / Imnul de stat al URSS (Moldavian) PSRS valsts himna (Latvian) СССР Мамлекеттик Гимн (Kirghiz) ИҶШС Суруди Милли (Tajik) ԽՍՀՄ պետական օրհներգը / KHSHM petakan orhnergi (Armenian) Дабаралы өвги ССРС (Turkmen) NSVL riigihümn (Estonian) SNTL:n valtiohymni (Finnish) ССРС өрөгөйүн ырыата (Yakut) UdSSR-Hymne (German) Hymne de l'URSS (French) Szovjetunió Himnusz (Hungarian)
^Shostakovich, Dmitriĭ Dmitrievich (2004). Testimony : the memoirs of Dmitri Shostakovich. Volkov, Solomon. (25th anniversary ed.). New York: Limelight Editions. pp. 261–262. ISBN9780879109981. OCLC53183394.