. ( dpa ) - Spain's national anthem, the Marcha Real (Royal March), may get official lyrics nearly 250 years after it was first printed, sources of the Spanish Olympic Committee (COE) said Friday.
A jury set up by the COE and the authors' association SGAE has chosen lyrics from among some 2,000 proposals. The initial number of proposals was more than 7,000, according to media reports.
Nothing was yet known about the author of the winning proposal, except that he was a man. The proposal will be made public on January 21, when Spanish tenor Placido Domingo is to sing it in Madrid.
The COE needs to collect half a million signatures for parliament to approve the lyrics and make them official.
The COE launched the initiative at the request of athletes who were not able to sing the national anthem at sports contests, and to boost Madrid's bid to host the 2016 Olympic Games.
The Marcha Real, whose origins are unknown, was first printed in 1761. It is one of the world's few national anthems without lyrics.
Lyrics were used for the Marcha Real during the 1886-1931 reign of King Alfonso XIII and under 1939-75 dictator Francisco Franco. Neither version, however, was made official.
The new version stresses heterogeneity within unity in an attempt to avoid offending Basque, Catalan or other regional nationalists, who do not identify with the Spanish state.
The first of four verses, which were leaked by two newspapers, says: "Long live Spain!/Let us sing all together/with different voices/and a single heart."