"Tautika giesm" (pronounced [ttk sme]; literally "The National Hymn") is the national anthem of Lithuania, also known by its opening words "Lietuva, Tvyne ms" (official translation of the lyrics: "Lithuania, Our Homeland", literally: "Lithuania, Our Fatherland") and as "Lietuvos himnas" (The National Anthem of Lithuania). The music and lyrics were written in 1898 by Vincas Kudirka, when Lithuania was still part of the Russian Empire. The fifty-word poem was a condensation of Kudirka's conceptions of the Lithuanian state, the Lithuanian people, and their past. Shortly before his death in 1899, the anthem was performed for Lithuanians living in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
The first public Lithuanian performance of the anthem took place in Vilnius in 1905, and it became the official national anthem in 1919, a year after Lithuania declared its independence.
"Tautika giesm" was reinstated in 1989 shortly before the reestablishment of Lithuanian independence and confirmed in the National Anthem Act (21 October 1991). It was automatically included as the national anthem in 1992, when the new Constitution was ratified after independence from the Soviet Union was achieved. The status of "Tautika giesm" as the national anthem of Lithuania was further confirmed in 1999 with the passage of a national law stating that.
At the time when the poem Lietuva, Tvyne ms was written, Lithuania was part of the Russian Empire. Kudirka, a medical student at the University of Warsaw, was writing as a columnist for the newspaper Varpas (The Bell). In his Varpas columns, Kudirka urged Lithuanians to take pride in their heritage, discussed the problems the Russian Government was causing the Lithuanian population, and denounced those who wished to work for the Tsarist autocracy. In the course of writing for Varpas, he wrote down his thoughts on what Lithuania was and what it should be, resulting in the fifty-word poem Lietuva, Tvyn ms ("Lithuania, Our Homeland").
The poem described the heroic past of Lithuania and exhorted its people to care for the land, care for humanity, and live in honor. Kudirka also urged the country to become a source of enlightenment and virtue. Without a melody, Kudirka took the time to compose the music just before dying of tuberculosis. Both the melody and the lyrics were printed in Varpas in September 1898. Upon his death in 1899, Kudirka's tomb was engraved with the second stanza of the anthem (later destroyed by the authorities).
Before Kudirka's death, the first performance of the poem occurred at a concert in St. Petersburg, Russia in 1899. The concert was conducted by eslovas Sasnauskas and was attended by Lithuanians, which St. Petersburg had the largest population of at that time. The anthem was first performed in Lithuania during the Great Seimas of Vilnius on December 3, 1905.
When Lithuania declared its independence from Russia in 1918, the song was declared the national anthem. It held this status until Lithuania was annexed into the Soviet Union during World War II. During the interwar period, there had been suggestions to modify the words to include a reference to God. It was decided, in Kudirka's memory, that the lyrics should remain as he had written them.