Tuesday, April 24, 2012

This England: Anthems

I meant to do this neatly and post yesterday to coincide with St. George's day, but it didn't happen. Rather bizarrely for a country that has existed in more or less its present form for well over a thousand years, England does not have an official national anthem. At sporting events where the constituent parts of the United Kingdom field separate teams the English team usually plays God Save the Queen, which is the British national anthem, while the Welsh play Land of our Fathers and the Scottish Flower of Scotland. I was listening to a discussion about English anthems on the radio on the way to work yesterday. They were holding a public vote on the best choice, and there were three very clear front runners. All of them are well known and loved tunes. 

(1) Jerusalem - William Blake's poem based on the supposed visit of the boy Jesus to Glastonbury, set to music by Herbert Parry. This is now used as the English anthem at the Commonwealth Games.

(2) I Vow to Thee My Country - from Holst's Planets Suite (Jupiter)

(3) Land of Hope and Glory - one of Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance marches. I already included this in my post about Elgar, but here is another version. Played before England rugby matches.

So which would you choose?


Pamela said...

Jerusalem but it's a personal choice because it's our "family" hymn. It's been in every wedding and funeral that I can remember. I think it would be a tough choice if you put it to a national poll; you can't help but think of England when you hear each one. Great post!

Missus Wookie said...

I'd be able to cope with Jerusalem more than the other two. I remembered and taught my tutorial student it was St George's Day. Had to explain who St George's was first mind...

then went on teaching Irish (inc northern) history/geography 'cause that's what the home work was.

The Bookworm said...

I personally like I Vow to Thee My Country, though I can understand why you would not. Jerusalem is harder for me as I know Tevye would have issues with the overt Christian theme. I think I would actually be tempted to go with the more radical option of a wordless anthem and pick Nimrod.