Tag Archives: national anthem

English National Anthem

 

englishflag

I’ve posted on this before, but I want to be more specific this time.

The British Government has recently debated whether there should be a National Anthem for England, specifically to be sung at sporting events. Scotland has Flower of Scotland, Wales has Hen Wlad fy Nhadau and Northern Ireland uses Londonderry Air. England has used the UK National Anthem, God Save the Queen but does not have one of its own.

Many people have asked for England to have its own Anthem for events when England competes alone. There have been three main ones and one other that does not seem to have many in favour, although personally, I think it would be the best. These contenders are: Rule Britannia, Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem. The unfavoured one is I Vow to Thee My Country.

1. Rule Britannia is not good because it is not England. It’s Britain. The name itself implies Britain. Also, most people don’t know the words except for the two-line chorus. (Rule Britannia, Britannia rules the waves, Britons {Not English, note} never, never, never shall be slaves.) Not a good anthem for England as it refers to Britons, which includes Irish, Scots and Welsh.

2. Land of Hope and Glory is a little better. It is very patriotic and a brilliant tune, but also very much of the 19th century. Can we, in all honesty, in the 21st century sing ‘Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set’? Imperalism gone mad!

3. The seemingly favoured one and one that has already been used at some sporting events. It was sung at the Commonwealth games, I believe, and I have heard it myself being sung at the current series of cricket matches against South Africa.

This is Jerusalem, of course. Brilliant tune, but what about the words?
Well, as I see it the title of the song is suspect. It’s Jerusalem, for goodness sake. Not London, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham, Leeds, etc All good English cities, but Jerusalem, a city in the Middle East. Yes, it is important worldwide as the birthplace and holy city of 3 great religions, but it’s NOT ENGLISH. It’s a national Anthem for England we’re talking about here.

Then there are its religious connotations. It is quite unashamedly Christian.
‘And did those feet in ancient times…’ Whose feet? Jesus’ feet.
‘And was t he Holy Lamb of God…’ Who is the lamb of God? Jesus.
‘And did the countenace divine…’ Whose countenance was divine? Jesus’ countenance.

There are many people in the UK who do not subscribe to Chrisitianity. There are, of course, Hindus, Muslims, Buddists, Sikhs, Jews and many others who won’t be represented by this song, but also the atheists and agnostics and other non-church-going people. We are constantly being told about how the ethnic groups (specifically Muslims) should be encouraged to integrate, and yet a national anthem that will not include them is being seriously discussed.

Finally, on Jerusalem, it is associated with the Womens’ Institute. They sing it at all their meetings.

No, Jerusalem ought to be scrapped as an idea for an English National Anthem, as should any other with overt Christian overtones.

I Vow to Thee My Country is a hymn, yes, but the first verse certainly has no religious implications, just talking about loyalty to one’s country, which is what a National Anthem ought to be about. not vague wishes that Jesus may or may not have come to England, and a wish to build Jerusalem, a city torn apart by religious strife, in our country.