Saturday, 14 July 2012

An anthem for England?

I'm a proud Englishman, proud enough to believe that we might, on occasion, need an anthem that speaks of that Englishness. It would be wonderful if some musical genius had put a tune to this:

Take of English earth as much
As either hand may rightly clutch.
In the taking of it breathe
Prayer for all who lie beneath.
Not the great nor well-bespoke,
But the mere uncounted folk
Of whose life and death is none
Report or lamentation.
Lay that earth upon thy heart,
And thy sickness shall depart!

It shall sweeten and make whole
Fevered breath and festered soul.
It shall mightily restrain
Over-busied hand and brain.
It shall ease thy mortal strife
'Gainst the immortal woe of life,
Till thyself, restored, shall prove
By what grace the Heavens do move.

But since that isn't so we are told we should have Jerusalem, stirring but holding no magic of England and hi-jacked by the Church or "I vow to thee my country", a hymn filled with god and lifted from Holst's wonderful Planet Suite but not an anthem. Some point us to "Land of Hope and Glory" that stalwart of the Proms but is this no too tied with jingoism and wrapped more in the National flag than in an idea of England?

An anthem should be something people will sing, that will uplift and words that speak of town and country,of tradition and achievement. A song that is proud:

There'll always be an England,
And England shall be free
If England means as much to you
As England means to me.

Above all, a song that works:

I can picture football crowds singing this as easily as blazered grandees or dinner jacketed guests.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

As it would be impossible now to creat a set of lyics which fail to offend any sensitive group, the only alternative is a 'hummed instrumental'.

I suggest 'The Archers' theme tune, hummed with Dum-Ti-Dum-Ti-Dum-Ti Dum, Dum-Ti-Dum-Ti-Di-Do...etc.

Good stirring tune, instantly recognisable but with no words to distress the delicates. Solved.