According to the Guardian's Steve Busfield, England has been engulfed in debate over the anthem issue.
England claimed it's first two golds, in the swimming pool.
But was then engulfed in debate over whether Jerusalem is right to be played as the national anthem. Have your say in our poll.
My congratulations to Fran Halsall on her gold, despite her appalling taste in anthems!
We Are England, and we will be singing Jerusalem.
As you may have heard England's victory anthem at the Commonwealth Games will be Jerusalem, thanks to a public vote which ended like this.
|Survey by YouGov of 1,896 entrants|
|Land of Hope and Glory||32.5%|
|God Save the Queen||12%|
So at long last England will have an anthem that is English, as opposed to British; an anthem that is national and nationalistic, as opposed to Land of Hope and Glory or God Save the Queen which are jingoistic and imperialist.
This is great news but it raises a problem for the anthem4england website. So far anthem4england has run two online polls, both of which found that Jerusalem was the most popular anthem. A Music Choice poll in 2003 also found that Jerusalem was the nation's favourite anthem. And now we have this YouGov poll for We Are England which again puts Jerusalem top of the pops.
Do you think it is time for the anthem4england campaign to become a campaign to adopt Jerusalem as the national anthem of England?
Waking Hereward has alerted me to the fact that the England's Commonwealth Games Committee is running an online poll to pick the victory anthem for English athletes at the 2012 Games in Delhi.
Mr Hereward helpfully lists the three contenders from which we must choose:
Option 1: God Save the Queen. British anthem and hence really nothing to do with England..... Gordon Brown take note: England is not Britain. Apart from that, the tune is about as uninspiring as a tune can be.
Option 2: Land of Hope and Glory. British imperialistic Edwardian anthem which gloried in the ever-expanding British Empire (especially in Africa) during the country-collecting activities of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. Irrelevant to England as the 'Land of Hope and Glory' referred to is Britain. Erroneously used in the past as England's victory anthem at previous Commonwealth Games - in our view totally inappropriately. It really does need to change in favour of option 3.
Option 3: Jerusalem. This scores on all fronts. For a start, it actually mentions and is about England. Also, opinion polls have consistently shown it to be by far the nation's favourite choice for an English anthem. The words by William Blake are nothing to do with invading anyone, nor are they disparaging to any of our neighbours - they just embody what a vision of England could be.
It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I support Jerusalem in this particular contest. In fact, for me, there is no contest. Jerusalem is the better tune and it has by far the most appropriate lyrics.
There are those who question the suitability of 'Jerusalem' as England's national anthem. They generally raise two objections:
- Why should we be singing about Jerusalem, a middle-eastern city?
- Isn't it a bit too Christian?
Simon Barrow of Ekklesia deals with both these objections fairly well in one short paragraph.
When writing ‘Jerusalem’, William Blake, the subversive Christian, was seeking to overturn establishment thinking. The answer to his famous question, “And did those feet in ancient time / Walk upon England's mountains green” was meant to be “no”. The question was ironic. The British Israelites had lost the plot. Turning England into a dream of the powerful was mystification. Jerusalem, the city of justice, was yet to be built. Among the obstacles were those “dark Satanic mills” – actually a reference to the upper class learning factories of Oxford and Cambridge.
If you read Wikipedia's entry on And did those feet in ancient time you will be informed that the 'dark satanic mills' are reference to the factories of the industrial revolution and not, as Simon Barrow has it, reference to Oxbridge. William Blake wrote his epic poem in 1804, before the industrial revolution was in full swing, and probably before Londoners like Blake were fully aware of the horrors of the mills of middle and northern England. So perhaps Simon is correct. Or perhaps not. It doesn't matter.
The beauty of the poem - other than Blake's verse - lies in the fact that it is so open to interpretation. Today's 'dark satanic mills' might still be factories, or maybe call centres; or they might still be those same universities, both of which still manufacture much of our ruling class (particularly Oxford), or; they could even be the Westminster or EU Parliament, both being mills of the kind that specialise in the mass production of low-grade legislation. It is still relevant.
Yes, William Blake was a Christian, and his poem is redolent with Christian imagery and myth. But as a non-Christian I have no problem with that. England was built on the Christian faith and is largely still a Christian country. For his time William Blake was a radical Christian, scornful of the ideas that the British Israelites - people like Richard Brothers who declared that the English were the true heirs of ancient Israel - and questioning of the myth that Jesus (the Holy Lamb of God) visited England. He sought to challenge contemporary ideas, he was a radical.
Blake created a whole mythology of his own, in which Jerusalem was metaphor rather than place.
SUCH VISIONS HAVE APPEARD TO ME
AS I MY ORDERD RACE HAVE RUN
JERUSALEM IS NAMED LIBERTY
AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION
Blake's vision of Jerusalem, and of building it again in "England's green and pleasant land", is one that can be shared whether you not you share his particular faith - it is adaptable.
[Jerusalem] stands for the glory of humanity as it was meant to be, and as it was when the divine presence dwelt in it. More specifically, Jerusalem stands for Liberty in the highest sense, the prerequisite of everything else. The divine presence was most fully manifested in Britain, from which all wisdom flowed. Then came the fall (not the biblical one). Humanity was divided outwardly and inwardly, declining into error, spiritual and mental impoverishment, violence. But all was not lost for ever. - Geoffrey Ashe, Offbeat Radicals
So do please vote for it here.
Which is the only nation competing to qualify for the 2010 World Cup that, when the two teams line up ahead of kick off, doesn’t have an anthem to call its own? Easy! Easy! England of course. Whatever the Scots, Welsh and at least half the Northern Irish’s view of the Royal Family, God Save the Queen is as much their anthem as ours, so why on earth doesn’t England get a tune that belongs to us?
Of course the Scots and the Welsh have decided that while God Save the Queen is good enough when the Union Jack is run up the Olympic Flagpole for their Gold Medalists Chris Hoy and Nicole Cook, when their football or rugby teams are competing in the colours of Scotland or Wales its time to belt out Flower of Scotland or Land of My Fathers. OK, so Northern Ireland has opted for no anthem of their own, though at Stormont they do at least have a Parliament they can call their own, a subject for another debate.
‘Happy and Glorious’ God Save the Queen goes, and ‘long to reign over us' a line later. Nothing could sum up English subjecthood better. Of course the Royal Family are happy, because they reign over us at our expense, but the argument for an anthem to call our own cannot be reduced to making the case for English Republicanism. However, a song that celebrates being ruled by others put in place simply by accident of birth, and which in not one stanza ever actually mentions England is surely not a fitting tune.
After World Cup 2002 the FA quietly ran a poll amongst England supporters on whether an alternative to God Save the Queen should be considered for international matches. With zero campaigning, and no alternatives offerred, an astonishing 36% voted for change. Nothing came of it, the opportunity to inauguarate the new Wembley with an anthem to call our own squandered, but there remains significant popular support whenever the argument is made not in terms of knocking God Save the Queen but simply pointing out that England should have its own anthem.
And the contenders? Well it would be very New Labour to commission Simon Cowell and Andrew Lloyd Webber to come up with ‘Anthem Idol’ wouldn’t it? It's just the sort of thing Blair-lite Cameron might favour too. But twenty-first century manufacturing of tradition could never match the heritage of the songs we have on offer to choose from.
Each will have their favourites. If I was asked to plump for a modern classic I’d choose The Jam’s English Rose. Haunting, full of longing for a country. But that's probably too up-to-date for most tastes. I Vow To Thee My Country has probably the best tune of the lot but I’m not sure that words written by a Yank entirely fit the bill - although music provided by a Swedish immigrant born in Cheltenham is rather neat. Rule Britannia is rousing enough yet is clearly a British anthem, not an English one in any obvious sense. Some will differ but I also find the singing of ‘Britons, never, never will be slaves’ more than a tad dodgy when the team we’re supporting on the pitch is made up of a fair number of players whose great grandparents were precisely that, slaves. Land of Hope and Glory fails for me on similar counts. Again, with no actual mention of England it is a celebration of the Britishness of Empire, not England. And do we really want a tune that marks England’s fate after Empire ‘By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained, Thine Empire shall be strong’.
No there's one runaway contender, presuming Cowell and Lloyd-Webber failed to find their anthem-factor. Jerusalem. Words by one of England’s greatest cultural figures, William Blake. Artist, poet, thinker. Music by an English composer. The words actually mention England. A bit too Christian? That might put off some, attract others. But of course the Jerusalem Blake was writing about was a better, brighter society we could call England. A bit political? Come off it, who doesn’t want a better England, the argument is only what we might mean by better.
Will it ever happen? I mean an anthem to call our own, not the better England! I entirely back the idea of an English Parliament but right now I would put the anthem, and a day off for St George’s Day too, right at the core of campaigning for England’s place in the break up of Britain. These are hugely popular issues, they carry none of the trappings of Westminster politics currently mired in scandal and disrepute. Yet they codify our difference, our independence and have the potential to appeal to all who call England their home.
Mark Perryman is the editor of Imagined Nation : England after Britain and co-founder of philosophyfootball.com. The company poduces a T-shirt with the words to Jerusalem forming a St George Cross, and on the back for fans of cult 70s sci-fi... well what other squad number could you give William Blake apart from ‘7’. Available from philosophyfootball.com
Philosophy Football are in favour of England adopting Jerusalem as the national anthem -
Whenever England play Scotland or Wales at football and the teams line up for the National Anthems something a bit weird happens. The Scots have their anthem, Flower of Scotland and the Welsh theirs, Land of My Fathers but the English don't. Instead we join in with the BRITISH anthem, God Save the Queen. And whatever our differing views on the perilous state of the House of Windsor everyone knows their realm isn't just this particular part of these islands.
The Commonwealth Games in Manchester muddied the musical mystery still further with England's Gold Medals being awarded to the tune of Land of Hope and Glory. Meanwhile the Ashes victory (won of course by a team calling itself England but actually representing England AND Wales) was celebrated by the singing of Jerusalem.
To our mind Jerusalem is the number one choice for an English National Anthem, and the sooner it is adopted the better, and fairer. Our Jerusalem shirt is a contribution to the cause. Why Jerusalem? It is traditional, it actually mentions ENGLAND in the words (something surely any NATIONAl anthem has to do, and God Save the Queen does not), combines the rural and the urban, and is a song of desire for a better life. Christian? Certainly in inspiration, yet secular in its ambition.
You just gotta love that t-shirt!
England captain Michael Vaughan is backing a campaign, organised by Ashes Test series sponsors npower, to get the whole country singing 'Jerusalem' before the final Test starts at The Oval on Thursday.
The historic hymn has been played before the first four Tests and when Channel 4 play it at 10.25am on Thursday, npower are hoping the nation will join in.
Vaughan said: "The backing of the country is like having a 12th player on the field and the thought of having the whole country singing a hymn as emotive as Jerusalem is something that will get the boys stirred up just as we come onto the field."
Kevin Peake, npower's head of customer marketing, said: "Jerusalem has always been a fixture in the grounds prior to the game to excite the crowds, but we thought that uniting the country behind the team by a national singing of it would be a perfect start to this crucial npower Ashes Test match."
Waking Hereward has a caption competition running. He asks what English football supremo David Davies is thinking here
My suggestion is that he's thinking
'How the hell am I going to get the Scottish and Welsh fans from booing God Save the Queen?'
The problem for Davies is that Welsh and Scottish fans ALWAYS boo the British national anthem (God Save the Queen). And they don't just boo it, they drown it out. Partly this is driven by hatred of the English who are obliged by the English FA to sing the song as their national anthem, and partly it is driven by rabid nationalism and hatred of the British state/monarchy.
Given that Sepp Blatter has ordered Great Britain to submit a team for the 2012 London Olympics Davies has something of a problem. How are Welsh and Scottish fans going to react to their players singing 'God Save the Queen', which is not just the British national anthem but the de facto national anthem of England. More to the point, how will the home supporters (the English fans) react?
The feeling persists amongst Welsh and Scottish fans is that God Save the Queen is the English anthem. But is it the national anthem of England? In a word: No.
God Save the King (as it was then) was first played in 1745, well after the Act of Union to create the British State in 1707, and well after the take over of England and Wales by the Scottish crown in 1603!
Moreover the Queen is not specifically Queen of England since England is not mentioned in her titles, which are "Queen of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Her other realms and territories".
So is God Save the Queen the British national anthem? Apparently not
..it [God Save the Queen] has never been officially adopted as the British national anthem, either by Act of Parliament or Royal Proclamation, nothing stands in the way of its banishment. Tradition is its only ally.
As Wikipedia states:
It is traditionally used as the national anthem of the United Kingdom and of England and Northern Ireland,
But tradition is no obstacle to the adoption of a new national anthem
The tendency to assume that national anthems share immemorial origins is contradicted by a glance at the facts. Flower Of Scotland, which appears to be serving the Scots well (and is doing a brisk business in the sale of bow-ties, braces, decorative tapestries and other merchandise), was written by Roy Williamson of the contemporary folk group, the Corries. Even Land Of My Fathers does not have its origins in the druidic mists. It was composed by a father and son, Evan and James James, in the middle of the 19th century. Amhran na bhFiann [Northern Ireland] was written in 1907 by Peadar Kearney and Patrick Heaney.
So you see, there is absolutely no reason why England cannot have its own national anthem. None at all. In the era of devolution, and with the realisation of Scottish, Welsh and Northern Irish parliaments and assemblies - and the trappings of nationhood that accompany them - and with the struggle for English self-determination, it seems rather bizarre and anachronistic that the English team should have to sing a British anthem. Little wonder that the Scots and Welsh see it as an imperialistic throwback when sung by the English to represent England. God Save the Queen, when sung explicitly for England, is divisive because it is anachronistic and unsuitable.
So what are the alternatives? Well, there are five oft-touted possibles:
- Land of Hope and Glory
- I vow to Thee My Country
- There Will Always Be An England
- A newly commissioned English anthem
For me there can be only one winner, and that is Jerusalem. It is by far the best tune and its lyrics speak not only of England but of making England a better place. Opponents of the song cite its Christian overtones as inappropriate in a multicultural England, and often say that it is 'non-inclusive'. Bollocks. I'm not a Christian and I have no objection to it. England has a Christian history, that is our heritage and the legacy left to us by English generations gone. It is not the song that is non-inclusive but rather the people that object to it.
Go on, have a listen, you know that you want to.
It really is about time that someone came up with a campaign to get a national anthem for England. Oh, wait....they have. In fact more than one person has.