Jon Cruddas, champion of the Labour left, has written in support of Jerusalem as England’s national anthem in today’s New Statesman:
Labour has attempted to tackle the question of national identity before. In 1995 Blair described living in “a new age but in an old country”. Then, in 1997, the opportunist branding exercise of “Cool Britannia” took hold. In Brown’s jaded administrative appeal to Britishness a decade later, the search for an overarching national story reappeared. These were all elite expressions of nationhood concocted in Westminster. This time, Labour has to go to the streets. Let’s debate the idea of an English parliament in, say, York. Why not have elected mayors and parliaments in our major cities and give them back their civic identity and vitality? We are a footballing nation – let’s elect the manager of our national team. Then Labour could campaign for a new national anthem – “Jerusalem” – and allow the English to stand tall again.
A hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), “a song of praise”.
In recent years the Church of England has appeared divided over the suitability of Jerusalem for religious occasions, mainly on account of the fact that it is not – in the view of many people – a proper hymn. However, as reported in today’s press (see the Telegraph and Mail), the Church of England have now come down in favour of the singing Jerusalem at weddings, a decision that will be a relief to a great many couples given that Jerusalem is the fifth most popular choice of for CofE weddings. The following is taken from the Church of England website:
Sung in churches, used by various organisations, and having been selected by the England Commonwealth Games team for their ‘victory anthem’, the hymn Jerusalem is liked by many but not all.
The Bishop of Wakefield, the Rt Revd Stephen Platten, said: “The runaway success of the planner shows the popularity of liturgy and hymns and what can happen when planning a service is made user friendly. These hymns, all firmly fixed in our hymn books, are much loved and have a rightful place in Church of England worship and in the online ceremony planner.”
A factsheet by the Revd Peter Moger, National Worship Development Officer, called Singing Jerusalem at Weddings, has also been released, as a guide for clergy. It highlights various ways to build on the hymn’s enduring popularity with churchgoers, various organisations and sports fans to “make a marriage special” and “forge a positive and lasting relationship with wedding couples”.
Whether this is a victory for common sense or a case of the Church bowing to popular and commercial demand is unclear. It’s most probably a bit of both. And frankly, who cares?
An anthem4england supporter emailed the RFU to point out that England’s Commonwealth Games governing body has recently held a poll, involving the public and English athletes, upon which anthem should be used to celebrate England’s success at the forthcoming Commonwealth Games in Dehli.
He asked why the RFU did not follow suit. This is the response:
Thanks for your mail. We are aware of the Commonwealth Games survey as we promoted ourselves on our Facebook site given our 7s team will play a key role at the Games. However we have no plans to change the anthem we use for games as we have always had strong links to our royal family and Prince Harry is our vice patron and we think that is the appropriate anthem to use and our member clubs agree. We realise that others have a different view and we accept that but for now we will stay with God Save the Queen.
Director of Corporate Communications and Public Affairs
Rugby Football Union
The patron of Welsh Rugby is the Queen, and the Vice Patron is Prince William, yet they seem to be able to get away with singing a Welsh anthem.
The Patron of Scottish Rugby is Princess Anne, and the Scots seem to get away with a Scottish anthem. Princess Anne doesn’t sing God Save the Queen when attending Murrayfield for diplomatic reasons, but she belts out Scotland the Brave. She once remarked of the English rugby crowd “I wonder why they don’t sing Land of Hope and Glory instead”.
So what’s the big deal about God Save the Queen and Prince Harry being the Vice Patron of English Rugby?
The following letter appeared in the Western Daily Press on 3rd July 2010.
Jacky Myers (Letters 01.07.10) writes that she is saddened by the fact that the English football team couldn’t be bothered to sing the national anthem with a bit of gusto.
It must have escaped her notice that England was the only country competing in the World Cup that does not have an anthem of its own.
Within the UK Land of my fathers is used as the national anthem for Wales and Scotland uses Flower of Scotland. God Save Our Queen is not an English national anthem but it is the United Kingdom anthem, which may explain the lack of enthusiasm shown by the English football team.
In this and the matter of devolution England alone is, as ever, denied a separate identity within the UK.
On St George’s Day 2010 Commonwealth Games England announced that they would let the nation decide which anthem is to be played at this year’s Commonwealth Games in Delhi by allowing the public to vote for the song of their choice.
Voters were able to choose between God Save The Queen, Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory – with Jerusalem beating the both the national anthem and the anthem previously used for English athletes competing at Commonwealth Games. The new official anthem of the England Team will be played for English athletes on the podium in Delhi when a Gold medal is won.
England athlete Dean Macey, who won Gold at the 2006 Games in Melbourne, welcomed the new anthem, saying: “Jerusalem’s awesome for getting you pumped before competing. Couple this with the huge pride that comes in wearing the red lion and you’ve got the perfect anthem for England’s Commonwealth Games’.
Duncan Lewis, Marketing Director for Commonwealth Games England, said, “The nation has spoken and we are delighted to accept Jerusalem as the anthem for England athletes in Delhi. The response from the public has been absolutely fantastic and I hope they will carry on this level of enthusiasm in supporting the team in Delhi this summer.”
Survey by YouGov of 1,896 entrants
1. Jerusalem: 52.5%
2. Land of Hope and Glory: 32.5%
3. God Save The Queen: 12%
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
In his recent call to celebrate Englishness, the Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, ended his speech with the lyrics of Jerusalem and Land of Hope and Glory (which happen to be the two front-runners in our current poll). However, there are those who would like a new, contemporary, anthem for England.
The BBC and Arts Council England have teamed up to commission a new anthem for England. The result is Sam Dunkley’s Made in England.
I am England, England is inside of me.
I am England, England is what I want her to be,
I am England, I am English, I am England to my core,
And wherever you may find me, you’ll find England.
England Forever More!
England, my England, she never lets me down,
Hustle bustle, urban tussle, dancing through the crowds,
Or out in the country, a fresh place for me to breathe,
England my England is always home to me!
Fish and chips in paper, with mushy peas,
Balti chicken, naan bread and onion bhajis,
A cup of tea and toast, roast beef and Yorkshire pudding,
Tastes of our culture, tastes like England to me!
Swing low sweet chariot, God Save The Queen!
Land of hope and glory and of pleasant mountains green,
England’s future, past and today live in our minds on St George’s Day,
England, England, my country!
That this House believes that it is time for England to adopt an appropriate song as the English national anthem to be used by English sporting teams and athletes; further believes that it is quite wrong that England uses the UK national anthem; considers that God Save the Queen should only be used for British or UK teams, for example the British Lions and at the Olympics, including if a Team GB football team competes at the London 2012 Olympics; is concerned that the continued use of God Save the Queen by the English and the failure to make the distinction between England and Britain is inaccurate and confusing and that not making the distinction between England and Britain actually undermines the union; urges the English people to recognise that British and English identity are not the same and that God Save the Queen is the anthem of Britain as a whole; and calls, therefore, for the introduction of a solely English national anthem to be used on occasions when England, as opposed to the UK, is being represented.
WHAT’S GOOD ENOUGH FOR WALES IS GOOD ENOUGH FOR ENGLAND! – MULHOLLAND
Embargo: Immediate, Tuesday 20th May 2008
Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, has said that, after the Welsh National Anthem was played alongside God Save the Queen at Wembley at the weekend to mark the fact that Cardiff City made the final, it is time for an English anthem to mark when English teams compete internationally.
Greg has written to the Football Association to outline these views.
Commenting on the opening Greg said:
“It is rather odd that the welsh national anthem was used for a welsh team playing in the FA Cup Final, yet the English Football Association continues to ignore the obvious fact that the England football team should use an English national anthem.
“It is time this blind spot was addressed. I am all for Scotland and Wales having their own anthems and using then when appropriate, but how long must we endure England being overlooked or lazily confused with Great Britain and the UK.
“It is time English sporting associations, starting with the FA woke up to this. In 1966 England fans waved union jacks, now they proudly and correctly fly the cross of St George. “
“It is time we made the same logical step with the anthem and left God Save the Queen for its correct usage such as at the Olympics when we are competing as Great Britain or the United Kingdom”.
By strange osmosis, lads too young to remember the Northern Ireland conflict - never mind World War II - still swallow the old England songbook and travel to away games to chant about wars, “10 German bombers” and the IRA.