Given that anthem4england and others have repeatedly warned of the consequences of having the same national anthem for England and Britain, it’s rather amusing to read of the ‘fury’ when non-English Olympians fail to sing God Save the Queen.
Why should they sing something that they regard as the English national anthem (and with some justification); do we ask English Olympians to sing Flower of Scotland or Land of My Fathers?
Rather predictably it was the Daily Mail that was most outraged.
The Early Doors blog provides a rational (non-Daily Mail) perspective (my bold):
1-Singing the national anthem is, and always has been, optional.
2-Singing the national anthem is not a barometer of how much you love your country.
3-How much you love your country is not a barometer of how good you are at sport.
4-One of the things that makes Britain semi-decent is the element of personal freedom. Countries that force people to sing national anthems? Not so free.
5-Olympic athletes are sportsmen, not singers. Their focus should be on performance, not fake displays of patriotism for the benefit of the press.
6-In football terms, God Save The Queen is the English anthem, Land Of Our Fathers is the Welsh one. ED can understand Welsh players not singing the anthem associated with England. Not because they hate the Queen, but because it would feel a bit weird.
7-There was no show of disrespect. The players stood to attention, and didn’t in any way muck about.
8-Hardly anyone was offended by the non-sing, and those that were should have their opinions instantly disregarded as moronic.
Anthem4england endorses the sentiments of Early Doors, but with an addendum to point 6 to state that England and Britain should have different national anthems.
The adoption of Jerusalem as England’s ‘victory anthem’ at the Commonwealth Games has provoked some controversy. Admittedly not much, but some. The Guardian decided to conduct an online poll to determine what the English anthem should have been. Could’ve, would’ve, should’ve… Too late, Guardian.
Our first gold medalist, Fran Halsall, complained that she did not know the words:
“It definitely wasn’t expected, even my coach got a little bit excited about that and he doesn’t get excited by much. It was really nice to see the England flag at the top and two Aussies underneath. I don’t really know the words to Jerusalem, though: I was going to sing Land of Hope and Glory because that’s the one I know.”
Jerusalem was slagged off by Clare Balding and everyone in the BBC studio. Clare read out one of the ‘many’ anthem-related emails that they had received, and the particular one she chose asked “Why is our anthem not God Save the Queen?” To her credit Clare gave the following answer that could have been lifted straight from this site.
Technically it shouldn’t be actually because, obviously, God Save the Queen is the national anthem of Great Britain, it is not the national anthem of England and it would be rather arrogant if England were to assume that it was.
Liam Tancock, England’s second gold medalist of the day, was far more relaxed, remarking that Jerusalem allowed him to enjoy a longer time on the podium than would otherwise have been his privilege with the shorter Land of Hope and Glory.
After the disappointment of the World Cup I didn’t watch the game on TV and I wouldn’t have travelled to Wembley even if I had been given free tickets. I’ll doubtless get behind the team at the next major tournament, but right now I just don’t feel that they’re worthy of my support. Not that I’ve particularly enjoyed my recent visits to Wembley. I find that it has very little atmosphere and the crowd noise tends to follow whatever the England Band decide that the crowd ought to be singing. There is none of the organic, witty and spontaneous singing and chanting that you get in club football and used to get at England matches. To attend an England match is to resign yourself to listening to an hour and a half of monotonous and manufactured atmosphere.
Sadly, and it pains me to say it, I’m in full agreement with this comment on the When Saturday Comes forum (swearing censored):
Oh. My. God. Now the Moron-Inspiring Mini-Orchestra have struck up the bits they know of “God Save the Queen”. Followed by “I’m England ‘Til I Die”.
Are England games at Wembley really, really, this f****** devoid of atmosphere that these c**** are necessary or indeed welcome? I pity the poor twats who’ve paid thousands to have a “season ticket”. Actually, I don’t, they are part of the f****** problem and they deserve what they’re getting.
Ah, it’s the opening few bars of the Great Escape Theme, again, now. For about the twentieth f****** time in the match.
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?
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
Wayne Rooney has been criticised by Bob Peedle, Vice Chairman for Royal Society of St George, for not singing the British national anthem:
“The England footballer does not show the patriotism that I see from other players.
“I can only assume that he does not know the words to the anthem and is just not prepared to learn them.<
“He just stands there stern faced. He sticks-out like a saw thumb and he is setting a bad example to the young people who idolise him.
“In America, every morning in school assembly they stand with the hand on their hearts and sing their anthem, The Star Spangled Banner.
“It is about time we started doing that in this country and then people like Wayne Rooney would know the anthem as second nature.
“I imagine Rooney has never been taught the words and does not know their significance.
“He can’t be embarrassed about his singing voice. He could take a leaf out of the book of the England Rugby team who really sing the anthem with a passion.
“He should learn the anthem and not just because he represents English football but because it is the duty of every Englishman to sing the anthem.
“I’d like to see him know the word of God Save The Queen by St George’s day and I would be very happy to teach him.”
Meanwhile the Dean of Southwark Cathederal has banned the hymn Jerusalem for being ‘too nationalistic’. If Wayne Rooney and the lads sang it instead of remaining silent during God Save the Queen I might well agree.
Astonishingly the Telegraph informs us that Jerusalem is the favourite hymn of Gordon Brown.
Dr Chris Harwood is a psychologist from Loughborough University. He knows all about the effects music can have on the sporting psyche.
“Music before a sporting event can play a part in getting the athletes and crowd ready for the game,” he says.
“God Save the Queen is – how can I say this – very consistent. The tempo and melody is the same throughout the song.”
What we need instead, suggests Dr Harwood, is something which rouses to a galvanising, stirring climax; something to fire you up.
What we want, he says, is a tune with a bold rhythm; a song with qualities that represent the toil of the forthcoming battle.
“I would agree that God Save the Queen, from a musical point of view, is not very inspiring,” he says.
“The tempo and melody are simply not very good. I would have thought Land of Hope and Glory and/or Jerusalem are lyrically more suitable and musically more inspiring.”
The Advocate concludes with a statement that is not so far away from the thinking behind this site.
Is it too much to ask that we drop this irrelevant, tuneless, dumb and offensive piece of music for something that actually works: a tune that represents England, all that’s great to be English – and something which gets the hairs on the back of your neck standing to attention when it’s given a public outing?
Everyone knows the Devil has the best tunes.
This Devil wouldn’t object to Jerusalem. That would do. Land of Hope and Glory? Yep, we’d settle for that, too.
We’d even swap it for Don’t Stop Me Now, by Queen, or Gercha, by those stalwarts of Englishness, Chas and Dave. It can’t be any worse than what we have at the minute.
But we have to move quickly. There’s a World Cup looming. And if we’re stuck with this dreadful old dog of a song, then God Save The Team.
During the World Cup, supporters were all fed up with having to sing the British anthem when we were supporting England. Why couldn’t we have our own song like the Scots?
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.