In the Spectator’s St George’s Day special George Bridges asks should ‘Jerusalem’ be Engerlund’s anthem?
No. ‘Jerusalem’ is not a hymn for England, still less the Little Englanders…
Yes, I can well understand why the English feel taken for granted, and that the McMafia are taking the mickey. But an English national anthem will not help. We already have a national anthem — one that celebrates the monarchy, one of the few institutions that still binds us together as a nation. Yes, it is official in so far as we call it our ‘national anthem’, but there’s no law that enshrines its status. It’s part of the wonderful jumble of unwritten customs and traditions that make our constitution. Give England an official anthem, recognised by Parliament, and before long we will begin to unstitch another seam of our not-so-green and pleasant land. You can be English and you can be angry. But if we surrender ‘Jerusalem’ to the Little Englanders, those who believe in the United Kingdom would truly cease from mental fight.
The government has responded to the petition requesting that the English national Anthem be changed to Jerusalem, by stating that they will not do it. You can read the response here, but it is copied below
The national anthem of the UK ‘God Save the Queen’ only has that status by convention. It has no official status either by legislation or royal proclamation. Similarly, ‘Flower of Scotland’, although it is regarded in some quarters as the Scottish national anthem, has no official status. Insofar as a anthem for England is concerned, ‘Land of Hope and Glory’ is often played when England play in sporting competitions (such as the Commonwealth Games) against other countries of the UK. However, this too has no official standing. The Government has no plans to legislate on this issue.
So it appears that the United Kingdom has no official anthem.
David Lepper (Labour, Brighton Pavillion) writes:
Thank you for your letter of 21st and 31st October about Daniel Kawczynski’s Early Day Motion on the adoption of ‘Jerusalem’ as the National Anthem of England. I did not support this Early Day Motion.
Personally, I see no reason for there to be a National Anthem for England when there is a National Anthem for the United Kingdom.
However, it does seem to me that any decision on this matter needs a far fuller debate than simply taking sides over a Parliamentary Early Day Motion.
Personally, while I quite like the Poetry of William Blake and find ‘Jerusalem’ a stirring poem, I suspect that there might well be other supporters of the notion of an English National Anthem who might not be happy with that role being taken by a Poem which when it appeared as part of Blake’s longer work Milton, was an attack on the Church, Academic and Literary establishment of his day by a mystic Christian who, it has been argued, subscribed to the Manichean Heresy.
I note that seven days after Mr Kawczynski put down his Early Day Motion another Conservative MP Peter Luff put forward an amendment to replace ‘Jerusalem’ with ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’.
Clearly, both the principle of whether we need an English National Anthem and the details of what that Anthem should be are matters which need more debate by those who feel this is an important issue.
David Lepper MP
Peter Luff’s amendment is here, signed by just Peter Luff. Daniel Kawczynski’s original motion is here, with just eleven names. We face an uphill battle!
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!
UPDATE: I am now the proud owner of the Philosophy Football Jerusalem t-shirt. It’s great, very good quality, and I highly recommend it.