Well there you go. Just when you start to lose all faith in anyone changing their minds regarding an English issue, along comes Anne Hogbin……
Who’s Anne Hogbin then?
Well she’s the Chief Executive for the Commonwealth Games for England Organisation (http://www.cgce.co.uk). She and her colleagues are currently putting together the England team for next year’s Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
I thought I’d whack off an email to her to (wearily) ask her whether England could have a proper national anthem for next year’s podium presentations instead of the entirely predictable and inappropriate ‘Land of Hope and Glory’
Judging by her reply, there does seem to be a bit of a chink of light there for changing the ‘victory anthem’ for England. I suggested in my email that perhaps ‘Jerusalem’ or ‘I Vow to Thee my Country’ would be more appropriate. You never know, with a bit more friendly persuasion, the anthem might get changed to something that most English people want – and who knows, if it is changed, you can almost dream of it becoming a bit of a catalyst……
I wrote to her -
Can I first say that I am a real English patriot - always anxious to reinforce our culture and way of life to the world.
And that's the reason I've contacted you. I understand that the anthem that will be played again at next years Commonwealth Games for English winners will be 'Land of Hope and Glory'.....
I personally do not like this - Elgar himself hated the words - and I don't particularly think it says anything about England. Also, with lines such as 'Thine Empire shall be strong'.... it just doesn't seem that relevant - has England ever had an empire? I thought it was the 'British Empire'.
Why can't we have an anthem that actually mentions the Country? But doesn't go on about empires and glory and subjugation. How about 'Jerusalem'? - a brilliant tune with fantastic words by William Blake. (Which you no doubt already know).
My personal favourite however is 'I vow to thee my Country'
Words as follows by Cecil Spring-Rice.
to the tune of 'Jupiter' from the 'Planets Suite' by Gustav Holst
I vow to thee, my country
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
These are truly great words to a fantastic tune. Why can't we have this one as the anthem or Jerusalem? Going for 'LofHandG' is just so typically wide of the mark. Instead of glorying in jingoistic waffle and of non existent Empires ....
the words of I Vow to Thee' are classically understated and so moving.
Can someone please get back to me asap about this most important matter and if you couldn't help me, who I could talk to that actually makes the decision..
She wrote to me…
Thank your for your e-mail and your interest in the Victory Anthem utilised by England at the Commonwealth Games.
It is certainly within the gift of each country to choose their own Victory Anthem and as a result of your e-mail I will ask the Council, when they next meet in October, to re-consider whether they feel that ´Land of Glory´ remains their preferred anthem or whether they would wish to use another composer as you suggest.
Thank you for your interest and for taking the trouble to contact us.
I don’t know, what do you think? The reply she’s given me almost sounds like they can INDEPENDENTLY make a decision without the interference of the New Labour busy-bodies….. Can that be true?