6 Nations Anthems - England

The Sunbury Centre Features area ... Interviews, Player profiles, Coaches: Past and Present, amongst other things ...

Moderator: PaulHP

6 Nations Anthems - England

by Mrs Chicken on Sat Feb 03, 2007 12:04 am

I'm sure you're all bored stiff by verbose nonsense from your resident fowl, but it's not over yet.

To celebrate the start of the 6 nations I suggested to Dom that a series on National Anthems might be a bit of fun. Dom agreed, so I let him go.

It'll be done alphabetically, so we start with England. This will possibly be the longest one owing to the current petitions doing the rounds to get the anthem changed. Any offers for any later ones will be considered, but I've already blackmailed someone to do Ireland.

England.


Image

Unlike the other 5 nations in this competition, the national anthem used for the England team is currently the subject of some debate and a wee bit of controversy. For some time a bandwagon has been trundling about proposing that (shock! Horror!) this here national anthem is a little bit, well, PANTS! The wagon has picked up speed and is now rocketing around the nation inflicting injuries on young and old alike. So what, exactly, is

The problem?

Well, first things first. England doesn't actually have a national anthem. Scotland does, Wales does, but England doesn't. It is represented by the national anthem of the United Kingdom, which seems a bit unfair to me but somehow appropriate in these days of lost identity and national doubt.

Image

Wikipedia states the following;

"God Save The Queen" (the national anthem for the UK as a whole) is usually played for English sporting events (e.g. football matches) against teams from outside the UK (although "Land of Hope and Glory" has also been used as the English anthem for the Commonwealth Games and the England national rugby league team). "Jerusalem" has been sung before England cricket matches. "Rule Britannia" (Britannia being the Roman name for England and Wales combined but also a personification of the United Kingdom) was often used in the past for the English national football team when they played against another of the home nations but more recently "God Save The Queen" has been used by both the rugby union and football teams.

And the origins of the current anthem? Well, no one knows. There are several theories, my favourite being that it was composed to celebrate the healing of Louis XIV's fistula. Writing a piece to celebrate such a thing is bad enough, but adopting it as a national anthem defies belief.

The Controversy

You really just need to listen to it. It is a dirge. A funereal dollop of despair. You can only admire the Queen, really, having to listen to that tripe day in day out without losing her dignity completely and hurling herself off the balcony of Buck House. And that's just the tune. What of the words?

Well, the commonly accepted “origin” of this ear crime is 1745 to celebrate the battle of Prestonpans. This entire saga ended when the lovely Duke of Cumberland, or Butcher Cumberland as he is more aptly known to the Scots, crushed the Scottish forces of Prince Charles Stewart. As if this wasn't bad enough, the ensuing Highland clearances made sure that Scotland was pretty much devastated for generations to come. Really, singing this ditty at Murrayfield must be like throwing a big custard pie in the faces of the Scottish team (and by the way, the Scots will get a ticking off too when it's their turn). And, get this, as this is the national anthem of the UNITED KINGDOM, the Scots are supposed to embrace it as their own as well! What is this – some kind of sadistic pleasure cruise?

Fortunately, the really offending verse – 6, I believe it is – is not commonly sung as the Scots would pile over Hadrian's wall and set fire to Newcastle. But even so. Has the nation not moved on a wee bit since 1745? And should we concentrate on celebrating a single figurehad – her Maj in this case – or should one celebrate that which is noteworthy about the country itself?

I mean, look at the lyrics to the Australian national anthem, of which I am particularly fond;

Australians all let us rejoice,
For we are young and free;
We've golden soil and wealth for toil,
Our home is girt by sea;
Our land abounds in Nature's gifts
Of beauty rich and rare;
In history's page, let every stage
Advance Australia fair!
In joyful strains then let us sing,
"Advance Australia fair!"


WOW! They've got golden soil, and their land abounds in Nature's gifts. It sounds great! Book me the next Qantas flight and make it snappy.

What does the UK have? A song which celebrates an individual. Not the country, not the people, just the monarch. Appropriate, maybe, for the reign of George II (a German, by the way), but 2007?

In a democratic country, is this really getting down with the kids? Whilst Elizabeth II does a pretty good job as Head of State and behaves herself in a manner becoming to a monarch, I don't really feel like singing her praises when the band starts up. It's not just because I'm a republican, it's because it's exclusive, singular and she probably hates it anyway. What about those lovely hedgerows, and real ale, and nuns on bikes, and maypoles, and hayricks, and Midsomer Murders? Could the dirge not be replaced by something which combines Vaughan Williams with Betjeman? Something which, like the Australians, suggests some kind of pride in ones homeland? All of which implies, of course, that an anthem for the UK should be ditched and replaced with one for England. The Scots have one, the Welsh have one – why not the English? Northern Ireland could keep God Save the Queen if they wish, or replace it with something more pleasing.

The Alternatives

The trundling bandwagon invariably offers as an alternative anthem the beautiful hymn “Jerusalem”, words written by the renowned poet and mentalist William Blake. This is undoubtedly the most popular alternative, and was mine until it was pointed out by another LI supporter that it's far too “christian” in it's imagery to sit comfortably with the variety of creeds which make up society. Fair point. It has to be inclusive otherwise it won't work. This is also backed up by a vicar, whose name I can't remember, on a programme about the national anthem the title of which escapes me, who said something similar, but I can't remember his exact words. Those are all the facts you need.

Rule Britannia is clearly a daft suggestion so let's forget it ever happened. All that “ruling” and subjugation nonsense. Move away from the mentalists and shut the door quietly.

I Vow To Thee My Country – rather nice, especially since it ends on a note of peace, but again, perhaps too christian in tone to be comfortable for all. And remember, Jedi are now a recognised religion in the UK and they would not be able to wave their lightsabres enthusiastically to sentiments such as these.

Land of Hope and Glory – take your imperialist, expansionist views and shove them where the sun don't shine. And for God's sake, find yourself some friends and get a life.

There are three other suggestions.

The Monster Raving Looney Party manifesto commits the party to replacing the UK anthem with “Bring me Sunshine” by Morecambe and Wise should the party be elected to power.

There is currently an open petition to 10 Downing Street to adopt “Gold” by Spandau Ballet, as the national anthem.

Image

There is growing support (apparantly) for the replacement of the anthem with “Always look on the bright side of life” as sung by the Monty Python team in Life of Brian.

You decide.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by OxonRob on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:50 am

It seems to me that, if your rules permit consideration only of specified works, which you have already rubbished at length, then each entrant should also be permitted to create their own rules as well!

Thus I submit that the winning national anthem for England has already been published - by Flanders and Swann. It goes as follows:



The rottenest bits of these islands of ours
We've left in the hands of three unfriendly powers
Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot
You'll find he's a stinker as likely as not

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The Scotsman is mean as we're all well aware
He's boney and blotchy and covered with hair
He eats salty porridge, he works all the day
And hasn't got bishops to show him the way

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

The Irishman now our contempt is beneath
He sleeps in his boots and he lies through his teeth
He blows up policemen or so I have heard
And blames it on Cromwell and William the Third

The English are moral the English are good
And clever and modest and misunderstood

The Welshman's dishonest, he cheats when he can
He's little and dark more like monkey than man
He works underground with a lamp on his hat
And sings far too loud, far too often and flat

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

And crossing the channel one cannot say much
For the French or the Spanish, the Danish or Dutch
The Germans are German, the Russians are red
And the Greeks and Italians eat garlic in bed

The English are noble, the English are nice
And worth any other at double the price

And all the world over each nation's the same
They've simply no notion of playing the game
They argue with umpires, they cheer when they've won
And they practice before-hand which spoils all the fun

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest

It's not that they're wicked or naturally bad
It's just that they're foreign that makes them so mad
The English are all that a nation should be
And the pride of the English are Chipper and me

The English the English the English are best
I wouldn't give tuppence for all of the rest
User avatar
OxonRob
 
Posts: 1063
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:25 pm
Location: Dorchester on Thames

by Mrs Chicken on Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:58 am

You would be pelted with all sorts of projectiles if you sang that. Good grief - imagine singing that at the Milennium Stadium. There'd be a riot!

But since the English have a renowned stiff upper lip, you'd probably make it all the way to the end before running away.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by OxonRob on Sat Feb 03, 2007 1:07 pm

Flanders and Swann sang it for years and years and years, Mrs Chicken. I recall very few riots at their concerts.

Now, can we just sit back and think about the whole purpose of a national anthem? I suggest it because I want to know what we are really trying to achieve here. Else, how will we know when we have crossed the finishing line?

In terms of content, its purpose is surely not to entertain or mollify those who listen, but to raise up those who sing it. Thus, it needs to be a musical 'belter' on the one hand, and maybe, after all, there's nothing so very wrong with a bit of superiority? In fact, perhaps it is an essential ingredient?

Actually, I admit it, most of them fall down in the area of the words. By and large, and there are some stunning exceptions, the music tends to be pretty good. One thing about the music. It needs to be memorable and singable - a good tune, that is superior to the musical equivalent of ABC.

You may almost ask whether we need words. After countless repetitions they are bound to sound trite and shallow, aren't they?

But then, you could argue that since Johnny Foreigner speaks a different language, it doesn't matter a lot if the words are insulting and demeaning of him, does it? After all, he can't understand. Oh all right, let's draw the line about being rude to others. In fact let's ban talk of others from the words and say nothing about em at all.

An anthem has to belong. It needs to be ours, not something we share. The words must surely focus on nice things about us, and they don't want to be too long or no one will sing anything except the chorus. In fact that is probably why we all lie safe in our beds at night. No one realises that verse six of the British national anthem actually exists! Or even verse five. In fact it's probably only scholars who are vaguely aware of the existence of verse four!

Right, I have got myself as far as a recipe. Now to chuck in my ingredients.

I'll omit the words for now if you don't mind. In fact I'll get back to you on the words. For if F&S went a little far about the other inhabitants of our wondrous little sceptred islands, of our glorious kingdom, they got the chorus spot on spec, didn't they?

For now I'll content my self with reserving the music for the OxonRob anthem. It will be THE MARCH FROM DAMBUSTERS. Glorious orchestration, flying brass, and soaring melody. It is uplifting and it isn't a forgotten German hymn either. It is wholly ENGLISH, written by Eric Coates! It's hummable and a damned fine piece of music. And what could be more English, more idiosyncratic, than a piece centred around brass band music?

So there.

Words? Now let me think ....
User avatar
OxonRob
 
Posts: 1063
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:25 pm
Location: Dorchester on Thames

by Mrs Chicken on Sat Feb 03, 2007 5:52 pm

I can see where you're going with DAMBUSTERS. It is very rousing. The reason the French national anthem is (IMHO) one of the best in the world is because the tune is a cracker. The Welsh one is also good, particularly the way the very melodic verse, which starts slowly and eases it's way up the scale, leads into a chorus which is not only emotional and stirring, but is a real lung belter. You have to take a deep breath at the end of the verse to really shout out the start of the chorus. There's a bit of that in God Save the Queen (the Send her victorious bit), but it starts on the high note, and then goes down. The Welsh chorus goes UP before going down again. It does make a difference. It's a really beautiful tune, actually, now I come to think of it. The Irish also end on a real belter, although I like their tune less than the Welsh and French ones. But they end with the right idea, definitely.

The Italian one is mentalism personified, but in a good way.

The problem with Dambusters is that it might be a bit difficult to sing along to. It's great for a brass band or as a piece of music, but as a song with words I can't hear any real crescendo in there which requires a good lung belting blast. You need a blast in there somewhere to raise morale and get 'em going.

But you keep going, Rob. You're doing a fine job. She said, patronisingly.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by Shawshank on Sat Feb 03, 2007 7:48 pm

I remember the Argentinian one from the Autumn going on interminably - it nearly stops, then rouses itself into a sudden rousing climax.

I agree that Jerusalem may have slightly too religous overtones, but it is a wonderfully evocative tune and seems to capture an essence of our country - "And was the holy Lamb of God, On England's pleasant pastures seen?"

Of all the Rugby National Anthems I am most impressed by the Welsh - both the Lyrics and the tune have almost Ethereal qualities, and listening to a fine Welsh Male Choir belting it out is truly uplifting, even for an Englishman.
User avatar
Shawshank
 
Posts: 780
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:43 am
Location: In the East Stand

by OxonRob on Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:46 pm

It'd be quite interesting to note how many national anthems had their words and music invented as one, and how many developed independently of each other.

For sure, GSTQ (words) has nothing to do with GSTQ (music) - a hymn. I rather like (some of) the music. Could we not just change the words?

Jerusalem. Words by Mr Blake's son, William. He didn't write much music.

Despite Mrs Chicken's unquavering tones of incredulity we might yet make something of that Dambusters ditty!
Last edited by OxonRob on Sat Feb 03, 2007 11:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
User avatar
OxonRob
 
Posts: 1063
Joined: Thu Nov 03, 2005 12:25 pm
Location: Dorchester on Thames

by Mrs Chicken on Sat Feb 03, 2007 8:57 pm

Get in there, Rob!
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by PeterS on Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:33 pm

New words written to the tune of "Colonel Bogey". Seems about right. Maybe even keep the old words. :wink:
D.B.
User avatar
PeterS
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: The Stables,Caversham

by Shawshank on Sat Feb 03, 2007 9:49 pm

Did you enjoy the England v Scotland match Peter? 8)
User avatar
Shawshank
 
Posts: 780
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 11:43 am
Location: In the East Stand

by PeterS on Sat Feb 03, 2007 10:10 pm

Not a great deal. You couldn't tell whether the new England were really any good because the opposition was dire. Wilkinson was as good as ever at his kicking game. I didn't think he did anything very special otherwise. I was impressed by the way Ellis showed up the poor old Jocks for the journeymen that they were.

The best bit for me was Butler finally standing up to that opinionated, one-eyed moron that shares the box with him.
D.B.
User avatar
PeterS
 
Posts: 292
Joined: Fri Nov 04, 2005 4:50 pm
Location: The Stables,Caversham

by dom_pedro on Sun Feb 04, 2007 9:08 am

Good stuff Mrs C, I can't remember the last time I actually sang "God save the Queen" :roll: .

"Jerusalem" would be ideal if it wasn't so religious.
This cruel country has driven me down, teased me and lied.
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died.
User avatar
dom_pedro
Site Admin
 
Posts: 2718
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 1:20 pm
Location: Dead in the Sea

by Mrs Chicken on Sun Feb 04, 2007 2:20 pm

I've never sung it.

Or even swayed to it.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by dom_pedro on Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:12 pm

Couple of interesting links about England's anthem:

http://anthem4england.co.uk/modules/wordpress/

http://www.billybragg.co.uk/words/words ... cur_page=0

Looks like Billy believes that it should be Jerusalem.
This cruel country has driven me down, teased me and lied.
I've only sad stories to tell to this town
My dreams have withered and died.
User avatar
dom_pedro
Site Admin
 
Posts: 2718
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 1:20 pm
Location: Dead in the Sea

by AlecW on Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:38 pm

Jerusalem - music by Charles Parry... I've seen the m/s - in the Parry Room at the Royal College of Music.

Perfect marriage of words and music, IMHO.

I understand about the apparent religious overtones of Blake's words, but believe me, they were not really intended as overtly "Religious" - more mystic and visionary...
AlecW
User avatar
AlecW
 
Posts: 1173
Joined: Tue Nov 01, 2005 10:44 am
Location: Central London

by Mrs Chicken on Mon Feb 05, 2007 6:57 pm

I like Billy Bragg in principle, but in practice he makes me killy.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum

by Huck the hooker on Mon Feb 05, 2007 10:16 pm

I understand that this may upset a few on this ‘ere Sunbury centre, but this, I would love to see as a national anthem. A protest in true style, but nevertheless, very pertinent.

Don’t click if easily offended.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Pn7u3DAgp8
User avatar
Huck the hooker
 
Posts: 94
Joined: Thu Nov 10, 2005 10:35 pm
Location: Galway bay

by Mrs Chicken on Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:06 am

I am not offended in the least. Splendid stuff.

Sid could have done with some guitar lessons, though. But they managed regardless. You'd never have guessed that Johnny would have ended up as some kind of elder statesman of rock in a "not very scary but trying very hard to be" sort of way.

Bless 'em.
User avatar
Mrs Chicken
 
Posts: 767
Joined: Wed Oct 12, 2005 8:33 pm
Location: The Coop, Venta Belgarum


Return to Features

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest

cron