Jerusalem

For our next meeting on 12th June, Patricia Lewis, Lancashire Federation’s Choir mistress is joining us to help light our passion for singing. What song better to warm up our vocal chords than the theme song of the WI – Jerusalem.

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Here is a snippet from Januarys Hotpot magazine telling us the history of the song Jerusalem:

When the WI was looking for a theme song around the year 1924, Grace Haddow, NFWI vice chairman suggested ‘Jerusalem’. Her main reason was the rousing music. No one could come up with anything better, so the song was formally accepted and has been sung at our meetings ever since.

The tune was composed at the end of the first world war, when with countless deaths and a very uncertain outlook for the country everyone was depressed. The poet laureate, Robert Bridges had found the verses written some 100 years previously by the poet William Bake and more or less forgotten in the years between.

Did the words ‘And did those feet in ancient time’ relate to Blake believing that the power of the rich and aristocratic should be reduced, to create better conditions for the workers in the ‘dark satanic mills’?

Bridges approached the composer, Hubert Parry, to ask him to write some stirring music to go with the words, Edward Elgar later arranged Parry’s music for orchestra. It was liked by everyone including King George V, who, we are told, preferred it to the National Anthem.

It is thought that the main meaning of the verse is that England should be great again with peace, prosperity and happiness for all.

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Don’t worry if you are not able to sing in tune and are a little embarrassed, Patricia has reassured us it’s going to be a fun evening!

Just in case you don’t know the words, here they are!

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountain green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.

We will have copies of the words printed out for the meeting, so no need to memorise them!

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