Last modified on December 4, 2016, at 05:05

Jerusalem (hymn)

Jerusalem (words William Blake 1804, music Hubert Parry 1916), is a hymn and patriotic song that is amongst the top contenders for the title of "England's unofficial national anthem." [1] Blake's original poem was set to music by Parry during the First World War. The poem/hymn speaks of a perfect England of the imagination, but one that could exist in reality if only we all worked together. Many of Blake's references are obscure, and almost certainly reflect his mystical philosophy. Scholars have been arguing over their meaning for 200 years.

Jerusalem is also unusual as a patriotic song in that it is named after a foreign city. It is the official anthem of both the British National Party and the Labour Party, the conservative Women's Institute and the socialist Trades Union movement.[2][3] Since it appeals to those on both the left and the right, it is often regarded as ideally suited as a national anthem. Officially, however, England has no national anthem.


And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains 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 these 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.

Pop culture references

In the 1980s, the British TV satirical puppet show, Spitting Image, featured a spoof version of this song which ended with the lines:

Till we have built Jerusalem
And made it look like Milton Keynes.

Satirical group Monty Python also referred to the hymn several times, including Eric Idle singing portions of the song in between introducing acts from the "Cardiff Room, Libya".


See also