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Tony Grist

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Bring Me My Arrows Of Desire [Sep. 16th, 2015|11:54 am]
Tony Grist
Our national anthem is needlessly divisive.

If I were French I'd have no problem singing the (hair-raising) Marseillaise and if I were American I'd have no problem singing the (stirring) Star-spangled Banner, but the British national anthem commits me to monarchical rule and that's something I'm against. Like Corbyn I refuse to sing it. I'm a Republican. And in spite of everything the establishment and its media would like us to believe there's a a strong, honest and deeply patriotic tradition of British Republicanism. Let's reel off some names. Milton was a Republican, so were Burns, Shelley, Wilkes, Paine and Blake; I'm happy to be of their company. And then there's Cromwell (that very great man) who stands in solid, grim faced, Victorian bronze outside the Houses of Parliament- as a reminder and a reproach.

There are alternatives. The Scots have already adopted Flower of Scotland. Here in England there's Jerusalem. I'd have no problem singing Jerusalem. I'm a patriot, only not a monarchist- and the establishment has conflated the two. Listen, you lot, we fought a war over this issue; which- incidentally-  we won- and we're still here.  It's wrong that a nation of two opinions should have a national song that so offensively promotes the values of the dominant party.

[User Picture]From: matrixmann
2015-09-16 11:50 am (UTC)
Heard a bit ago that even New Zealand was looking for a new motif of their national flag because - as it seems - they wanted to get rid of the Union jack within it.
What that sudden wish is about I unfortunately couldn't catch out of the news article that pointed me to it...
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-09-16 12:59 pm (UTC)
That's true. They had a competition to design a new one.

Good for them, I say.
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[User Picture]From: davesmusictank
2015-09-16 09:40 pm (UTC)
I agree. I much prefer Jerusalem as our national anthem rather than that dismal jingoistic crap that is sung.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2015-09-17 01:40 am (UTC)
You don't see a potential problem with having a nationa anthem about the capitol city of a different country? ;)
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2015-09-17 01:43 am (UTC)
Before you get TOO enamored of OUR national anthem here in the United States... try singing it. It's got a range that makes it basically impossible for a normal person to sing.

Note that we repurposed the tune of YOUR national anthem as a patriotic song of OURS, because it's just easier:
"My country 'tis of thee/Sweet land of liberty/Of thee I sing./Land where my fathers died/Land of the Pilgrim's pride/From every mountainside/Let freedom ring."

It's a TERRIBLE set of lyrics, but it's STILL something we sing, because your tune is easier to sing than ours.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-09-17 08:38 am (UTC)
I tell you what you should have as your anthem- This Land is My Land. Woody rules!
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2015-09-17 11:00 am (UTC)
Yep, that would be my first choice, too. Especially the later verses, which supports radical anarchist communism.
As I went walking I saw a sign there
And on the sign it said "No Trespassing."
But on the other side it didn't say nothing,
That side was made for you and me.

In the shadow of the steeple I saw my people,
By the relief office I seen my people;
As they stood there hungry, I stood there asking
Is this land made for you and me?
All the best patriotic songs as questions about how our country could be better. Accepting things uncritically is jingoism; patriotism is loving one's country enough to wish to work on it.

Edited at 2015-09-17 11:00 am (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-09-17 11:52 am (UTC)
Love those verses...

You're right. Anthems should be aspirational.
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[User Picture]From: akirlu
2015-09-17 06:41 pm (UTC)
It's perfectly possible for normal persons to sing the Bar Strangled Spanner, it just needs to be in a slightly lower key. It's not the range, it's the starting point. There is even a movement to get the key changed.
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[User Picture]From: xiphias
2015-09-17 07:35 pm (UTC)
It's over an octave and a half range. That's not horrific -- my range is a bit over two octaves -- but it's still a lot for casual singing.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-09-17 05:59 am (UTC)
In general it's just weird that England doesn't have a national anthem - because "God Save the Queen" is the British, not the English anthem.

The Danish anthem is wonderfully peaceful. It's all about broad beeches near the salty shores and stuff like that. "Our old Denmark will exist as long as the tops of beech trees are reflected in the blue waves" et cetera. Sure, there's a single "hail king and fatherland" in there, but it's followed directly by "hail every Danish citizen who does what they can".

I remember singing "Jerusalem" on my first day in England ever - as a communal song at the Pride celebrations after the parade. That gives the song a special place in my heart, and whenever I sing it or hear it I really do feel like England can be everything it ought to be.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-09-17 08:41 am (UTC)
Jerusalem has it all- great words, great tune. It already does service as an unofficial anthem. Maybe we'll adopt it for real when we kick the Windsors out.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-09-17 09:38 am (UTC)
There's no reason not to make it the English anthem even now. After all, God Save the Queen is British, not English. Just like England doesn't have a parliament - which is also all sorts of strange...

(Denmark has a national anthem for the country of Denmark - and then the royal anthem for the Kingdom of Denmark, which includes Greenland and the Faeroe Islands. The royal anthem is used in the Olympics when the Kingdom participates as one entity, and otherwise it's the national anthem that's used.)
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[User Picture]From: heleninwales
2015-09-17 10:31 am (UTC)
The Welsh national anthem is like the Danish one then. It praises Wales as the land of poets and singers. (Note, that's the translation. It's always actually sung in Welsh.)

We don't normally get to the final verse about being trampled underfoot by our enemies, just like the British one normally stops long before reaching verse six which is about crushing the rebellious Scots.
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[User Picture]From: sorenr
2015-09-17 11:12 am (UTC)
That is a lovely set of lyrics! And while it makes sense for the Welsh to focus so much on their once-forbidden language, it pleases a language geek like myself infinitely to see language and poetry lauded in a national anthem.

I never quite warmed to the Marseillaise, in spite of being rather francophile. It's just too violent, with blood spilling all over and so on. I prefer the anthems where a country is defined by itself and not by it's struggle with enemies. (The Danish royal anthem, incidentally, is all about naval battles and crushing the Swedes, though of course traditionally the Swedes have won everything from wars to football matches... It has some wonderfully poetic lyrics, though, and is apparently among the oldest national anthems in the world, dating back to 1778 - though the tune may be older. Funnily enough, the lyrics were written for a vaudeville play...)

Gosh, I do ramble on. Sorry.
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[User Picture]From: poliphilo
2015-09-17 12:06 pm (UTC)
That's good.

I'd much rather celebrate our poets than our rulers.
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