One More Hymn

In the update to the Top Ten List below, I mentioned that one hymn I love, which might seem unusual for an America, William Blake’s “Jerusalem.”

Seems Ronald Reagan loved it, too, and partly to honor America’s lately-eroding “special relationship” to England, and to honor his great friend, Baroness Thatcher, that hymn was played at President Reagan’s Funeral.

Also played at that funeral–as it was, very memorably at the Memorial Service at the National Cathedral, after the attacks of 9/11 (and that video is worth watching for another reason)–was another hymn. I don’t know that I have ever thought it a favorite, but there is something about it…

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  • tomg51

    Wonderful – to hear and to sing.

  • Ellen

    From what I’ve read – England doesn’t have an official national anthem, not in the sense that The Star Spangled Banner is for America. God Save the Queen is the one played, but it’s not really official.

    Jerusalem is kind of an unofficial anthem for England. I know they sing it at lots of soccer games. Go to Youtube and look for Emerson Lake and Palmer’s version. It’s great!

  • Kirstin

    The “Last Night of the Prom 2008″ is just grand. Love hearing all those people sing “Jerusalem.”

    All the music at Reagan’s funeral was beautiful and immensely stirring.

  • Joe

    Given that the Hymn is about Jerusalem, it might also be appropriatly in honor America’s lately-eroding “special relationship” with Israel as well.

  • dry valleys

    Since when was it a hymn? I always thought Blake wasn’t a Christian.

  • dry valleys

    Also, it was a bit odd to do it for Thatcher because she would know that the song is sung at Labour conferences. Whereas her party sing “Land Of Hope And Glory”. I wonder which set of lyrics is more wildly implausible :)

  • Fr. Josh Miller

    Blake’s Christianity is as heatedly debated as Shakespeare’s supposed Catholicism, only in a smaller circle. Blake had serious problems with the Church of England, and is said to have carried a nearly self-constructed Christianity for a long time. Many of his works are extremely Christian in theme, to the point that the breviary priests pray contains one of his works in the poetry appendix.

    Anyway, we can be fairly certain that Blake was a Christian.

    Where the controversy comes in is surrounding a potential death-bed conversion to Catholicism; only in his later days did he learn of what the Catholic Church taught and why, and he was readily impressed by it. The debate is over whether or not he actually crossed the Tiber.

    I studied Blake full-time before abandoning English Lit. to prepare for the priesthood. I recommend him to everybody. The crazy poets are the best.

    On top of “Jerusalem,” there’s another song out of England I highly recommend: “Rock of Ages” is great. And no, I’m not referring to the Def Leppard version.

  • Bender

    We sang Battle Hymn of the Republic at Mass after 9-11. Of course, the Pentagon is only 2 or 3 miles away.

  • MGCC

    I had goosebumps during the mass singing of Battle Hymn at the National Cathedral after the 9/11 attacks. George HW Bush was sitting behind GW Bush and next to Bill Clinton in a wonderful vision of national unity and purpose.

    Alas, like all visions, the unity and purpose didn’t last.

  • Maggie45

    The Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung by the Army Chorus during the ceremonies for our Holy Father on the South Lawn of the White House, during his April 2008 visit. I remember his great big smile during it.

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Blake may, or may not, have been Christians, but many Christians love “Jerusalem”, and sing it as a hymn.

    After 9/11, it was one of the few songs my brother and I felt like singing.

  • Carol

    It really bugs me when people try to “correct” the lyrics to this great hymn to make it more pacifistic, or when people protest it being sung at all. It’s a great song with noble sentiment and should be sung as it was written.

    Every now and then a bunch of people will complain about our national anthem, how hard it is to sing, and they want to substitute “America the Beautiful” which is a nice song but not at all inspiring. If they wanted to substitute the Battle Hymn of the Republic, they might be able to talk me into it. Of course the ACLU would have a nervous breakdown….

  • Daniel

    Hola, estaba de visita por tu blog y me encanto debo admitir que has dedicado parte de tu vida a esta maravillosa obra.

    Encontre una palabrita que lleno de Dios…
    Un abrazo desde Monterrey México.

    Tu amigo Daniel

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  • Kerry

    Visit this website: link

    Note the call to pray for the reconversion of Britain to the Church. Note the book for sale at the site as well.
    And to really annoy the relativists, note the absence of screaming Mohammedans in the crowd of singing Britons. Ave Maria, “IHS”

  • bonny kate

    Jerusalem is one of my favorites and I’m not a Brit or a Christian.

  • Sal

    In an article about Great Things about America, one item was that we have 5 national anthems.
    The official one, plus “America the Beautiful”, “America”, “God Bless America” and “The Battle Hymn of the Republic”.

    Okay- I’m trying to imagine the “Battle Hymn” before the baseball game or while the flag is being raised behind the Olympic podiums, but it’s not coming into focua. Sure love it, though.

  • Sal

    The ACLU would ‘fall out’, as we say, over the verse in ‘AtB” about the ‘pilgrim feet whose stern impassioned stress a thoroughfare for freedome beat across the wilderness’ as well.

    I’ve always found “AtB’ quite inspiring, in a quiet way. Asking God to help us fulfill our promise as a nation.

    I missed the last hymn thread. May I add “O Esca Viatorum” and “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” to the list?

  • Rhinestone Suderman

    Oh, yes, “Come thou Fount” is wonderful!

  • Roz Smith

    At the time I noticed a fleeting sour look from some of the usual suspects in the crowd at the National Cathedral, a supressed wince at lines in the third, fourth and fifth verses. I thought isingling all the verses was a very gutsy choice for the recessional at such an event. Indeed, the 9/11 ceremony at the National Cathedral was in some ways a transforming moment for the Battle Hymn of the Republic. I know some in the South who had never fully embraced the work because of its associations with the Civil War. Now they associate it with a different set of battles and admire how it is gloriously non politically correct. Any song that can make Nancy Pelosi squirm in her seat is all right in their book.

  • tomg51

    I agree with Roz Smith 100%.

    I also wish the Battle Hymn of the Republic was sung at funerals. I get choked up and fail when singing On Eagles Wings. Singing the Battle Hymn is just plain inspirational and would be somewhere between singing On Eagles Wings and starting a Second Line.

    Time to update the will ;)

  • Jeanette

    How I loved Ronald Reagan! Showing this video with this uniquely American hymn, the casket sitting in the front of the church, so small and so alone among all those people only reminds me of what a giant he was in life. We are all equal in death.

    God bless America!

  • Gayle Miller

    And when that inevitable day arises – as it does for all of us – will the funeral rites for BHO be as soul stirring and heart wrenching as those for our beloved Ronald Wilson Reagan? I doubt it.

    Bender, you’re growing on me!

  • Obi’s Sister

    The Wilhousky! The Wilhousky! My favorite arrangement. Extremely moving to play and sing (I’ve done both), and even doubled the tenors on the third verse:

    In the beauty of the lilies,
    Christ was born across the sea,
    With a glory in His bosom
    that transfigures you and me:
    As He died to make men holy,
    Let us die to make men free,
    While God is marching on.

    Glory! Glory! Hallelujah!

  • crunchycon

    I’ve loved “Jerusalem” since I was a very small girl in British public school back in the sixties (I was an ex-pat). It’s the hymn I’ve picked for my funeral. As much as I loved President Reagan (I cried for a solid week watching his funeral rites), I picked it out years earlier:).