According to the Guardian's Steve Busfield, England has been engulfed in debate over the anthem issue.
England claimed it's first two golds, in the swimming pool.
But was then engulfed in debate over whether Jerusalem is right to be played as the national anthem. Have your say in our poll.
My congratulations to Fran Halsall on her gold, despite her appalling taste in anthems!
I'm very disappointed to read that the prospect of seeing Jessica Ennis wrapped in an England flag and humming along to Jerusalem is going to be denied me.
England absentees include Olympic track cycling champions Victoria Pendleton and Bradley Wiggins, world gymnastics champion Beth Tweddle, and World and European heptathlon champion Jessica Ennis.
England have been hard hit. Wiggins has won seven Olympic medals, three of them gold, and Pendleton was sprint champion in Beijing. In addition to Ennis, athletes who have snubbed Delhi include World 800 metres bronze medallist Jenny Meadows, World junior 100m champion Jodie Williams, Martyn Rooney and Perri Shakes-Drayton, European bronze medallists this month (400m and 400m hurdles), steeplechaser Hattie Dean (fourth in Barcelona), Gemma Simpson (fifth in the 800m there), and Michael Rimmer, currently fifth fastest among men’s two-lap runners in the Commonwealth rankings.
You'd think these athletes would move heaven and earth to be out in India representing their country at the Commonwealth Games, but apparently they won't.
Waking Hereward has alerted me to the fact that the England's Commonwealth Games Committee is running an online poll to pick the victory anthem for English athletes at the 2012 Games in Delhi.
Mr Hereward helpfully lists the three contenders from which we must choose:
Option 1: God Save the Queen. British anthem and hence really nothing to do with England..... Gordon Brown take note: England is not Britain. Apart from that, the tune is about as uninspiring as a tune can be.
Option 2: Land of Hope and Glory. British imperialistic Edwardian anthem which gloried in the ever-expanding British Empire (especially in Africa) during the country-collecting activities of the late Victorian and early Edwardian eras. Irrelevant to England as the 'Land of Hope and Glory' referred to is Britain. Erroneously used in the past as England's victory anthem at previous Commonwealth Games - in our view totally inappropriately. It really does need to change in favour of option 3.
Option 3: Jerusalem. This scores on all fronts. For a start, it actually mentions and is about England. Also, opinion polls have consistently shown it to be by far the nation's favourite choice for an English anthem. The words by William Blake are nothing to do with invading anyone, nor are they disparaging to any of our neighbours - they just embody what a vision of England could be.
It should come as no surprise to readers of this blog that I support Jerusalem in this particular contest. In fact, for me, there is no contest. Jerusalem is the better tune and it has by far the most appropriate lyrics.
There are those who question the suitability of 'Jerusalem' as England's national anthem. They generally raise two objections:
- Why should we be singing about Jerusalem, a middle-eastern city?
- Isn't it a bit too Christian?
Simon Barrow of Ekklesia deals with both these objections fairly well in one short paragraph.
When writing ‘Jerusalem’, William Blake, the subversive Christian, was seeking to overturn establishment thinking. The answer to his famous question, “And did those feet in ancient time / Walk upon England's mountains green” was meant to be “no”. The question was ironic. The British Israelites had lost the plot. Turning England into a dream of the powerful was mystification. Jerusalem, the city of justice, was yet to be built. Among the obstacles were those “dark Satanic mills” – actually a reference to the upper class learning factories of Oxford and Cambridge.
If you read Wikipedia's entry on And did those feet in ancient time you will be informed that the 'dark satanic mills' are reference to the factories of the industrial revolution and not, as Simon Barrow has it, reference to Oxbridge. William Blake wrote his epic poem in 1804, before the industrial revolution was in full swing, and probably before Londoners like Blake were fully aware of the horrors of the mills of middle and northern England. So perhaps Simon is correct. Or perhaps not. It doesn't matter.
The beauty of the poem - other than Blake's verse - lies in the fact that it is so open to interpretation. Today's 'dark satanic mills' might still be factories, or maybe call centres; or they might still be those same universities, both of which still manufacture much of our ruling class (particularly Oxford), or; they could even be the Westminster or EU Parliament, both being mills of the kind that specialise in the mass production of low-grade legislation. It is still relevant.
Yes, William Blake was a Christian, and his poem is redolent with Christian imagery and myth. But as a non-Christian I have no problem with that. England was built on the Christian faith and is largely still a Christian country. For his time William Blake was a radical Christian, scornful of the ideas that the British Israelites - people like Richard Brothers who declared that the English were the true heirs of ancient Israel - and questioning of the myth that Jesus (the Holy Lamb of God) visited England. He sought to challenge contemporary ideas, he was a radical.
Blake created a whole mythology of his own, in which Jerusalem was metaphor rather than place.
SUCH VISIONS HAVE APPEARD TO ME
AS I MY ORDERD RACE HAVE RUN
JERUSALEM IS NAMED LIBERTY
AMONG THE SONS OF ALBION
Blake's vision of Jerusalem, and of building it again in "England's green and pleasant land", is one that can be shared whether you not you share his particular faith - it is adaptable.
[Jerusalem] stands for the glory of humanity as it was meant to be, and as it was when the divine presence dwelt in it. More specifically, Jerusalem stands for Liberty in the highest sense, the prerequisite of everything else. The divine presence was most fully manifested in Britain, from which all wisdom flowed. Then came the fall (not the biblical one). Humanity was divided outwardly and inwardly, declining into error, spiritual and mental impoverishment, violence. But all was not lost for ever. - Geoffrey Ashe, Offbeat Radicals
So do please vote for it here.