Land of Hope and Glory
It was great to listen to some of the stirring songs yesterday (Friday) associated with WW2 and VE Day. Songs in war (and peace) help to raise morale and tend also to promote a certain set of values. There are some great examples of songs which celebrated victory and presented a certain view of the world in the Old Testament. A famous example would be when Moses and the Israelites sang a song to celebrate their escape from Egypt: “I will sing to the Lord, because he has won a glorious victory; he has thrown the horses and their riders into the sea” (Exodus 15:1).
I guess my favourite from the war years and after was “Land of Hope and Glory”. Back in 1959 I played this on the piano as part of a school concert. I remember there was a good round of applause - which I attributed to the stirring nature of the tune rather than my poor musical skills.
Subsequently I discovered that the words are thought to be inspired by the thinking of Cecil John Rhodes and his idea of expanding the British Empire because British was best. Not so clever! Still, it is fine surely to have a patriotic song. You don’t have to go along with the suspect politics which might lie behind it.
Similarly with the song/hymn “Jerusalem”. Some people object to this being sung in church because they see it as jingoistic and not in keeping with hymns which are supposed to praise/pray to God. But what would be wrong with the idea of aspiring to build God’s Kingdom (heaven on earth or the new Jerusalem) in England? You could hope in fact that that would be the aim of every country.
Music has played a major role in how wars were lost and won. During WW2 in army camps, factories, hospitals, and homes music blaring from the radio helped lift the spirits of soldiers and civilians every day. Concerts boosted morale.
The songs of that period link us with those who lived and died to give us the victory. We can share something of the mood and the challenge. Music is a powerful force in our lives in so many ways. There is always music to suit your mood or your intention – even as you battle the lock-down.