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At the start of the 19th century, William Blake wrote ‘Jerusalem’. In the first decade of the 21st century, it is being seriously considered as our new national anthem. The first two verses ask the questions; did He visit, and was Jerusalem built? Both events in a purely spiritual sense. Well, sort of, assuming Blake refers to the establishment of the Christian church in Britain and Blake is questioning its moral integrity.
What of other religious groups in today’s Britain then? Tell ‘em to like it or lump it? Yeah, that’s gonna happen. I know, torture them until they either convert, die or leave. Okay, that deals with the most obvious problem – getting rid of people who don’t subscribe to Christianity.
Next please, oh yes, the good ol’ fashioned Christian values of loving enemies, neighbours and treating them with respect. Verses 3 and 4 of ‘Jerusalem’ deal with this perfectly. Loads of references to weaponry in 3, and in verse 4, Blake says ‘I will not cease from mental fight / nor shall my sword sleep in my hand’. Taken metaphorically or literally, that’s fighting talk.
England’s green and pleasant land – hmm? Never mind Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland, let’s adopt an anthem that has naff-all to do with them. Aha, maybe we’re down to the nitty gritty now, boys and girls. An ideal way of promoting an English isolationist agenda?
All the above is idle speculation of course and I am probably wrong on every count. On the other hand?
Written by William Blake
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 there
Among those dark Satanic mills
Bring me my bow (my bow) of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spears o'clouds unfold
Bring me my chariot of fire
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my (my) sword sleep in hand
'Til we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land
In five hundred years time, most of us will be forgotten dust. But Hitler will still be remembered, God loves irony.