Jerusalem Lost

April 11, 2008 at 9:18 am 3 comments


So, according to this morning’s BBC Breakfast News (thankfully without smarmy Bill Turnbull, scourge of news presenting), there are plans afoot within the church to ban the singing of the hymn, “Jerusalem” by William Blake. They are doing so on the grounds that it isn’t really a hymn because it does not praise God enough and because, in reality, it is merely a poem meant as a social comment at the time of writing, set to music. They also do not seem to like it because it is nationalistic.

Are they mad!? I must admit that I should declare a personal interest here. “Jerusalem” is probably my favourite hymn. Do not get me wrong, I am neither religious nor a regular churchgoer. I am not, however, without belief and nor do I look down upon people who have a faith in any way. I am still seen booted and suited in churches at weddings, christenings and unfortunately too regularly funerals, and, the occasional Christmas carol service. I also like to visit churches and cathedrals when I am out and about on holiday. “Jerusalem” though, was the official hymn of my university college (Queen’s Oxford), and, was sung at my wedding (it truly was a beautiful service). When it is truly belted out by people who can hold a tune (which excludes myself for sure) it still sends shivers down my spine and makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. It is rousing and emotive.

Not religious enough? Have they not read the lyrics? Firstly there is reference to the possibility of Jesus having visited England in a second coming together with Joseph of Aramethia when they were headlining together at the first Glastonbury Festival. You can read all about it in the Book of Revelation.

Now don’t start me on that whole conspiracy theory thing. The one that goes Jesus was not the son of God but a political leader who did not die on the cross; he was married to Mary Magdalene and they had a child; that the whole Grail Mystery thing is actually a corruption of the term Sang Royale meaning “royal blood” and referring to the bloodline of Christ which was protected at the battle of Masada, founded the Merovingian dynastyin France and ultimately is all tied up with the Freemasons, etc, etc. Or something like that. Go read Holy Blood Holy Grail and you’ll get my meaning.

But I digress. Even if you read Blake’s words as a denial of the second coming it does at least then go on to say that we should build a new Jerusalem in England. Heaven on Earth. That, I would have hoped, was something that the Christian churches in England be they Protestant or Catholic should adhere to and aim for.

And, why would you want to ban one of the few hymns that people seem to enjoy singing? You might as well just sell the pews for firewood right now, lock the doors and give the lead on the roof to a deserving cause. Why does being in church need to be so gloomy and dull? Now, I am not calling for us to get all happy clappy, dancing with snakes, or growing our beards and sitting in circles holding hands and singing “cum by ya my Lord” but at least let the faithful sing something with a bit of emotion, something stirring, a bit of umph.

And what on Earth is wrong with being nationalistic, or should I say, proud of our nation! It isn’t saying that we are better than anyone else. There are no references to disliking the Germans or of bombing Iraq. It just says that we should build something better here than what we have. Amen to that! It is the anthem of the Womens’ Institute for Heaven’s sake.

Rant over…….I guess it must have been a “quiet news” day. At least it was on BBC Breakfast.

ps. Free the Birmingham Two! Karen Brady and David Sullivan are innocent (I hope).


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3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Tansy Whitebytts  |  April 11, 2008 at 11:17 am

    Help is at hand you know.

    You should listen to Wake up to Wogan – it is VERY therapeutic!!!



  • 2. thedailydish  |  April 11, 2008 at 5:26 pm

    When I was a child, my parents were always dragging me to see “Films” (with a capital F). Let’s just say there were very few other 10-year olds watching Gandhi in the theater. The first time I can recall hearing Jerusalem was during Chariots of Fire. I was a child, and yet that song (and the rest of the soundtrack) was so hauntingly beautiful, it’s remained with me all these years. It is too sad that the Church wants to ban it. It makes my spirit soar!

    Thanks for the great post – I enjoy your blog and will check back again.


  • 3. KEITH SEVILLE  |  May 5, 2009 at 8:08 am

    I remember singing the hymn Jerusalem when I was a child at school during their Morning Assembly.
    It is simply beautiful and as one of your other conributors said haunting and I add a very moving hymn.
    For the church to try and ban it because there is not enough emphasis to God is very one sided.



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