Friday, 25 September 2009

William Blake's Jerusalem

The legend that Jesus visited Glastonbury with his uncle inspired the great English poet William Blake to write a poem about it in the early 1800s. His poem is a clarion call to build Jerusalem (heaven on earth) in England. During World War I, Sir Hubert Parry set the poem to music and created the beautiful and beloved hymn Jerusalem --

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 here
Among those dark Satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold;
Bring me my arrows of desire;
Bring me my spear: O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.

Today, Jerusalem is the unofficial national anthem of England. It's often sung at sporting events and is always featured as the final song of the "Last Night of the Proms," a huge patriotic concert held annually in London each September. If you want to hear Jerusalem in its full glory, go to YouTube and search last night of proms jerusalem, then scroll down to the 2009 video -- it's in HD and the picture is very clear. (For some reason, I can't seem to link directly from this post.)

[Painting of "Glad Day" by William Blake]


Judith said...

I love the hymn. The music is stirring. It gave the title to the movie "Chariots of Fire". Somehow one can sing things that one cannot logically say.

mxtodis123 said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing this.

Rue said...

Oh, don't you just love William Blake - this is a gorgeous poem!


i'm on my way to check it out.