During the World Cup we were treated to a plethora of national anthems.
I was secretly gutted when France were knocked out as there are few more rousing than La Marseillaise.
It makes you ponder why we have them, though. There are very few – if any – countries in the world that don’t and I wonder at what point they were deemed essential.
When a king or conqueror is setting up the boundaries for their brave new world, is something with a sing-a-long chorus one of the basics?
God Save the Queen (or King of course) was written in the mid 1700s. We don’t know who composed the music, but the lyrics were penned by Henry Carey half a century later.
In America the same tune is also used for a patriotic song – My Country, Tis of Thee – which sounds rather odd.
The Commonwealth Games has added an interesting twist to the national anthem debate.
It’s the biggest event in which the home nations use something other than God Save the Queen. England choose Jerusalem, Scotland go for Flower of Scotland, Wales Land of my Fathers and Northern Ireland Danny Boy. They’re all pieces that get the crowd singing with gusto, with lyrics and sentiment that are relevant to the land they are representing.
I’m not suggesting that after 400 years we should replace God Save the Queen with one of the above, or even replace it at all. Hearing a selection of different anthems over the past month or so has just got me wondering if there was something with a bit more oomph that we could all rally behind.
We often hear suggestions of Rule Britannia or Pomp and Circumstance. How about I Vow to Thee My Country?
Its tune is the finest piece of music ever written – Jupiter by Holst – and the lyrics are inspiring. I’d be interested to read what you think.