It’s Sunday

LIBERTY, November 18, 2012 – Today is Sunday and below is a famous British Hymn, “I Vow to Thee My Country.” This hymn is regularly sung at services involing the Royal Family including the wedding of Prince Charles to Princess Diana.

The origin of the lyric is a poem by diplomat Cecil Spring-Rice which he wrote in 1908 whilst posted to the British Embassy in Stockholm. In 1921 Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets to create a setting for the poem. The music was extended slightly to fit the final two lines of the first verse. At the request of the publisher Curwen, Holst made a version as a unison song with orchestra. This was probably first performed in 1921 and became a common element at Armistice memorial ceremonies, especially after it was published as a hymn in 1926. Holst harmonised the tune to make it usable as a hymn, which was included in Songs of Praise in 1926 with the same words, but the tune was then called Thaxted (named after the village where Holst lived for many years). The editor of the new (1926) edition of Songs of Praise was Holst's close friend Ralph Vaughan Williams, which may have provided the stimulus for producing the hymn.

Holst's daughter Imogen, recorded that "At the time when he was asked to set these words to music, Holst was so over-worked and over-weary that he felt relieved to discover they 'fitted' the tune from Jupiter".

 

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.


I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.


And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

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