Rutter for England
Today’s big debate is whether we should have an English anthem.
I’m not too exercised by it either way. Yes, I’d argue that there are more effective ways to counter the far right’s usurping of the English flag to a cause with a perverse reasoning about what it is to be English, but then, yes, if it helps people identify with another, more reasonable kind of national pride, then it can’t be all bad.
Well if you think there’s any validity in national pride in the first place, given that nationhood is really simply a reflection of who’s most effectively military power to become your boss……
But anyway, if we are going to have an English anthem, I hereby demand it should be a secularly worded version of John Rutter’s Psalm 23 (from his Requiem). I’d embed a Youtube video if I knew how to do it (maybe Carl will help), but here it is. [Edit: Angela’s taught me how to do it now, so see below]
It’s appropriate because:
a) It heeds but isn’t dominated by England’s Christian heritage and link between church and state, with the secularisation of the wording symbolic of our move on from there to something more inclusive (note its use at interfaith committee thingies);
b) The rewording will allow for something reflecting how England is there as protector (England, my shepherd) of all, and inspires loyalty on that basis blah-de-blah; yup, all a bit state-centric, but then that’s what a state anthem is;
d) It’s appropriately non-warlike, though open to the addition of a soaring string section to make Jessica Ennis cry when she wins gold;
e) Good opportunity for the oboe, a somewhat neglected instrument, to become embedded in the English psyche, in a way similar to the Swiss with their unfeasibly big horns on mountains; the oboe, restrained, authoritative when need be, but not whiney.
f) I’d enjoy seeing if John Terry can remember the words.