Hymn to her?

I’ve lived in London for twenty five years now and occasionally I fall asleep listening to the radio at night only to be woken up at some god forsaken hour as the radio station closes down by playing the national anthem. Now, I don’t know about you lot but I think the English national anthem, God Save The Queen, is a right dirge, it’s completely uninspiring and instead of feeling uplifted I want to leave this country. Perhaps that’s the plan.

It’s a throw back to the times when Britain really did rule the waves and the King/Queen actually did have some power but the glory days of the British Empire are long gone and this needs updating to reflect who Britain is today.

God save our gracious Queen,
Long live our noble Queen,
God save the Queen:
Send her victorious,
Happy and glorious,
Long to reign over us:
God save the Queen.
O Lord, our God, arise,
Scatter her enemies,
And make them fall.
Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,
On Thee our hopes we fix,
God save us all.
Thy choicest gifts in store,
On her be pleased to pour;
Long may she reign:
May she defend our laws,
And ever give us cause
To sing with heart and voice
God save the Queen

Some wonderful lines are in there, like “Thy choicest gifts in store,On her be pleased to pour” yeah, like the richest woman in the world, a trillionaire, needs more gifts.

It really should be renamed Hymn To Her but The Pretenders have already got that one.

I once went to see ELO in concert in Earls Court, London, yes, I am that old, (and sad) and they had the London Philharmonic Orchestra with them. During one song they segwayed from Roll Over Beethoven into the national anthem (unbelievably). This was fine for the first chorus until the conductor stopped the orchestra and turned to us, the audience, to carry on singing the rest of the anthem by ourselves. Of course not a soul actually knew the words, so 12,000 people hummed awkwardly through the remaining verses and got quieter and quieter, much to the disgust of the conductor who apparently was taught every single word at school.. it was certainly the quietest I’ve ever been, and not a pretty sight.

God Save The Queen is not well know here, at least by my generation and anyone younger, I don’t know anyone who actually knows the words past ‘God save our gracious Queen’ and I suspect a large proportion of Americans can’t get past their own first verse too, despite it being sung at at major sporting events.And I’ve noticed that every time the television camera zooms along the players line-up at footie matches most of England’s players keep their mouths resolutely shut during the pre-match singing of the national anthem. Today, sport is virtually the only arena in which the national anthem is both regularly heard and sung with some degree of emotional content.

And even there, of course, it is summoned only in support of one section of the United Kingdom (England), the whole of which it purports to represent. When Wales, Scotland or Ireland are taking part in a Six  Nations rugby match or an international football match, the players join in Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau (Land Of My Fathers), Flower of Scotland, or Amhran na bhFiann (The Soldier’s Song), emphasising their independence..particularly when playing against England..teeheehee!

Since it has never been officially adopted as the British national anthem, either by Act of Parliament or Royal Proclamation, nothing stands in the way of its banishment. Tradition is its only ally. The English are stuck with a composition used in the past by Denmark, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland and it also shares its tune with the national anthem of Liechtenstein, a phenomenon whose moment of destiny arrives almost every year when the footballers of the two nations met at football. So good they played it twice? Not when you are a member of the crowd and don’t know who’s anthem they are playing, yours or Liechtenstein. God Save The Queen is not a song that improves with familiarity.

And I don’t know of any country that has a pleasing anthem but I’d like to suggest that England changes it dreary national anthem to something quintessentially English and instantly recognisable by everyone in this land, a tune that makes you want to get up and dance around the maypole, for that’s what it was wrote for, a tune that motivates you to get out of your bed and be happy, and it’s the theme music from the BBC’s longest running soap opera, listened to by millions each day, yes, of course it’s The Archers;

and if that doesn’t get you up and at ’em then I’d like to suggest this one as an alternative.

I feel I should own up to the fact that I – along with most of the rest of the population don’t actually know the Irish national anthem either. When I first arrived in London a horde of us went to the infamous Swan pub in Stockwell to strut our funky stuff in the club upstairs. It’s an excellent place if you want to be stabbed or hit over the head with a bottle or two, pretty rough and it was no co-incidence that it was frequented solely by Irish. What with five stabbing that night (it was a quiet night) we all had a great time dancing away and getting smashed right up to 2am when the DJ said goodnight by playing the national anthem. And this god awful cat’a’wailing came blasting out of the speakers and I looked at my mates and we sniggered and I said ‘fuck me, he’s got that tape on at the wrong speed, you’d think he’d fix it and speed it up, it sounds nothing like God Save The Queen’ where-upon the bloke standing beside me shouted in my ear that it was the IRISH national anthem and to STFU if I wanted to walk out alive! oooeeerr! The worse possible national anthem rendition in my humble opinion is this effort below, when you think ‘national anthem’ you think low, growly, gravely, fairly rangeless voices, don’t you? and you’d be spot on;

and THIS is one brave woman, Roseanne Barr, I’m not sure even the London Leprechaun with his balls of steel would attempt this in a country with as many guns as America.

and the best ever, IMHO is South Africa’s