The following is an extract from the “Daily Mail” of Friday 13th August, 2004, written by Andrew Roberts.It was first posted on the old Drive The Flag website in 2004.
The Rt. Rev. Stephen Lowe (above), the Suffragan Bishop of Hulme, has called for the much loved hymn, “I Vow To Thee My Country” to be banned from church services on the grounds that it is heretical.
He stated on Radio 4’s “Today” programme that the hymn, “…puts God secondary to country” , and thus has “…echoes of 1930’s nationalism in Germany and the nastier aspects of Right-wing republicanism in the United States.”
So have we all been singing a fascist song in our churches for over 80 yearts ? Is this immensely popular hymn, played both at Princess Diana’s wedding and her funeral, really something of which to be ashamed ?
Fortunately, the answer is an emphatic “No”. A close reading of the actual words employed by the hymn’s author, Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, and a glance at the historical context in which they were written shows that the bishop is wildly and pathetically mistaken. The hymn is, in fact, a patriotic, heartfelt and deeply moving explanation of the need for the sacrifice of 767,000 young men from the British Empire in the Great War, ad nothing at all to do with nationalism. The bishop’s statement that the hymn puts God secondary to country is utter nonsense. Yes, the first line states that the country is above “all earthly things” – an understandable sentiment given the terrifying threat from Germany – but certainly not above all heavenly things.
Indeed, the hymn refers rapturously to Heaven, calling it “another country” whose “fortress is a faithful heart” and whose ways are of “gentleness” and “peace “. For despite the slaughter and the horrors of the conflict, peace is the ultimate goal.
But then, not only has the bishop woefully misinterpreted the words, he also completely ignores the desperate circumstances in which they were written, and the character of the great man who wrote them.
Sir Cecil Spring-Rice (1859-1918) had been British ambassador to Washington since 1912, where history relates how “his tact and forbearance, and anxiety to meet any legitimate grievance, were deservedly appreciated” during the Great War.
Below is the “Daily Mail’s” version of, “I vow to thee my country” – Words by LeoMcKinstry;
I vow to thee my country,
the things despised by Blair,
Freedom, truth, integrity,
those virtues now so rare.
We live in times of twists and lies,
of government by spin,
Where the greatest crime for citizens, is love of kith and kin.
Where taxes keep on rising
for decent, law-abiding folk.
Where sovereignty is vanishing
under Brussels’ heavy yoke.
- – - -
All hail to thee, oh Tony,
Prime Minister divine,
Creator of New Labour
and the Britain of our time.
We dare not ask the questions
that help us to reflect
How the country lost its soul
to what’s politically correct.
We’re becoming a nation broken,
our spirit ever weaker,
Held to ransom by burglar, thug and asylum seeker.
- – - -
They tell us there’s more money
for schools and NHS,
But with those bureaucrats to pay
the system’s still a mess.
In anarchic modern Britain,
violence rules the street;
The bobby who used to keep us safe
has made a tactical retreat.
Terrorists are in our midst,
they have us in their sights,
But the Government’s priority
is to protect their human rights.
- – - -
But there was another country,
that flourished long ago, A Britain that was proud and free,
one you wouldn’t know.
It was a gentle nation,
its people brave and bright,
A country that knew its worth
and had the will to fight,
To preserve its own culture,
that stood for what was best,
In the green and pleasant land,
knowing it was blest.