Fascinating Places: “England” and “I Vow to Thee, My Country”
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the Cotswolds, England is a beautiful country. History that is fascinating in that it was one of conquest and Kings of many creeds and diverse morals. Some upheld honor; others took honor away. In a fast changing world, one must look at the diligence in which the people of England stood firm in the midst of bombs and destruction. It would have seemed only reasonable that King Albert and his Queen would flee to safety during World War II terrible times. Yet they stayed and saw it through with their people. ( Another writing will feature Sir Winston Churchill and The Queen Mum)
The famous writers from this country have had their say about their homeland:
There is a forgotten, nay almost forbidden word, which means more to me than any other. That word is England.” – Winston Churchill
“Heaven take thy soul, and England keep my bones!” – William Shakespeare
“I traveled among unknown men,
In lands beyond the sea:
Nor England! Did I know till then
What love I bore to thee.”
– William Wordsworth
Below is a video of beautiful England with the lyrics taken from a poem by Cecil Spring-Rice, written in 1908. At the time, he was with the British Embassy in Stockholm, Sweden. At first the poem was called Urbs Dei (The Two Fatherlands). It says that the Christian owes two loyalties, both to her homeland and to the Kingdom of Heaven. How strongly he must have felt about the place of his birth to write of this. Filled with a patriotic spirit which many people seem to have lost for their homeland around the world, we may learn something from this pointed poem.
While serving as the British Ambassador to the United States, Rice tried to persuade President Woodrow Wilson to give up on neutrality and join Britain in the war against Germany. Finally the USA entered the war and there were huge losses to the British during this time. Rice then changed the title of the poem…I Vow to Thee, My Country.
The first verse reminds the listener of those who died for freedom in the First World War. The second verse says, “And there’s another country...” which is referring to being with God. Taken from Proverbs 3:17, it reads, “Her ways are of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace…”
Music was later written by Gustav Holst in 1921. It was first performed in 1925 and has become a standard music when honoring those fallen in battle for England. Z. Randall Stroope made the choir arrangement and added two more verses to the music in honor of his father who marched in the Bataan Death March.
Lyrics to I Vow To Thee, My Country is found below the video. (Turn on sound)
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.