Apr 13, 2016

I Vow to Thee, My Country

via Western Spring

Those who know me will be aware that I am not a Christian in terms of my religious beliefs, although I would claim to be culturally Christian in that I was raised within a nominally Christian family at a time when that religion had a much more prominent a solid position within our society.


The England of my youth was a country steeped in Christian tradition, and in which almost everyone was at least nominally Christian, if not devoutly so.

Every school day began with assembly at which the whole school, masters and pupils alike were led in Christian worship, reciting the Lord’s Prayer and singing a selection of hymns, the tunes and refrains from which have become indelibly imprinted in my memory.


One such tune was composed by Gustav Holst and features in the ‘Jupiter’ movement of his suite, ‘The Planets’. In 1921 Holst wrote a modified version of that original melody, which he renamed ‘Thaxted’ after the village in which he spent much of his life, so that the tune could be combined with a poem by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice to create the patriotic hymn, ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’.


The following is a seemingly amateur and unpolished version of Holst’s tune, but one that I find engaging in its sincerity and one that reminds me of my old school assemblies with the music mistress doing her best on an old upright piano. I hope it is as evocative for you as it is for me.


Sir Cecil Spring-Rice was born into an aristocratic family during the 1800’s, he joined the Foreign Office in 1882 and spent his career travelling the world as a diplomat during the period the British Empire was at its height, and at a time when devotion to one’s country, one’s nation and one’s people were synonymous in peoples’ minds and when the willingness to sacrifice oneself in battle if necessary, in order to further the greatness of one’s nation was the accepted norm.
 
When I was conducting some research recently, I rediscovered ‘I vow to Thee My Country’ and also discovered something that I was completely unaware of regarding that familiar hymn.


At school, that hymn was always sung in two verses; the first evoking feelings of patriotism and the willingness to sacrifice oneself; and the second directing those feelings towards Christian devotion and the spiritual struggle to establish the kingdom of God, of gentleness and peace, as follows: 

I Vow to Thee My Country:

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.

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.


What I discovered recently is that the above two verses are in fact the first and third verses of the original hymn and that the second verse is no longer sung because it is regarded as politically incorrect. The second verse reinforces the patriotic feeling aroused by the first verse and both emphatically and unashamedly asserts the warrior tradition that made Britain great.


As I have already stated, I am not a practicing Christian and the third verse of Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s hymn does not appeal to me. My feeling is that the first two verses of ‘I Vow to Thee My Country’ make a fine patriotic song that is a veritable call to arms and as such I would propose the adoption of the following version of the hymn as an anthem for our movement. Minus the third verse, it has no Christian connotations, and if we interpret the word ‘country’ as was originally intended, as a synonym for ‘nation’ and ‘people’, the song resulting has the potential to stir and be universally accepted by White nationalists of all persuasions.


Please play this video as you read the words below, I guarantee you will be stirred by the experience.




I Vow to Thee My Country:


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 around 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.

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