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Anthems

February 14, 2011

The New Statesman offers a suggestion that the US should abandon The Star-Spangled Banner as its national anthem and revert to its pre 1931 use of My Country ‘Tis of Thee. It argues this on the basis that the current version suffers from tortuous sentence construction and ranges over one and a half octaves; net result it is difficult to sing and its not surprising that Christina Aguilera should make a mess of it. It also suggests that a song which contains trees, rocks and words might induce a more ecologically aware awareness than once based on battles, blood and bombs.

It reminded me of one of the current travesties by which English Sporting teams use the UK&NI national anthem while Scotland and Wales use their own and Ireland is complex. Now as a confirmed republican (with a small “r”) I have no desire to claim any ownership of God save the Queen but the fact remains that unless and until Scotland and Wales are granted independence the English have no claim to it. The Scots used to have to play it and their own supporters howled it down until finally the move was made to Flowers of Scotland.

That does of course leave open the question of what is a suitable English national anthem.   Swing low while sung by their fans could hardly be used without excessive irony. Using a negro spiritual for a nation that built its wealth and empire on slavery would involve too great an irony. Jerusalem is the obvious candidate. Or maybe we should leave them with the royal family and create a celtic free trade area? Enough, I have been traveling for thirty hours and am finally settled into a hotel on the Gold Coast, ready for three heavy days discussing causality in social systems. Serious blogging will restart tomorrow.

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