Who wrote and composed the hymn ‘Jerusalem’?
Jerusalem‘s rousing lyrics, opening with the famous line ‘And did those feet in ancient time‘, were written by the poet William Blake in around 1808. Blake was inspired by the legend of Jesus visiting England, in particular Glastonbury, with relative Joseph of Arimatheia. In 2009 this legend was explored in the documentary ‘And Did Those Feet’.
Over a century later in 1916, composer Hubert Parry set the poem to music to raise Britain’s morale as life was bleak with World War One raging and casualties mounting.
Today it is often proposed as an alternative national anthem for England instead of ‘God Save The Queen’, and is often used to celebrate English achievements in sporting events such the Commonwealth Games.
What are the lyrics to ‘Jerusalem’?
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark Satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold:
Bring me my arrows of desire:
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire.
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
Why is ‘Jerusalem’ sung at Women’s Institute meetings?
The hymn came to be associated with the Women’s Institute (WI) because of suffragette Millicent Fawcett. She asked if it could be used for the Women’s Sufferage Movement and in 1918 a band of women sung the hymn at a suffrage rally taking place at the Royal Albert Hall.
Then in the early 1920s one of the founders of the WI, and fellow suffragette, Grace Hadow came up with the idea of using the hymn as the WI’s anthem. In 1924 it was officially adopted, and has now been sung by WI members for nearly a century…
Find more lyrics to more famous hymns here