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I vow to thee, my country

Yesterday, while we were sitting outside, James Baxendale, a Brit who has made his home in Oregon, played this hymn for me on his phone. Katherine Jenkins is singing. In this version the second verse has been omitted. Cecil Spring-Rice, British Ambassador to the United States, wrote the lyrics with the losses of World War One in mind. Gustav Holst set the lyrics to achingly beautiful music. It was played at the wedding and at the funeral of Diana, Princess of Wales. The lyrics have recently come under attack.

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.

Comments (4)

Larry Sheldon:

Well. Once again the dismal state of my education is exposed.

I've never heard, nor heard of that song before.

What is its history, and what is the controversy?

Don't worry, I no longer expect the controversy to make any sense.

A beautiful song, by the way.

And what delightful evidence the talented women with beautiful voices don't have to be ugly.

jlh:

Who objects to the lyrics? Other than Eurowimps?

wisconsin Anglophile :

I have long known the Holst tune but was unaware of the lyrics. So beautifully moving, especially when one knows something of the history behind its composition.

Near the gate of the college I attended there is a sculpture with the legend:
"Dulce et decorum pro patria mori."

Not a popular sentiment nowadays.

I loved the song and all things British.

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