By Hannah Strange
It is one of the nation's best loved hymns and a favourite of Gordon Brown's. But William Blake's "Jerusalem" will no longer ring from the spires of Southwark Cathedral after it was banned by the church's dean on the grounds that it was unchristian and too nationalistic.
Regarded by many as a paean to Englishness, it has over the centuries become an unofficial national anthem, sung at the last night of the Proms and by England rugby and cricket fans. It is such a favourite of the Women's Institute that a recent BBC drama based on the group was titled "Jam and Jerusalem."
But the Very Reverend Colin Slee believes it is not "to the glory of God" and as such should not be sung by choirs or congregations at the South Bank cathedral, one of Britain's foremost churches.[....]
"The Dean of Southwark does not believe that it is to the glory of God and it is not therefore used in private memorial services."
The words of the hymn are a poem by William Blake, which starts: "And did those feet in ancient time/ Walk upon England's mountains green?"
The verses, written in 1804 as a preface to Blake's epic poem "Milton", are said to be based on a legend that Jesus Christ came to England as a young boy and visited the Somerset town of Glastonbury. It is linked to a section in the Book of Revelation describing a Second Coming in which Jesus establishes a new Jerusalem.
The idea of Jerusalem is often used as a metaphor for Heaven by the Christian Church, particularly the Church of England. Though interpretations of the poem differ, it is often seen as suggesting that Jesus briefly created heaven in England and that we should strive to re-establish this once more. The reference to "dark Satanic mills" is usually thought to allude to the early industrial revolution and the damage it wreaked on nature and the poorest sections of society.
The words were set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916, as an anthem for the suffragettes' movement.
It is not the first time the hymn has been deemed unchristian by the clergy.
In 2001 it was banned from a Manchester wedding ceremony because the vicar thought it overly nationalistic and inappropriate to the occasion.
Meanwhile the parish church of Parliament, St Margaret's in Westminster, has excluded it from services in the past on the grounds that the "dark satanic mills" discriminated against city-dwellers.
For much of the 1990s it was banned by St Paul's Cathedral but the church has now relented.[....]
I think this would be a directive from the same Church of England that recently announced the inevitaility of sharia in Britain and the need for British accommodation with it. Fine that, but none of that Blake.
For Blake's poem and a lovely backdrop by Bruegel, click HERE.