When I was a child, a popular hymn in Church of England circles was William Blake’s poem:
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?
(Satanic mills, a reference to the industrial revolution)
Of course, the answer was: “No, He didn’t.” But the majestic music that accompanied it, composed by Hubert Parry in 1916, was soul-stirring, making you believe England was specially blessed by God and consequently, no other country could ever match Great Britain.
To further deepen the patriotic spirit, the Promenade Concerts of classical music, held at the Royal Albert Hall every year, would end with this song set to Edward Elgar’s soaring music, everyone in attendance singing it with gusto.
When Britain fi-i-irst, at heaven's command,
Aro-o-o-o-ose from out the a-a-a-zure main,
Arose, arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter, the charter of the land,
And guardian a-a-angels sang this strain:
Britannia rule the waves
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Of course, England, being an island, is usually green, blessed by frequent rain from the surrounding oceans, but its ability to rule the waves, and the prominence it assumed for itself, has been severely dashed by history.
Last night saw another heavy rain, much of the wet stuff lathering Lethbridge during June. As I look out of my study window, this small Canadian city is certainly a green and pleasant land; which reminds me that God’s grace is not confined to the British Isles, or even Canada.
This Canada Day weekend, is a time to celebrate with gratitude God’s goodness to this country of ours. Even if few acknowledge Him or His handiwork evident around us:
We will praise the Lord.