Saturday, September 10, 2011

BBC Proms: Edward Elgar's Land of Hope and Glory

"Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 in D Major, written by Sir Edward Elgar in 1901, contains the famous theme known as "Land of Hope and Glory." The lyrics were written by A.C.Benson in 1902. 

Here is the BBC Symphony Orchestra, Jiří Bělohlávek, the Czech conductor, along with the BBC Singers and the BBC Symphony Chorus at the closing of The BBC Proms (2010). This piece is typically played at the last evening of "The Proms," and this year is no exception. The final performance of the 2011 Prom season is tonight. Yes, it's stirring patriotism, but one with an internal message that is based on the values and virtues that once made Britain great. You can view the performance here.

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Here are some background notes to this patriotic march:
The "Land of Hope and Glory" is the outcome of collaboration between the composer, Edward William Elgar (1857-1934) and Arthur C. Benson (1862-1925).

Elgar had already earned a reputation as a composer with the two Pomp and Circumstance Marches (1901). The first of these appealed so much to the successor of Queen Victoria, Edward VII, that Elgar was commissioned to compose a work for the coronation of the king, later to be known as the "Coronation Ode" (see below). He worked in close collaboration with Arthur C Benson who provided words for the music.

It was also suggested that a section of the first Pomp and Circumstance March should also have words and become the climax of the "Coronation Ode". The result is the song "Land of Hope and Glory". The Ode was completed in April 1902 and earned Elgar a knighthood in 1904. The Ode was also performed at the coronation of King George V in 1911.
We wish for better times for Britain, one of Western civilizations great nations and liberal democracies. It is fair to say the nation of  Disraeli, Balfour and Churchill has seen better times and  is undergoing some difficult moments in its long history. Nations, like the people that inhabit them, often undergo moral failings. But we continue forward as humans in the hope that these failings eventually become triumphs of the spirit, and a victory for democracy and individual liberty.

Land of Hope and Glory
by A.C. Benson

Dear Land of Hope, thy hope is crowned.
God make thee mightier yet!
On Sov'ran brows, beloved, renowned,
Once more thy crown is set.
Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained,
Have ruled thee well and long;
By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained,
Thine Empire shall be strong.

Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.

Thy fame is ancient as the days,
As Ocean large and wide:
A pride that dares, and heeds not praise,
A stern and silent pride:
Not that false joy that dreams content
With what our sires have won;
The blood a hero sire hath spent
Still nerves a hero son.

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