Today was the finale of one of the great classical music festivals, the BBC Proms. One of the traditions of the final night is the playing of the Charles Parry hymn "Jerusalem," based on the poem by William Blake (with the first two lines by John Milton). As this web site says, it's a uniquely English piece, and over the years it's become a political as well as a nationalistic anthem. However, I thought it would be useful to consider the lyrics of the original Blake poem, based as it was on speculation that Jesus once visited Britain as a teenager in the company of Joseph of Arimathea:
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.
Interesting, huh? I wonder how deeply people of today read these lyrics, if they understand the deeper meaning than our political times might give them? I can understand how some, particularly the Socialists, have used the lyrics to justify building a heaven on earth (the Labour Party always speaks of the "New Jerusalem" in their campaigns).
However, I think we might consider, among the "dark satanic mills" of our own times, whether or not we should be building a different kind of Jerusalem, one upon which the Divine Countenance shines, a land on which Our Savior and His works might trod? It's not too late, yet.