Wednesday, October 6, 2010

"Jerusalem," "Land of Hope and Glory," and "Knees Up Mother Brown"

From the 'surely you must be joking' department:
  • An anthem switch at the 2010 Commonwealth Games
  • A "month-long public vote" in the United Kingdom
    • Involving a whopping 1,896 people
  • A suggestion from Scotland
The Lemming is not making this up.
"Commonwealth Games 2010: Fran Halsall sings wrong England anthem" (October 5, 2010)

"Fran Halsall stood on top of the podium, gold medal around her neck for the 50 metres buterfly, watching the St George's Cross being tugged up the flagpole. As the opening notes came through the Tannoy she opened her mouth and belted out the first words: 'Land of hop...' Hold on. Has somebody blundered? Halsall caught herself just in time and did a double take, then struggled to stop herself bursting into giggles, clenching her lips tight as a grin tugged at the corners of her mouth.

"It was not the organisers who were at fault – England have switched their anthem....

"...Team England did announce the decision back in May. It just seems no one was listening at the time. They put it to a 'public vote', though the poll was carried out by YouGov, who surveyed all of 1,896 people.

" 'The nation has spoken,' crowed England's Commonwealth Games marketing director, Duncan Lewis. 'The response from the public has been absolutely fantastic and we are delighted to accept Jerusalem as the anthem for England.' It was a majority vote but not overwhelming – 52.5% of 'the public' for Jerusalem, 32.5% for Land of Hope and Glory and only a lowly 12% for God Save the Queen. Presumably the remaining 3% were indifferent....

This reminds the Lemming of a joke about songs getting mixed up. The punch line involved "God Save the Weasel" and "Pop Goes the Queen." Mercifully, that's all I remember of the gag.

Last month, the BBC published a somewhat more restrained article on the anthem switch:
"Grimethorpe Colliery Band records anthem for Games"
BBC Aheffield &: South Yorkshire (September 16, 2010)

"The Grimethorpe Colliery Band from Barnsley is probably one of the world's most famous colliery bands.

"And now their playing will be heard by a truly international audience.

"The band has been asked to record a special version of the well-known hymn, 'Jerusalem'.

"The recording will be used at next month's Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

" 'Jerusalem' originally began as a short poem by William Blake but was later set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916.

"It has been selected as an anthem to be played for English athletes following a month-long public vote set up by Commonwealth Games England...."

Let's see: that's a "month-long public vote" (BBC) involving "1,896 people." ( Oh, boy: The Lemming checked, and the United Kingdom population is around 61,113,205. (CIA World Factbook: United Kingdom) If I'm doing the math right, the "nation" that spoke was about 0.03% of the U.K. population. Putting it another way, that "month-long public vote" involved fewer than half the number of people who live here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota.

The next article gives a little background on what's involved in the song switch:
"Commonwealth Games diary: Now we all seem to be keen to change our tune"
(October 6, 2010)

"SCOTLAND is not the only team to have a new national anthem for the Games. Our change from Scotland The Brave to Flower Of Scotland has been mirrored by Team England, who have jettisoned Land Of Hope And Glory in favour of Jerusalem.

"This change is unlikely to find favour with Prime Minister David Cameron, who is due to visit Delhi before the end of the event. After all, while Land Of Hope And Glory is associated with the Conservatives and has traditionally been sung at the conclusion of their annual party conference, Jerusalem is very much a Labour movement air.

"Perhaps between now and the 2014 Games in Glasgow that nice Mr Clegg will be invited to come up with some compromise solution which will please every right-thinking English person. Knees Up Mother Brown might suit, but give us a day or two and we might come up with something even more apt...."

The Lemming wasn't familiar with "Knees Up Mother Brown." Lyrics of two versions are at International Lyrics Playground. More lyrics and authorship information are at Academic dictionaries and encyclopedias. (A word of caution: Even though Raffi sang one version of the song, the various lyrics may be interpreted in, ah, various ways.)
Finally, what seems to be a comedy of the Monty Python variety isn't the most important aspect of the 2010 Commonwealth Games. Not even close.

The Lemming does wonder, though, who thought they could keep the size of that "month-long public vote" out of public view.

And, perhaps more to the point, why an effort seems to have been made to present the results of that minuscule poll in terms like "The nation has spoken." (England's C.G. marketing director, Duncan Lewis, via

This is the Information Age, after all: and that's another topic.

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