I Vow to Thee, My Country

I Vow to Thee, My Country is a British patriotic song created in 1921 when a poem by Cecil Spring-Rice was set to music by Gustav Holst.


The origin of the lyrics is a poem by diplomat Cecil Spring-Rice which he wrote in 1908 whilst posted to the British Embassy in Stockholm. Then called "Urbs Dei" or "The Two Fatherlands", the poem described how a Christian owes his loyalties to both his homeland and the heavenly kingdom. The first verse, as then written, had a direct and heated patriotism of a kind which has become less popular since the First World War.

In 1912, Spring-Rice was sent to Washington, D.C. as Ambassador to the United States of America where he worked to influence the administration of Woodrow Wilson to abandon neutrality and join Britain and her Empire in the war against Germany. After the Americans entered the war, he was recalled to Britain. Shortly before his departure from the US in January 1918, he re-wrote and renamed "Urbs Dei", significantly altering the first verse to concentrate on the huge losses suffered by British soldiers during the intervening years.

The first verse is a reference to EnglandFact|date=June 2008 and the sacrifice of those who died during the First World War. The last verse, starting "And there's another country", is a reference to heaven. The final line is based on Proverbs 3:17, which reads in the King James Bible, "Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace."

Tune "Thaxted"

In 1921 Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of "Jupiter" from his suite "The Planets" to create a setting for the poem. The music was extended slightly to fit the final two lines of the first verse; the resulting hymn tune is usually referred to as "Thaxted" (named after the village where Holst lived for many years). This was first performed in 1925 and became a common element at Armistice memorial ceremonies. [cite web
title=I Vow To Thee My Country
publisher=G4 Central


:I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,:Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love;:The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,:That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;:The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,:The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

:I heard my country calling, away across the sea,:Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.:Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,:And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.:I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,:I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

:And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,:Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;:We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;:Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;:And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,:And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.

The lyrics as usually sung omit the middle verse as not being suitable for modern use. [ [http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/rulebritannia.html British Imperialistic Anthems] in the "Modern History Sourcebook", by Paul Halsall, 1998] [Cite web
author=Purves, Libby
title="I vow to thee my country..."
work=Faith Central
publisher= [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/ Times Online]

Contemporary religious use

* It is associated with Remembrance Day services in the UK and in Canada.cite news |title=The sound of silence |publisher=BBC News |date=2005-11-14 |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/magazine/4429278.stm|accessdate=2007-04-20]
* Diana, Princess of Wales, requested that this hymn be sung at her wedding in 1981, saying that it had "always been a favourite since schooldays". It was also sung at her funeral in 1997 and her ten-year memorial thanksgiving service in 2007.
* It was quoted by Margaret Thatcher in 1988 in her Sermon on the Mound to the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
* In August 2004, the Rt Revd Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme, called for it not to be used in Church of England services, calling it "totally heretical". [cite news
title=Ban this racist hymn, says bishop
publisher=Daily Telegraph
] His view that it placed national loyalties above religious ones, and encouraged racism and an unquestioning support of governments, opened a debate on its wider implications. [cite news
author=Today programme
authorlink=Today programme
title=I Vow To Thee My Country
publisher=BBC Radio 4
] [cite news
title=Patriotism and Sacrifice
publisher=Diocese of Oxford Reporter

Commercial uses

*The song appears in "Voice of an Angel", the debut album of Charlotte Church. It also appears in the album "G4 & Friends" by the X Factor group G4. It also features on Libera's 2003 album "Free".
*After winning the 2005 Ashes the English cricket team did backing vocals for the song, sung by Keedie, as a B-side to the cricketing favourite "Jerusalem".
*The song is also featured in the Katherine Jenkins album "Living a Dream" the UK version.
*The third verse is a possible source for the title to both the play and the film "Another Country", where the hymn is sung.


External links

* [http://www.cyberhymnal.org/htm/i/v/ivow2the.htm "I Vow to Thee, My Country" at the "Cyber Hymnal"] .
* [http://anthem4england.co.uk/modules/news/article.php?storyid=3 "I Vow to Thee, My Country" at anthem4england.co.uk]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • I Vow to Thee, My Country — ist ein britisches patriotisches Lied und eine anglikanische Hymne. Dem Gedicht von Sir Cecil Spring Rice, das Anfang 1918 seine heutige Form erhielt, gab Gustav Holst 1921 eine Melodie, die er dem Jupiter Satz seiner Suite Die Planeten entlehnt… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • I vow to Thee, my Country — ist ein britisches patriotisches Lied und eine anglikanische Hymne. Dem Gedicht von Sir Cecil Spring Rice, das Anfang 1918 seine heutige Form erhielt, gab Gustav Holst 1921 eine Melodie, die er dem Jupiter Satz seiner Suite Die Planeten entlehnt… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • I Vow To Thee My Country — I Vow To Thee My Coun|try a British ↑patriotic song, the music for which was written by Gustav Holst, which is often played at school ceremonies and similar events in the UK …   Dictionary of contemporary English

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  • Stephen Lowe (clergyman) — The Rt Revd Stephen Lowe is the current suffragan Bishop of Hulme in the Anglican Diocese of Manchester, Link Bishop for Namibia and Chair of the Urban Bishops Panel. Whilst retaining these roles, he has however been released from all pastoral… …   Wikipedia

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  • Die Planeten — (englischer Originaltitel: The Planets oder auch The Planets Suite) ist der Titel einer Orchestersuite des englischen Komponisten Gustav Holst. Das Werk trägt die Opuszahl 32. Holst komponierte dieses Stück in den Jahren 1914 bis 1916 für ein… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

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