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ONLINE BOOK I Bow To Thee, My Country |WORK|


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 questions, the love that stands the test,That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;[10]The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.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,[11]And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.[12]




ONLINE BOOK I Bow to Thee, My Country



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,[14]And around 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.


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 questions, 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.


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"I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above, Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love..." When added to the hymn-like music in Holst's Jupiter, these words make up the popular hymn. The orchestral version was performed at Queen Elizabeth's coronation, but since Holst reworked the music to fit the text, the piece will forever carry the wonderfully patriotic associations.


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I think that the second verse probably disappeared from sung versions when I vow to Thee, My Country was included in church hymn books. It then stopped being a patriotic song and became a song of worship. The original poem was called The Two Countries or something like that, and it referred to the writer's devotion to two countries or kingdoms - the Kingdom in which he was born and the Kingdom of Heaven. As a patriotic song, the "homeland" is the focus, but as a religious hymn, the Kingdom of Heaven has to be the focus and editors might have thought that omitting the middle verse would achieve this, with one verse proclaiming love of country and the other proclaiming love of the other, "most great" country in a simple but very effective comparison.


"I'm just looking at a copy of the first edition of 'I vow to thee, my country', in its original version as a unison song, which came into the library in 1921, and it includes only the first verse. I imagine the other verse/s was/were included later when it began to be used as a hymn tune, starting with 'Songs of Praise' (1925)."


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.


I will admit that the syntax is a bit difficult, but the intended reading is clearly "I vow to thee, my country, [who art] above all earthly things [etc.], [to render unto thee] the service of my love." Now it is evident that the good bishop is not exactly a man of letters, but would it be too much to ask of him to consult with somebody fluent in early-20th-century English before allowing the media to spill his spur-of-the-moment fatwas all over the internet?


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