I know I’ve only posted recently; but I’m sorry, I just can’t resist this. It’s a slight diversion from the norm, so I will be brief.
I’ve been glued to the Olympics over the last few days and the achievements of our athletes thus far is surely going to turn out to be the ultimate legacy of 2012 by the end of next week. But oh, the awful rendition of our national anthem, a somewhat dreary tune at the best of times! It’s a melody as well known as ‘Happy birthday’, which is why many have come to tire of it, and there has been much debate over recent years about whether it should be replaced – as is sometimes informally done with ‘Jerusalem’ at more English, as opposed to national, events, such as Test Matches. Leaving that aside, foreign versions of our national anthem are almost universally awful.
In 1961, Benjamin Britten created his own arrangement for the Leeds Festival, and the Queen was present. If you’ve ever attended, or listened to, the Last Night of the Proms, you will be familiar with it. If you don’t know it, you may be surprised that it can be as beautiful as this. The story goes that the Queen was herself very moved on its first hearing, complimenting Britten and observing to him that she had, of course, heard it on a number of occasions.
Clearly there would be no time to play these two verses on the medal podium (although it would probably still be shorter than a number of others), but this is my good luck card to Team GB. It’s great stuff.