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I love the English hymn, “Jerusalem,” words by poet William Blake, music by Sir Hubert Hastings Parry. If I were an English Anglican, I might get to sing it in church. But I am an American Anglican (Episcopalian), and we don’t sing it. It’s about England, and it’s patriotic. It speculates about the legend that Jesus actually came to England with Joseph of Arimathea during the “lost years” between the manger and the baptism. “And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England’s mountains green?” it asks. Here’s a link where you can hear an English choir sing it:

The Episcopal Hymnal of 1982 does have the tune “Jerusalem” in it though. It is the setting for our hymn # 597, also called “O Day of Peace.” When Carl P. Daw wrote new lyrics to fit the tune in 1982, he had to remove the patriotic English stuff. Instead, he talks about a day of peace that will come some day, when the whole world knows God. I actually like the new lyrics pretty well, especially lines like “may swords of hate fall from our hands,” and “may our hearts from envy find release.” It loses some of the mystical tone of Blake’s poem, but it still speaks of a future day when all will be well. I admire Carl P. Daw for the courage it took to tackle replacing Blake’s famous poem. Here’s a link where you can hear a choir sing Hymn #579:

I became an Anglophile at age 11 when I fell in love with the Beatles. Looking back, I see that the Beatles were part of my spiritual journey. Loving the Beatles sent me on several trips to Britain where God worked on me through architecture, culture, and the Church of England to make me consider the possibility of God. Later, it was to the Episcopal church that I turned. Funny how these things work out. Perfect, too. Thanks, God.

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