Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Alas! The Patron Saint of Perfidious Albion

The saint of faraway

Friday, the 23rd of April was Saint George’s Day, St George is the patron saint of Bulgaria, England, Georgia, Portugal, C├íceres, Alcoy, Aragon and Catalonia. Now, St George never visited England, he was born in what is modern-day Turkey and died modern-day Israel. However, his fame and legend spread wide along with the myths and mythologies of slaying dragons. [English Heritage: Saint George]

At church on Sunday, it being the 4th Sunday of Easter we also celebrated the feast of St George and it was quite a very English-themed service in the Church of England, one I cannot recall ever experiencing before. It did not dawn on me when the first hymn included the line, ‘O help us, Helper of Saint George’ that we were at a feast. [Hymnal 162: Lord God of Hosts, within whose hand]

The setting for circumstance

The sermon did make some references to St George, but I also noticed that we did not have the sole cantor at the front of the congregation, but the choir was in the quire and the organist was playing the main pipe organ rather than the grand piano set to the right of the altar facing us.

However, after the Communion, we were full jingoistic and nationalistic when the choir went full throttle with Jerusalem, not that we were at the Last Night of the Proms, and until I saw the words in the pamphlet, I really had no idea what it was all about, yet this is the unofficial anthem of England. And where Jerusalem is mentioned in what was originally a poem by William Blake before it was put to song is in the third line of the 2 and 4 verse, though as a hymn we are presented with 2 long verses. [Wikipedia: And did those feet in ancient time]

Jerusalem, we await thee

And how I would have loved to sing the lines, ‘And was Jerusalem builded here, among these dark satanic mills?’ Which in the time of William Blake (1757 – 1827) lived and wrote the poem in 1804 would have been a picture of Industrial Revolution England and the flourishing hope of the final lines, ‘till we have built Jerusalem, in England's green and pleasant land.’ Which today still remains a prayer yet unfulfilled even with the promise of the sunlit uplands of Brexit. [Hymnal 488: And did those feet in ancient time]

And so, the Sung Eucharist ended with some British pride as we rose to the National Anthem, again, only sung by the choir and probably one republican who remained seated in probably a demonstration of defiance to the Queen who clocked 95 2 days before. The only thing I probably did not notice at all was the flag of Saint George. I might have forgotten to write this, then it occurred to me, it was an important and symbolic celebration. I sure have been more aware of its significance.

Notes:

"Perfidious Albion" is a pejorative phrase used within the context of international relations diplomacy to refer to acts of diplomatic sleights, duplicity, treachery and hence infidelity (with respect to perceived promises made to or alliances formed with other nation states) by monarchs or governments of the United Kingdom (or England prior to 1707) in their pursuit of self-interest. [Wikipedia] I can assure you, it remains true today if you consider the leaders we have.

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