England fans are calling for ‘God Save the King’ to be replaced with ‘Jerusalem‘ before the Three Lions’ World Cup clash against Wales tomorrow.
The stirring Welsh anthem, Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau – which translates to Land of my Fathers – has proved popular among football fans of all nations, with a number dubbing it the best of the tournament.
By contrast, England supporters are fed up with their traditional tune, which has been described on social media as ‘dirge’.
Some are claiming the difference in tone between the songs is so stark, it could rouse the Dragons into an inspired performance, knowing they need to win to keep any hopes of qualifying to the last 16 alive.
Wales fans sing the national anthem before their side’s World Cup clash with Iran last week
Dwynwen Morgan, a radio producer from Gwynedd, gave an impassioned display during the Welsh national anthem – when the Dragons took on USA on Tuesday – and caught the eyes of the spectators watching at home, who praised her pride when belting out her country’s song
One user wrote: ‘At least the Welsh national anthem has some passion about it… unlike the English dirge.’
Another said: ‘My money is on Wales. Their Anthem will inspire them to beat England & England will bottle it.’
A third added: ‘England has to be the worst anthem ever. Wales and Scotland have better anthems. Should change it though to Jerusalem.’
Earlier in the tournament, a Welsh football fan was dubbed ‘the face of the anthem’ after she gave a rousing rendition of the song during her side’s clash with USA.
Dwynwen Morgan, a radio producer from Gwynedd, was shown during ITV footage of the game in the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium, belting out Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau, the official national anthem of Wales, with tears in her eyes.
Fans watching at home quickly took to social media to comment on her commitment to her team, with one saying she was ‘amazing’ and another adding: ‘This is how it feels to be Welsh when you anthem is playing.’
BBC football host Gary Lineker said watching the crimson-shirted sea of fans – known as ‘the Red Wall’ – get behind the Welsh team had given him ‘goosebumps’.
The use of ‘Hen Wlad Fy Nhadau’ in Qatar is its first outing as Wales’ World Cup anthem, having previously used ‘God Save the Queen’ when they were last involved in the competition in 1958.
Created by father and son Evan and James James in 1856, it has since become Wales’ unofficial but universally recognised national anthem.
Its popularity soared after the Bangor Eisteddfod festival of 1874 when it was sung by leading soloist Robert Rees, before then being increasingly used at patriotic gatherings.
In 1905, the Welsh national rugby team hosted New Zealand’s first touring team, who started every match performing a haka.
In response, Wales’ ‘Teddy Morgan led the crowd in singing the anthem, which was unprecedented before a match.
Since then, it has frequently been sung at sporting events and governmental ceremonies, and while there have been a number of petitions launched to make it an official national anthem for Wales, it has never actually been established as such.
Meanwhile, God Save the King – the official British national anthem – dates back to the 18th century in its current form.
It became popular amid the patriotism that followed the 1745 victory of Prince Charles Edward Stuart over King George II’s army in Scotland.
After hearing the news of Prince Charles’ success in the battle, the leader of the band at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, arranged God Save The King for a performance after the play. It was repeated nightly after that.
There is no authorised version of the National Anthem as the words are a matter of tradition.
Additional verses have been added down the years, but these are rarely used.
Players of England sing the national anthem prior to their World Cup clash with USA on Friday
It comes as Welsh midfielder Joe Allen called on his teammates to produce the ‘performance of their lives’ to get out of Group B.
Wales must beat their neighbours for the first time in 38 years on Tuesday to be in with a chance of making the knockout stage.
Even then, unless England are beaten by a four-goal margin, Wales will need Iran and the United States to draw their final match to make the round of 16 in Qatar.
‘I think everyone is hurting because of the situation we find ourselves in and the disappointment of the result (losing 2-0 to Iran) and only having one point after two games,’ said Allen, who returned as a substitute in Friday’s defeat after two months out with a hamstring problem.
‘That’s the hurt at the moment. It’s a feeling of missed opportunity in the first two games.
‘We’ve had the time needed to digest that disappointment.
‘Our focus now moves onto getting on the training pitch, putting in the work and preparing for the performance of our lives against England.’
England have recorded six successive victories since Wales last beat the Three Lions, 1-0 at Wrexham in May 1984 in the now defunct British Home Championship.
Their last competitive meeting was at Euro 2016 when Daniel Sturridge scored a stoppage-time winner to secure a 2-1 England win, a game that Swansea midfielder Allen played in.
Playing down the British ‘derby’ factor, Allen said: ‘I don’t think we could be more motivated. We’re in the World Cup and have to win.
‘Regardless of who we play in it, we all know what’s at stake and what a huge moment it is for our nation.
‘It’s about putting everything into it. Ideally you want it to be in your hands but this is the situation we find ourselves in.
‘While there’s still a glimmer of a chance of going through we’ve got to throw everything we can at it.’
DOMINIC LAWSON: England’s downbeat dirge of an anthem means there’s one battle Wales are sure to win tomorrow
By Dominic Lawson
We already know one outcome of the World Cup match tomorrow between England and Wales. When the players line up before kick-off at 7pm GMT, the Welsh football team (and their supporters in Qatar’s Ahmad bin Ali stadium) will achieve a devastating victory against their English rivals … in the battle of the national anthems.
That’s not simply because Wales is a nation that prides itself on its choirs, since the English also have a fine choral tradition.
The point is that our cousins across the Bristol Channel have an absolute stonker of a melody for their anthem, Land Of My Fathers — sung regularly at national sporting events since 1905, and composed in 1856 by a gentleman with the superbly Welsh name of James James (his father, Evan James, provided the lyrics).
When the players line up before kick-off at 7pm GMT, the Welsh football team (and their supporters in Qatar’s Ahmad bin Ali stadium) will achieve a devastating victory against their English rivals … in the battle of the national anthems. Gareth Bale is pictured above in the match against Iran
When this was being thundered out before the start of Wales’s first match in Qatar against the U.S., it made a global impact. One viewer in the States, while supporting his own team, tweeted that the Welsh should be declared the ‘winner of the World Cup of National Anthems’.
Wales fans sing their hearts out during their World Cup clash with Iran at the Ahmad Bin Ali Stadium in Al-Rayyan, in Qatar
Actually, some years ago, a group of English and German musicologists drew up a league table of what they termed ‘singability’ among all national anthems. One of their criteria was the extent to which unaffiliated listeners joined in spontaneously.
The champion anthem turned out to be that of our historic rivals and reigning football world champions, the French: La Marseillaise came top. It is, indeed, a belter — although the words in the refrain (‘Let an impure blood water our furrows’) are perhaps best not taken literally.
And which anthem came second? Yes: the Welsh.
Meanwhile, to no one’s surprise, the British anthem — then, God Save The Queen — languished in next to last place. This was explained by one of the musicologists involved in the project, Dr Alisun Pawley: ‘The tune is written in a way that doesn’t invite high chest voice singing for most people’s voices, and it lacks a real hook or climax where people feel compelled to join in or belt it out.’
So now you know.
Shouldn’t the English, like many other nations, have one which sends tingles up the spines, not just of our own people, but of all those listening or watching, across the globe? In fact, does our National Anthem even send tingles up the spines of more than a very small minority of the English?
But the words are also uninspiring. You don’t have to be a republican to regret the fact that what we call the National Anthem does not celebrate the nation at all, but whoever happens to be the monarch — unlike Land Of My Fathers, which celebrates Wales, its landscape, and its language.
While the late Queen was alive, the British National Anthem at least evoked the fervent wish on the part of most of her people that she remained healthy and on the throne. But it simply doesn’t have that feeling now, after a gap of 70 years, that it is once again God Save The King.
In fact, even when his mother was alive, the anthem was not popular. The polling organisation YouGov, at the height of the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, asked participants to ‘declare your views on the National Anthem’.
Although 70 per cent of the respondents indicated that they were in favour of the monarchy, YouGov also reported that ‘an overwhelming number of you told us that you didn’t like the National Anthem’.
It would, obviously, be possible for the National Anthem still to be so called — though it has no status in law — but to use a different one for sporting events where an England team is playing.
In fact, even when his mother was alive, the anthem was not popular. The polling organisation YouGov, at the height of the celebrations of the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee in 2012, asked participants to ‘declare your views on the National Anthem’. The Queen and Prince William are pictured above during the Diamond Jubilee in 2012
On St George’s Day in 2010, the Commonwealth Games Council for England polled the public to ask which of God Save The Queen, Jerusalem and Land Of Hope And Glory should be used as the official anthem for Team England. Jerusalem secured an absolute majority (52 per cent of the vote).
It is indeed immensely popular. Almost too much so, in a way. I don’t think I have been to a wedding or a funeral in recent years in which it was not on the order of service. The music, by Sir Hubert Parry, is unquestionably inspirational. But the words of William Blake, bawled out so unreflectively, are strange, at least as a national anthem.
As many have observed over the years, Blake asks four questions — and the answer to each one of them is ‘no’.
For example, Christ never set foot in England and the Lamb of God never frolicked around in the West Country.
And some literary critics have suggested that ‘the Dark Satanic Mills’ were actually Blake’s way of describing the cathedrals of the Established Church, of which he was not an admirer. Besides, it is odd to have a national anthem by the name of the capital of another country.
A more suitable substitute national anthem is I Vow To Thee My Country, with its wonderful theme by Gustav Holst (which he originally used in his most popular work, The Planets suite, to evoke mighty Jupiter). Although it might be a little tricky for the King, as it was chosen by his first wife, Diana, for their wedding, and was sung at her funeral.
The words, by Cecil Spring-Rice, might also vex the secular spirit of the age, as they link the ideal of patriotism to the notion of Christian spiritual salvation. On the other hand, unlike Rule, Britannia! or Land Of Hope And Glory, both of which are also gloriously singable as pure melody, I Vow To Thee My Country, though written in its current form during World War I, is free of bombast or imperial grandiosity. In official settings, it is associated with Remembrance Day services across the Commonwealth.
The idea that the English have a sort of anthem envy, looking longingly at what the Welsh and the Scots (Flower Of Scotland) have to offer, was wittily set out by the satirical song-writers, Michael Flanders and Donald Swann, who produced a series of gems in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
Satirical song-writers Michael Flanders (left) and Donald Swann (right), who produced a series of gems in the late 1950s and early 1960s, are best known for The Hippopotamus Song (‘Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud’) – but one of their less celebrated numbers was A Song Of Patriotic Prejudice.
Best known for The Hippopotamus Song (‘Mud, Mud, Glorious Mud’), one of their less celebrated numbers was A Song Of Patriotic Prejudice.
Introducing it, Flanders observed: ‘I don’t know if you’ve ever thought of this, but England hasn’t really got a national song. I mean just for England. All the others, they’ve got songs about their countries, you know, the Scots … and the Welsh and the Irish, you’ve got songs saying how marvellous they are and making rude remarks about the English in their own language.’
And then they belt out their own suggestion, which (and remember, this was meant to be satirical) does what it claims the other nations of the United Kingdom do to the English in their anthems.
‘The English, the English, the English are best; I wouldn’t give tuppence for all of the rest!
‘The rottenest bits of these islands of ours, we’ve left in the hands of three unfriendly powers.
‘Examine the Irishman, Welshman or Scot; you’ll find he’s a stinker, as likely as not.’
By contrast, as Flanders and Swann go on to sing: ‘The English are moral, the English are good; and clever and modest and misunderstood.’ They also give satirical vent to the idea that, in sport, only the English play in the correct spirit:
‘And all the world over, each nation’s the same; they’ve simply no notion of playing the game.
‘They argue with umpires, they cheer when they’ve won; and they practise beforehand, which ruins the fun!’
But there is a serious point, when it comes to the anthems we sing at great national sporting events. Shouldn’t the English, like many other nations, have one which sends tingles up the spines, not just of our own people, but of all those listening or watching, across the globe?
In fact, does our National Anthem even send tingles up the spines of more than a very small minority of the English?
No. As so many of those YouGov responders, variously, told the pollster, our National Anthem is ‘dull’, ‘depressing’, ‘downbeat’, ‘a dirge’.
Meanwhile, tomorrow evening, we English will watch the Welsh team and supporters thunder out ‘Gwlad! Gwlad!’ and know they are the winners, whatever the result of the match.