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MilenaK

"I Vow to Thee My Country" full three verse version

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Hello everyone,

I am rather desperate in my search for a full three verse musical sung version of the beautiful patriotic hymn "I Vow to Thee My Country."

On Youtube and elsewhere, all one finds are the shorter two verse renditions including the first and third verses, but not the crucial second verse, which is actually the most patriotic:

"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 hear 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 her sons."

I am afraid leaving the second verse out on purpose is the misguided belief, that actually dying for your country, let alone your country appealing to you to go to war for her and possibly die in the battle, is politically incorrect.

I have seen this attitude before: I live in the Ypres Salient, and there have been countless occasions when the famous poem "In Flanders Fields..." was read, and the last verse omitted on purpose as well, for the very same reason of being politically incorrect. Good grief!

Is this denying the fallen warriors the appreciation and honour for their ultimate sacrifice, or do I see it wrong?

Anyway, if anyone knows where I could get hold of the sung full three verse version of "I Vow to Thee My Country" - would you please let me know?

Many thanks

Milena

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Hello everyone,

I am rather desperate in my search for a full three verse musical sung version of the beautiful patriotic hymn "I Vow to Thee My Country."

On Youtube and elsewhere, all one finds are the shorter two verse renditions including the first and third verses, but not the crucial second verse, which is actually the most patriotic:

"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 hear 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 her sons."

I am afraid leaving the second verse out on purpose is the misguided belief, that actually dying for your country, let alone your country appealing to you to go to war for her and possibly die in the battle, is politically incorrect.

Milena

Possibly the last line has been seen as sexist in an age when women can serve and die on the battlefield too?

The British national anthem has many verses omitted today (all about confounding foreigner's knavish tricks and pounding rebellious Scots - even if the SNP prevails I can't see the second of these being restored!). The German anthem has had the opening verse (which actually pre-dates Germany as a political entity) Deutschland, Deutschland über alles completely excised.

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Re the British national anthem, the verse that only spies and schoolboys know is:

O Lord, our God, arise,

Scatter her enemies,

And make them fall.

Confound their politics,

Frustrate their knavish tricks,

On thee our hopes we fix:

God save the Queen.

Adjusted, of course, depending on the monarch. Much depends on the first appearance of the song (not fully determined) as to whether the enemies are the French or the Scots - but being politically correct about v.2 is nothing new. When Queen Victoria was advised that it might be politic to remove the verse, she is said to have responded, "But I wish to confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks!"

PS: it might be worth seeking out an old edition of the English Hymnal for the three-verse "I vow to thee, my country".

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It may be the most patriotic verse, but it is also the least poetic.

Edwin

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It's not a true hymn is it really? It's a patriotic song given the guise and trappings of a hymn. Written in 1908, in two verses (first and third) it compared the difference between England and Heaven. In 1918 the author Spring-Rice re-wrote the first verse to included the Great War losses and experience, and he included it then as a second verse. There always was an uncertainty as to how many verses should be included - First verse 1908, revamped first verse 1918 posing as a second verse and the original second verse 1908 posing as a third.

Holst's music was adopted for the poem in 1921. The uncertainty continued for the next 70 years. In 2004 the Church of England synod called it "totally heretical" and for it to be discontinued as a CoE hymn. The view is that it places national loyalties and blind support of government way above any religious loyalties.

To be honest, the second verse doesn't really fit in with the original lyrics.

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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.

Incidentally, I agree with Edwin. I had never heard of a missing verse until today, but I think I vow to Thee, My Country is better without it. I think it repeats the very concise patriotic expression of the first verse, without really adding anything.

Tom

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Re the British national anthem, the verse that only spies and schoolboys know is:

O Lord, our God, arise,

Scatter her enemies,

And make them fall.

Confound their politics,

Frustrate their knavish tricks,

On thee our hopes we fix:

God save the Queen.

Adjusted, of course, depending on the monarch. Much depends on the first appearance of the song (not fully determined) as to whether the enemies are the French or the Scots - but being politically correct about v.2 is nothing new. When Queen Victoria was advised that it might be politic to remove the verse, she is said to have responded, "But I wish to confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks!"

No she didn't. The verse originally said "Frustrate their Papish tricks" and it was George V who suggested that it should be changed to knavish. The original 1745 version included the verse

Lord, grant that Marshal Wade,

May by thy mighty aid,

Victory bring.

May he sedition hush,

and like a torrent rush,

Rebellious Scots to crush,

God save the King.

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I beg your pardon :) blame my contact.

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I would add that there is no truth in the story that a certain ex Australian subject was until recently heard singing another variant

Lord, grant that Rebecca Wade,

May by thy mighty aid,

Victory bring.

May she scandal hush,

and like a torrent rush,

Inquisitive MPs to shush,

God save Prince Rupert.

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Thank you all very much for your reactions to my query.

However, my problem still remains - does anybody out there have a musical version/recording with all the three verses of "I Vow to Thee My Country," please???

Milena

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If any one does have a musical recording, I would also like to know.

In the unlikely event of anyone turning up to my funeral, they are going to sing all three verses!

Bruce

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Hold the line. The librarian will ask someone she knows.

sJ

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OK - a music librarian I know says,

"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)."

He is also corresponding with the Holst Museum in Cheltenham, about something else, and will ask about 3-verse recordings if any.

sJ

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Holst was just plain furious that they used his music for the song.

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Despite hearing the three verse version sang at the laying up of the Regimental Standard in the Regimental Church 3 years ago, both myself, Milena and others it seems have been unable to locate this version. Plenty of two verse versions on You Tube but no three verse versions unfortunately. We did find a three verse poem version but we really do need to locate a three verse sang version.... We live in hope.

Chris

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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.

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Hello Cellopro, and welcome to the forum.

The OP was hoping a recording which included that second verse could be found. So far apparently no one has found one.

Liz

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Holst was just plain furious that they used his music for the song.

Actually it was Holst who put his music (from the Planets suite) to it, so he clearly was not furious!

The words were written by a friend who asked him to write some music, the story goes that he said he was rather pleased that the music from Jupiter just happened to match it as he was rather busy at the time.

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I've always wanted to ask. What are "all earthly things above"?

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It does seem fairly contradictory doesn't it?

I used to think about this when we sang it in chapel on Sundays (the Royal Military Chapel sticking rigidly to a 'God's greatest hits' hymn programme) and the best I could come up with is that the phrase is a statement saying the said country is above all earthly things - not that all earthly things above are being vowed to as well as the country.

Still contradictory but deliberately and meaningfully so.

- brummell

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Logically and theologically impossible perhaps?

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Many a poem would suffer from a logical analysis! I think the theological issue would be why the Church found it to be heretical as geraint points above.

Either way, I've always found it very moving and enjoyable to sing.

- brummell

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I came to this page because I was also looking for a recording including the second verse.

 

Then the "heretical" thing gave me pause, but I think it turns out this had been misreported by The Telegraph; the Church of England as a body never held any such view, and the news reports were about one Stephen Lowe, Bishop of Hulme, who even while a bishop of the Church of *England* appears to think that English patriotism is evil.

 

Or maybe he just failed at reading comprehension, because, as reported by BBC, his complaint was that: 

"[the first verse] is actually heretical because it actually says that my country's approach to things must be my first call on myself and that my relationship with God or what I believe to be right or wrong is secondary to that."
-- while in fact Spring-Rice went out of his way to qualify that his country is above "all earthly things", so that the text not only does not imply but explicitly exempts anyone's patriotism from taking precedence over their "relationship with God". 

 

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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