Proms changes replace jingoism with hope | Letters

Readers air their views in the debate over the traditional flag-waving anthems Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory

For those who don’t want to sing Land of Hope and Glory or Rule, Britannia! at next year’s Proms, may I recommend Hubert Parry’s wonderful anthem Jerusalem with lyrics by William Blake, which evokes an altogether different and politically radical tradition in English history (‘Trump-like culture war’: Boris Johnson wades into Proms row, 25 August).

Parry, a peaceable man who survived the first world war only to die in the Spanish flu pandemic, composed Jerusalem at the behest of a group called Fight for Right in 1916. But he was so appalled by their jingoism that he denied them permission for its use and instead agreed enthusiastically to the request of his friend, Millicent Garrett Fawcett, leader of the non-violent suffragists, that “your Jerusalem ought to be made the women voters’ hymn” and the copyright was acceded to the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies.

Jerusalem has been sung with hope, idealism and jubilation in the Royal Albert Hall for over 100 years. Long may this continue.
Mary Joannou

• What right does Boris Johnson have to try to influence the programme for the Last Night of the Proms? He seems to want to control every aspect of people’s lives.

Added to the fact that Elgar did not like the words that were added to his music, and also that choirs are not allowed to sing in live performances at the moment, it seems appropriate that the concert should include orchestral settings of Rule, Britannia! and Land of Hope and Glory without the words. If anyone wishes to, they can sing the words along with the orchestra in their own homes.

It is largely due to the likes of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, Michael Gove, Dominic Cummings and their cronies that Britain can no longer be considered a land of hope and glory.
Christine Medlow
Guildford, Surrey

• I’m not entirely sure which proud British tradition is being protected by those who object to the dropping of the words to Land of Hope and Glory at the Last Night of the Proms. My grandfather objected vehemently to this as an “imperialist anthem”. He served in France in the first world war, worked in the Kent coalfield, and was some distance away from being a woke snowflake. Let’s not pretend that previous generations had only one view on these “patriotic” questions.
Vivienne Pay
Chantry, Somerset

• Could it be that the adherents and critics of singing Rule, Britannia! at the end of the Proms both get it wrong (Rule, Britannia! will be played at the Proms but not sung, BBC confirms, 24 August)? When I, a foreigner living in London, saw the spectacle for the first time from inside the Royal Albert Hall a few years back, it struck me as quintessentially British not because of its alleged imperialistic tone, but for the irony with which it is sung, played and exhibited.

Flags from Albania to Zimbabwe waving alongside the union jack and many in the popular “choir” hooking arms with their unbeknown neighbours doesn’t strike me as chauvinistic. Those on both sides of the argument obviously take it seriously, but they shouldn’t.
Markus Haefliger

• Re Ruth Pritchard (Letters, 27 August) recalling hasty exit from cinemas during the singing of the national anthem, the main motivation was not disrespect or republicanism, but the imminence of last orders.
Chris Maher
Wallasey, Wirral


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