Monday, February 09, 2015

Music Monday ~ Holst, Jupiter, Hymn, and surprise, surprise...Rugby!

The only radio I listen to these days is music from BBC Radio 2 via internet, sometimes live sometimes "on demand". While listening to one such show the other day I heard a song with a very familiar melody but unfamiliar lyrics. Its title: World in Union. The song's melody originates in Gustav Holst's The Planets suite, is part of its 4th movement, Jupiter, the Bringer of Jollity. The melody, known as "Thaxted", was originally adapted by Holst for its use in the patriotic hymn, I Vow to Thee My Country, based on a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice.

So...that was the reason the melody was so familiar to me. We sang "We Vow...." in school assemblies, long ago, back in England, and it pops up regularly at almost every state funeral, royal wedding and other such events in the UK.

If in the right sort of mood, I'll enjoy a stately, full blast version of I Vow to Thee My Country, but I do like this gentler version by Beck Goldsmith - a recent use of the old hymn is as theme to a British TV series, The Village, which I intend to search for on Netflix. (Update: not yet available).

World in Union, with lyrics by Charlie Skarbek, uses the same melody, its words present a more all-encompassing loyalty, envisioning a time when people of the Earth might embrace our whole world rather than one individual nation. This is far more appropriate to Jupiter's astrological association with philosophy and expansive good feeling; music dedicated to that planet surrounds these lyrics.

World in Union is theme song of the Rugby World Cup. These lyrics attempt to capture a spirit of international friendship which, it is said, pervades rugby union culture the world over. (Rugby Union is something like American football - but not really, or so I'm told. I'm a complete ignoramus on sport). The song was commissioned by the sport's governing body in 1991, it has become synonymous with the "gathering of the nations" that the four-yearly tournament represents. 2015 is a Rugby World Cup year, as it happens.

New Zealand's Dame Kiri Te Kanawa's superb rendition of World in Union
~ Holst would be proud!

World in Union

There's a dream
I feel so rare, so real
All the World In Union
The world as one

Gathering together
One mind, one heart
Every creed, every colour
Once joined, never apart

Searching for the best in me
I will find what I can be
If I win, lose or draw
It's a victory for all

It's the World In Union
The world as one
As we climb to reach our destiny
A new age has begun

We face high mountains
Must cross rough seas
We must take our place in history
And live with dignity

It's the World In Union
The world as one
As we climb to reach our destiny
A new age has begun

Build a world
A World In Union
A new age has begun


mike said...

"Thaxted" sounds like what happened to the UK under Margaret Thatcher. Very nice music and the recycling into "World in Union" has uplifting lyrics. In keeping with your post from Saturday, I like the toe-poppin' version of Ladysmith Black Mambazo with P.J. Powers:

Twilight said...

mike ~ LOL - yes it does! Wiki tells us that

Gustav Holst was a long term resident of a town called Thaxsted. Sections of his most famous work, The Planets, were inspired by local characters.[citation needed] Holst's setting of the patriotic hymn "I Vow to Thee, My Country" to the trio melody of "Jupiter" in The Planets is named after the town.

Ladysmith Black Mambo's version is a good one ! A better, direct link: