RE: the heav'n-rescued land

From: M. E. Smith (
Date: Fri Aug 24 2001 - 09:24:34 MDT

Damien Broderick wrote:

> Ah yes.
> Blest with victory and peace, may the heav'n-rescued

et cetera..

Good point, Damien, and I understood the friendly
spirit of the post, but I'll just emerge from lurking
to raise a few points, probably not worth raising:

[] It's a **national anthem**, it's **supposed** to be
patriotic. Compare it to other anthems written more
than a hundred years ago.

I particularly like England's:

"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 us all!"


For the sake of this post, I looked up the lyrics to
"Advance Australia Fair", but couldn't find anything
quite so jingoistic there. (Rats!) Just stuff like

"Shou'd foreign foe e'er sight our coast,
Or dare a foot to land,
We'll rouse to arms like sires of yore
To guard our native strand.."

Which is pretty tame compared to "Confound their
politics; frustrate their knavish tricks..."! I'll bet
"Advance Australia Fair" was written much more

[] Since I was a kid, there have been those who want
to change our national anthem to the less jingoistic
"America" ("Oh beautiful, for spacious skies, for
amber waves of grain..."), but most still like "The
Star Spangled Banner", despite its flaws.

[] As has been pointed out, most Americans only know
the first verse, and if it wasn't a tradition of
belting it out at baseball games, I doubt 10% of the
population would know even that much.

[] Most of our "patriotic" activities are inevitably
accompanied by sly humor and irony. Once, while
watching Independence Day fireworks, I observed a
group of Americans belting out Bruce Springsteen's
"Born in the USA"; not just the refrain, but most of
the lyrics. The singers were clearly aware of the
irony, as were most of the people around, and everyone
thought it a great joke. This was not an isolated
occurance, but typical. Another example: every Fourth
of July parade I've seen in three years featured Elvis
impersonaters. What I'm saying is, although generally
patriotic, Americans are reluctant to let patriotic
displays go unaccompanied by self-effacing humor and
wierdness, almost as if they would be uncomfortable
otherwise. This is not recent, either. The custom of
having "Shriners" (a wacky fez-wearing American branch
of Freemasonry) ride around in little cars blowing
kazoos during Independence Day parades goes back many
decades. Compare this to Russian May Day parades, in
which tanks and ballistic missiles are common fare.

[] Back to the issue of anthems, our State anthems are
often equally interesting. Quite a few of our state
anthems still harken back to the American Civil War,
referring to the valor of our troops in blue or gray,
depending on the state.

A number of years ago, there was a movement in Oregon
to change it's anthem to the classic party song "Louie
Louie". (The song is said to have originated there.)
The movement came close to succeeding, and the song is
still treated by many as an "unofficial" anthem of

This reminds me a little of the status of "Waltzing
Matilda", although you would be the expert on the real
status of that song in Australian culture. However, I
take that as a sign that we're all that different.

When Canada created the new territory of Nunavut out
of what used to be the eastern Northwest Territories,
there was a referendum on what the *rest* of the
Northwest Territories should be called afterwards.
Keeping the name "Northwest Territories" won, but a
sizable contingent voted for the alternative of
renaming the area "Bob". The Canadians aren't that
different, either.

Alas, since we Americans have 270 million people, vast
resources, a remarkably successful economy, and the
power that comes with that, we must accept being a
target of ribbing by our philosophical cousins in more
sparsely populated parts of the English-speaking

I'm sure we deserve most of it, too.

** *** ***** ******* ***********

M. E. Smith

** *** ***** ******* ***********

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