I spent some time listening to some wonderful songs last night
First was Leonid Kharitonov singing "Volga Boatman" with the Red Army Choir. The song is actually a type of shanty. It is not the song of sailors, however. It is a song of men on a towpath dragging boats along the Volga, presumably upstream. It is a song of endurance. As such the words are simple to the point of meaninglessness but the tune is compelling. And when you see Kharitonov -- a most manly looking man -- you get a feeling for Russian power.
Russians are enduring. They have to be -- with both a demanding climate and a demanding government. I admire them and have a feeling for what life must be like in Russia. When you listen to Kharitinov, however, you begin to understand the war on the Eastern front. The Germans were military specialists and killed 4 Russians for every one of theirs that fell. But the Russians just did not give in -- so indomitability triumphed over military brilliance.
Then I watched an excellent version of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, played by an American army band. It was a very sophisticated performance in my language by people of my ethnicity referring to my religious heritage but I was nevertheless a little uncomfortable with it. I was disturbed by the women in the band, including the very capable woman conductor. In my old-fashioned military mind, we fight to protect our women, not put them in the army. A nation that puts its mothers in danger has lost the plot and endangered its future in my view.
Then I watched a very well done version of Hatikva, the national anthem of Israel. I am hugely pro-Israel so that moved me. When they sing about Jerusalem that is not just their religious capital but it is ours too. Their Bible is our Bible too. So we too have learnt to yearn for Zion.
Then there was a rendition of the simple but beloved Russian folk song: Katyusha. With a lively little Russian girl (Valeria Kurnushkina) drawn in to sing her part. The Choir with their big hats sang happily along with her. She was a charmer.
And then I went to a magnificent rendition in the Albert hall of that great English song "Jerusalem". Blake's magical words and Parry's setting are incomparable. Anybody with English blood in them (and I am one) has to glorify in that song despite it's vast theological improbability. I liked some of the comments left on the video. I felt that way too:
Thank God I was born an Englishman!!
For starters I hardly ever cry, but this almost brought a tear to my eye. Were so proud of you from across the pond, sending lots of love and wishes of luck on your new journey of independence.
I don't give a toss about what people say or think about my country, I'm a proud Englishman and that will never change
Amazing! Wish i was british. In germany it's a crime to love your own country.
Almost cried when I heard Jerusalem today and I'm not even British. I truly wish a bright future and only the best for England and for the whole UK.
God save the Queen from sweden .
If you happen to be a free citizen anywhere on this planet, believe it or not, you are indebted to England. By the way i am not British and not among the fortunate ones.
Being born English is like winning the first prize in the lottery of life.