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The music to which the words of the refrain "Land of Hope and Glory, &c" below are set is the "trio" theme from Edward Elgar's Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1. The words were fitted to the melody on the suggestion of King Edward VII who told Elgar he thought the melody would make a great song. When Elgar was requested to write a work for the King's coronation, he worked the suggestion into his Coronation Ode, for which he asked the poet and essayist A. C. Benson to write the words. The last section of the Ode uses the march's melody.
Due to the King's illness, the coronation was postponed. Elgar created a separate song, which was first performed by Madame Clara Butt in June 1902. In fact, only the first of the seven stanzas of the Ode's final section was re-used, as the first four lines of the second stanza below. This stanza is the part which is popularly sung today.
Dear Land of Hope, thy hope is crowned,
God make thee mightier yet!
On Sov'ran brows, beloved, renowned,
Once more thy crown is set.
Thine equal laws, by Freedom gained,
Have ruled thee well and long;
By Freedom gained, by Truth maintained,
Thine Empire shall be strong.
Land of Hope and Glory, Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee, who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet,
God, who made thee mighty, make thee mightier yet.
Thy fame is ancient as the days,
As Ocean large and wide:
A pride that dares, and heeds not praise,
A stern and silent pride;
Not that false joy that dreams content
With what our sires have won;
The blood a hero sire hath spent
Still nerves a hero son.
The writing of the song is contemporaneous with the publication of Cecil Rhodes' will—in which he bequeathed his considerable wealth for the specific purpose of promoting "the extension of British rule throughout the world", and added a long detailed list of territories which Rhodes wanted brought under British rule and colonised by British people. The reference to the extension of the British Empire's boundaries may reflect the Boer War, recently won at the time of writing, in which Britain gained further territory, endowed with considerable mineral wealth.
England currently has no agreed national anthem, with "God Save the Queen", the national anthem of the United Kingdom, often being used in sporting events in which England competes separately from the other Home Nations. However, there are calls for this to be changed, and a 2006 survey conducted by the BBC suggested that 55% of the English public would rather have "Land of Hope and Glory" than "God Save the Queen" as their national anthem.
On St George's Day, 23 April 2010, the Commonwealth Games Council for England launched a poll to allow the public to decide which anthem would be played at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India. Voters chose between "God Save The Queen", "Jerusalem" and "Land of Hope and Glory" with the winning song, "Jerusalem", being adopted as the official anthem for Team England.
"Land of Hope and Glory" has traditionally been sung amidst flag-waving at the climax of the Last Night of the BBC Proms.
At international rugby league matches, England often sang "Land of Hope and Glory" as their national anthem. While their anthem changed to "God Save the Queen" after the dissolution of the Great Britain side in 2007, it is still tradition for the team to use "Land of Hope and Glory" as their walk-out theme.
"Land of Hope and Glory" is sung by English fans at home England rugby union games in Twickenham after the home and away National Anthems have been sung. "Land of Hope and Glory" is sung by the crowd as the teams assemble for kick off; this began as a response to the New Zealand team's haka.
Supporters of Wolverhampton Wanderers Football Club (the team Elgar supported) sing a version of the song with the lyrics changed to We will follow the Wanderers over land sea and water. Supporters of their local rivals West Bromwich Albion sing We will follow the Albion over land sea and water. Supporters of Huddersfield Town sing 'We're all following Huddersfield, over land and sea'. Supporters of Derby County football club sing “We all follow Derby, over land and sea (and Leicester)”, similarly MK Dons fans sing "We all follow the MK, over the land and sea (and Wycombe!)". Aberystwyth Town of the Principality Welsh Premier League supporters sing a version of the song, 'We all follow the Aber, over land and sea and Bangor! we all follow the Aber, on to victory'. Leeds United supporters sing a version of the song that goes as follows; 'Land of hope and glory, Yorkshire shall be free, We all follow United, onto victory'.
The song inspired the rather ironic title of the 1987 film "Hope and Glory", depicting WWII through the eyes of a 10-year old boy.
The song is also used in the 2012 Japanese film "Little Maestra". It is set in a small fishing village in Shikamachi, Ishikawa Prefecture, who depend on the local amateur orchestra as their favorite source of entertainment. When the conductor dies unexpectedly, the townspeople recruit the man’s granddaughter, a high school student with a talent for conducting. The song is heard three times throughout the movie.
In the United States and Canada the instrumental version of this song is traditionally associated with high school and college (university) graduations. It is known as Pomp and Circumstance and is played as a processional or recessional. During ceremonies for larger schools this piece is played repeatedly. It may be played for as long as the graduates are walking, which can be longer than some symphonies.
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