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Friday, 12 October, 2001, 12:55 GMT 13:55 UK
Prom anthem 'too jingoistic'
Last Night of the Proms 2001
This year's Proms had no Land of Hope and Glory
The words of Land of Hope and Glory have been deemed "too jingoistic" for a major school music event in the current climate of international conflict.

The words of the anthem, traditionally sung at the end of the Schools Prom at the Royal Albert Hall, are to be changed after fears they were too "triumphalist".

But the National Union of Teachers (NUT), which is sponsoring the event, has called for an outright ban on the song, fearing some will sing the original words.

The Times Educational Supplement reported on Friday that the offending words have been replaced by the event founder Larry Westland.

It is totally inappropriate to end on that note

Doug McAvoy
NUT general secretary
He said: "I personally think the words of Land of Hope and Glory are great, but I just don't think they are appropriate at the moment."

It was also reported that children will not wear union jack hats, instead waving flags of every country in the UN.

NUT officials told the paper that the song referred to making the empire "mightier yet" which could be seen as offensive at a time when air strikes are being launched against Afghanistan.

Arthur Jarman, an NUT representative on the Schools Prom board, said: "In the light of the conflict, where there could be casualties both civilian and British, such a triumphalist song is inappropriate."

Triumphalism charge

The altered anthem now expresses a hope that music will "bring the world together".

NUT General Secretary Doug McAvoy told BBC Radio 4's Today programme pointed out the song was dropped by the Conservative conference and the Last Night of the Proms.

"It's seen today as something that might be jingoistic, that might be triumphalist.

"[Children] will come from schools with mixed groups, different faiths and in the present circumstances it is totally inappropriate to end on that note."

American attitude

Mr McAvoy said it was wrong to contrast the UK's situation with that in America where spontaneous renditions of God Bless America have become a familiar sight.

"The Americans have a talent for celebrating regularly and celebrating themselves.

"The same situation doesn't arise here.

The words aren't particularly good but if they object they are only drawing more attention to them

Andrew Neill
Elgar Society
"You rarely see the national anthem sung, certainly not spontaneously. We have a public that isn't used to it."

But the chairman of the Elgar Society, Andrew Neill, told BBC News Online the words in question made no mention of empire.

Mr Neill said they referred to expanding freedom, an appropriate sentiment in the current climate.

"The verse they object to is the one talking about freedom. The word empire isn't mentioned at all - they are being very neurotic about it.

"It is a pointless thing to do. The words aren't particularly good but if they object they are only drawing more attention to them."

The society, which has 1,700 members worldwide, will celebrate the centenary next Friday of the first performance of the march from the Pomp and Circumstance series. The words, by A C Benson, were added later.

Mr Neill added: "The quote from which the title Pomp and Circumstance is taken is a quote from Othello which talks about a farewell to war. I don't think that is a jingoistic statement.

"Why not let children make up their own minds?"

BBC News | Land of Hope and Glory


Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the Free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still and wider
Shall they bounds be set,
God who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet!


Music and our voices
Unite us all as one,
Let our sound be mighty,
Sung by everyone.
Deeper and still deeper
Shall our bounds be set
Bring our world together
Make us closer yet.

Wrong note?
Is Land of Hope and Glory too jingoistic?
See also:

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