The mood was defiant, but a stirring musical expression of that defiance hadn’t yet appeared – until the fateful night at the Drury Lane theatre, when “God Save our King” was sung on stage by the company.
The audience was electrified. As the Daily Advertiser reported: “The universal applause it met with, being encored with repeated Huzzas, sufficiently denoted in how just an Abhorrence they hold the arbitrary schemes of our invidious Enemies, and detest the despotick Attempts of Papal power.”
Well, we don’t fear Papal power any more. But isn’t there a threat of despotic powers of a different kind being wielded just now, under the guise of “saving the euro”?
It’s surely time to stiffen British sinews, and the perfect musical encouragement lies ready to hand, in the anthem’s second verse. They’re not much sung these days, so you may have forgotten how the words go.
Here they are: “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.
Well, yes, but if we are to scatter her enemies, confound their politics and frustrate their knavish tricks, don\’t we have to go and hang all the politicians?
Not that I\’m against this as a general principle you understand, not even against it as a national rallying cry or something that should be sung before every national sporting occasion.
Actually, it would make international sporting occasions rather more fun, hanging a randomly selected Cabinet Minister from one of the two nations competing after the game. The only difficult question would be deciding whether it should be one from the losing or winning team that does the hemp fandango. If the losing side, would teams actually compete to win? Or would the incentive be greater if it were the winning team that lost one of its parasites?