czwartek, 8 grudnia 2011

Rule Britannia and Wilhelmus

Patriotic songs constitute a part of every nation’s culture, but are rarely taken as seriously as written historical sources. Even if the are, it’s due to patriotic character of some monographs. Text and message of a patriotic song is often to be elaborated by countrymen, although it has even better quality as a source, to foreign researcher, for whom other nation’s songs and anthems are the best gate to the spirit of the nation and it’s ‘national values” or myths, on which nations and states are built. This is most visible in national anthems, which could be more popular, royal, conservative or revolutionary, according to the vision of the state, they are supposed to somehow depict. Changing the character or word of the national anthem is always a serious matter as connected with the ideological change of the state and the nation. It’s even more serious, because the national anthem is supposed to have educational impact on younger generations.

In Poland it was considered for some time replacing the martial “Dąbrowski’s Mazurka” ("Poland is not yet lost") with more ‘psalmic’, and less optimistic Rota ("The Oath"), the same situation we have in the United States, it’s national anthem and the sentimental tunes of: America the Beautiful. In the UK we see adherents of the royal anthem: God save The Queen, the artistic though very popular and more ‘democratic’: Rule Britannia, other more ‘pacifistic’ songs like: Jerusalem or Scottish, Welsh and English traditional works.

Some nations can to boast of their huge collections of patriotic songs, some cannot. The powerful and populous Germany has no impressive collection of them unlike the Netherlands, that, besides the oldest official European anthem, the 16-th Century Wilhelmus, has a very rich set of patriotic anthems and songs, among which the most fascinating are those dating from the time of formation of the Dutch state, that is the last decade of 16th Century, and the next two-three decades. Among them we can mention: Al uwe boos' aenslagen (1568), Bede voor het Vaderland (1586), and even older Laet sang en spel (1572), that tells us about the Dutch hatred towards the Spanish governor the duke of Alba (…Duc d'Alve den tyran…). The song contains an invocation to God to repulse the Spaniard from the Low Countries. Many old Dutch patriotic songs have survived to our times were edited in the popular set of patriotic music: Nederlandtsche Gedenck-clanck from 1626.

Germany has maybe the biggest collection of folk songs from the pre-romantic era , before the pan-Germanic patriotism was really invented almost ex nihilo by German poets and philosophers, but there are almost no songs of clearly patriotic message among them. That can possibly explain why non-classical music written before the age of romanticism are rarely performer in Germany (the splendid exception are maybe: Die Gedanken sind frei and the oldest Prussian military marches like: Dessauer Marsch from the beginning of the eighteenth Century and Auf Ansbach Dragoner ! composed reportedly by the Frederick the Great about 1756. The Kingdom of Prussia that was established in 1701 is today perceived not only as the state that reunited German lands, but also as the cultural predecessor of today’s Germany. By the way it is worth noticing that for instance: Auf Ansbach Dragoner and other songs of this type are only as popular, as the German post-WWII politically correct sense of guilt allows, since the Prussian military has both positive and sinister connotations. German Prussian, Saxon, Bavarian etc. military marches were equivalents of patriotic songs in Germany before 19th Century. In the first decades of 19th Century German poets and musicians seemed still to prefer the universalistic approach than nationalistic1. The famous: Deutschland über alles, was composed as the ‘song of the Germans’ (Lied der Deutschen), using the same Haydn’s andante that the first Austrian anthem: Gott erhalte Franz den Kaiser. As to the post-martial guilt, today only the third stanza of Deutschland über alles can be sung legally and publically although e.g. La Marseillaise has much more bellicose character. But we must remember that France was an ally during WWII, ant its anthem contains no territorial claims.

From all pre-romantic patriotic music created in German land outside Prussia, only those are remember, which have been included into the classical music canon2, like in case of the frequently performed Johann Sebastian Bach’s cantata3: Preise Dein Glücke gesegnetes Sachsen (“Praise Your Luck Blessed Saxony”) composed in 1733 for the occasion of seizing the throne of Poland by the elector of Saxony Frederick Augustus I (Polish king Augustus II the Strong). Works like: Preise Dein Glücke gesegnetes Sachsen were by no means a rarity in the era of baroque and classicism. (e.g. the cantata composed by Johann Christian Freislich for Augustus III in Dantzig in 1755), but they hardy could be compared to patriotic music as we under stand this term today. Many of them were intended for a small group of listeners, although the aforementioned Bach’s cantata could be something of an exception, because it was performed in the center of Dresden, a city that enjoyed the long tradition of common aristocratic-plebeian feasts on open air, we can at least mention the entertainment organized for Frederick IV of Denmark’s visit in the capital of Saxony in June 17094. But still: Preise Dein Glücke lacked one feature of patriotic music as we understand it today it’s to complicated to be performed, ore even whistled by average subjects or citizens. This is the reason why baroque patriotic music rarely can become popular among masses, an why the splendid operatic song Rule Britannia, composed by Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778) in 1740 sung in UK during the Night of the Proms (opera singers sing the stanzas, and the mob replies with the chorus: Rule Britannia / Britannia rule the waves / Britons never never never shall be slaves won’t replace less popular but easier: God save The Queen, composed nota bene in the same historical period5.

In Scandinavian countries there are two official anthems; the royal and the popular one, which are more less on the same level of importance, but are performer on different occasions. In Sweden the role of royal anthem is played by : Kungssången6, and that of a popular one, by: Du gamla, Du fria, which is still less official. Their Danish equivalents are: Kong Kristian from about 1770 roku, and: Der er et yndigt land (‘There is a beautiful country’) accepted as the official anthem of Denmark in 1844. In Noway there use: Kongesangen sung in the tune of: God Save the King (stanzas were composed in the 1840’s and in 1906 roku), and: Ja, vi elsker dette landet (‘Yes, we love this country’) from the 1860’s. This is how the compromise between the royal and the national spirit can look like.

How important it is to nations or political movements to possess not only a catching ideology, but also its own anthem, can proof the case of the Spanish nationalistic song: Cara al. Sol (‘Facing the Sun’) from 1935. This hymn was composed as an answer for the anarchistic song: A Las Barricadas sung by the anarchists in tune of the Polish: Warszawianka (‘La Varsovienne’ / ‘The Song of Warsaw’) composed by Jean-François Casimir Delavigne and Karol Kurpiński in 1831 roku with reference to La Marseillaise.

In many countries the role of patriotic music before the rise of nationalism was played by religious anthems7”. It was normal to sing: Te Deum laudamus, before the battle to secure God’s help and mercy. Lutheran soldiers had their: Ein Feste Burg is unser Gott sung in German or in translation (as e.g. Swedish version: Vår Gud är oss en väldig Borg). The Swedish historian, writer and the distinguished member of the Swedish Royal Academy, Peter Englund, working on his book about the battle of Poltava (1709), tried to penetrate the soul of a 18th Century Swedish private soldier, for whom singing a religious song before the battle was the most important thing, because he would have interpreted every event as a sign of God’s will. The snowstorm that dazzled the Russian army at Narva (1700) was perceived as the sign of God’s benevolence for Swedish cause. The problems with food supply during the Ukrainian campaign were being interpreter as a sign of God’s disapproval. In his book Englud has written that Te Deum was Heard by both armies at Poltava, which is doubtful.

In England before the Victorian era, patriotic music used to be composed either as practical military music8, like: British Grenadiers (end of XVII C.), or operatic or occasional music. From the 17th Century on there was in England a tradition of so-called occasional music; occasional arias, odes or oratories. The famous Henry Purcell (1659-1695) used to compose funeral odes for the royalty, e.g. In December 1694 for Mary Stuart, the wife of William III. But these works never become sung as patriotic music, as we today under stand this term, contrary to some operatic arias and chorals – the music composed mainly for entertainment. The chorus by George Frederick Handel: See The conquering Hero comes, which is part of 1747 oratorio: Judas Maccabaeus, still frequently played and popular (it was also one of the most popular musical works of the 18th Century) we can hear even in the famous film: Out of Africa (1985), performed by Robert Redford and Michael Kitchen. At the beginning of the 19th Century the melody of Handel’s chorus was applied in German carrol: Tochter Zion freue Dich. Arne’s: Rule Britannia was also originally a part of stage music work, namely the opera: Alfred (1740), telling the story of famous king Alfred the Great. Very similar transition we can observe in case of Verdi’s opera: Nabucco, and the chorale: Va pensiero chich is still known as the hymn of the slaves, and was sung in Verdi’s Times as the first informal Italian anthem.
The British was probably the first to enjoy patriotic music in today’s meaning of this word. Those songs are the medieval equivalent of today’s patriotic mass culture. We always think about the hundred years war (1337-1453), as a conflict which has awaken the patriotic/nationalistic spirit among the English and French, but in France the patriotic music was for a very long time limited to religious music, or military marches, like those composed by Jean-Baptiste Lully (1632-1687) both for Louis XIV’s army and opera. The mediaeval English: Agincourt Carol, also known as: Deo gratias Anglia redde pro Victoria was printed as a part of the so-called: Robertsbridge Codex in 15th Century. But, according to Shakespearian tradition, at the fields of Agincourt in 1415, the English sung psalm: Non nobis, Domine, non nobis / Sed nomini tuo da gloriam9.

British and American historiography already in the 19th Century studied with care the connection between ideology and patriotic music, which can be the effect of the relatively early democratization in Anglo-Saxon world. One of the favorite topics for historians dealing with American revolutionary war (1775-1783) is what song was sung by George’ III’s troops after the battle of Yorktown (1781)10. It is a very concrete question – was it: The World Turned Upside Down11 or: The King Will Cover into This Again ”)12. The answer could provide information about something so imperceptible as the mood of the surrendering army. Were the British depressed and dispirited, Or maybe they perceived Yorktown as a temporary lack of good fortune? We know that British banner was honored by troops of Rochambeau and Washington, but this could be the effect of military conventions. Of course we can find some memoires, but remarks we can find there will always belong only to individuals. The music only could provide the final answer about collective spirit of an army and some particular period. It’s possible that the British at Yorktown sung: When the King enjoys his own again, the song of English royalists fighting Cromwell. This song uses the same tune as: The World Turned Upside Down, and fits perfectly to revolutionary struggle13.

Sometimes the traced existence of some patriotic song can constitute proof for existence of some political organization, or of the for its political importance. Niall Ferguson cites in his work: Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (London 2003), the loyalist song: The Congress, sung during the revolutionary war, and comments, that the existence of such songs proofs how strong was the loyalist movement in the thirteen colonies14”. These are first two stanzas of the song:

Ye, Tories all rejoice and sing,
success to George our gracious King.
The faithful subjects tribute bring,
and execrate the Congress.
There hardy knaves and stupid fools,
Some apish and pragmatic mules,
Some servile acquiescing tools,
These, these compose the Congress.

The vicissitudes of Fortune of the famous song: Yankee Doodle can show us, how much changes in history affects the worlds of ideologies and music. The melody itself probably came into being in 17th Century Netherlands than become popular in England. About 1775 British officers used the popular tune to compose a song to satirize commonplace customs of the American colonial population. This text was sung by the British at Bunker Hill. In the year of this battle another version was already known and sung from time to time by Americans. This version tells the story of brother Ephraim, who went for a war against the French (probably it relates to the French and Indian Wars). Soldiers of both sides, and Americans after the war created some other versions, which makes the case of Yankee Doodle, an example of ideological-musical war15.

This is the British version mocking the ignorance and common manners of American colonists, who Gould think, that putting a feather in their hats could make them: macaroni, that is; very fashionable16:

Yankee Doodle went to town,
A-Riding on a pony;
He stuck a feather in his hat,
And called it macaroni.
Yankee Doodle, keep it up,
Yankee Doodle dandy;
Mind the music and the step,
And with the girls be handy

And a new stanza addend by the British, after the battle of Bunker Hill (1775):

The seventeen of June, at Break of Day,
The Rebels they supriz'd us,
With their strong Works, which they'd thrown up,
To burn the Town and drive us.

This British version we can compare with one of earliest American version telling the story of brother Ephraim, which nota bene is also a bit contemptuous towards a common colonist. We deal here with a situation similar with that of Goebbels’ desart rats; something regarded as an insult by the enemy, is fully accepted by the nation as a positive set of values:

Brother Ephraim sold his Cow
And bought him a Commission;
And then he went to Canada
To fight for the Nation;
But when Ephraim he came home
He proved an arrant Coward,
He wouldn't fight the Frenchmen there
For fear of being devour'd.

The message of some patriotic songs is today understandable only in relation to our knowledge about historical facts. We can ‘feel’ the social situation thanks to such songs like: Ah! ça ira, Heart of Oak or: Gustafs skål. Three mentioned pieces relate to different values cherished by Three different nations in very specific historical period.

Ah! ça ira was the most popular of French revolutionary songs. Like: Rule Britannia it was based on operatic music. Lyrics of Ah! ça ira was the work of veteran named Ladré, who earned his life as street singer. The melody has a form of a typical contredance and was primarily used for an aria, popularly called: le Carillon national, a work of violinist and composer Bécourt. The queen Marie Antoinette was reportedly very fond of the aria and used to play it on harpsichord. The title of it’s next version: Ah! ça ira, comes from Benjamina Franklina, American envoy in Paris (1776-1785), who was asked about the chances of American revolutionary forces during the war against the British, and replied, that he believed in success: ça ira,

Analyzing two versions of Ah! ça ira’s lyrics we cant race the radicalization of attitude among the revolutionary politicians and mob. The version from 1790 is very ‘religious’ in character. We see the reference to the Gospel, and the ‘genuine catechism’, carefully distinguished from the horrible fanaticism and bigotry. We can also find a call for great lawgiver, someone like Draco or Solon, which is typical for republicans always idealizing the myths about Athenian lawfulness. We can feel some disdain for aristocracy (if an aristocrat protests, the ‘genuine citizen’ should laugh into his face) , but no calls for its extermination. As Jeremy Black observes the Eighteenth Century European culture was basically still a Christian one17, so it’s no wonder that we could find in Ah! ça ira a mixture of exclusive anticlericalism and the catholic virtues deeply rooted in mob’s minds. These are some of the words of the 1790 version:

Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Le peuple en ce jour sans cesse répète,
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Malgré les mutins tout réussira.

Nos ennemis confus en restent là
Et nous allons chanter « Alléluia ! »
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Quand Boileau jadis du clergé parla
Comme un prophète il a prédit cela.
En chantant ma chansonnette
Avec plaisir on dira :

Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !
Suivant les maximes de l’évangile
Du législateur tout s’accomplira.
Celui qui s’élève on l’abaissera
Celui qui s’abaisse on l’élèvera.
Le vrai catéchisme nous instruira
Et l’affreux fanatisme s’éteindra.
Pour être à la loi docile
Tout Français s’exercera.
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !

The later version composed and sung by radical sans-culottes in times of terror (1793) is much more aggressive than the previous one, calling to kill aristocrats and clergymen. In 1795 th French Directory prohibited performing both versions publically. That prohibition was maintained by Napoleon. This is almost the whole lyrics of the sans-culotte version:

Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !
Les aristocrates à la lanterne,
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !
Les aristocrates on les pendra !
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !
Les aristocrates à la lanterne.
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira !
Les aristocrates on les pendra.

Si on n’ les pend pas
On les rompra
Si on n’ les rompt pas
On les brûlera.
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,

Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Nous n’avions plus ni nobles, ni prêtres,
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
L’égalité partout régnera.
L’esclave autrichien le suivra,
Ah ! ça ira, ça ira, ça ira,
Et leur infernale clique
Au diable s’envolera.

Today in France sometimes both versions are sung together., although the most famous is the version, based on the sans-culotte one, sung in the 60’s by Edith Piaf, who has changed significantly the melody.

Another song that can tell us much about the spirit of times, in which it was composed is: Heart of Oak from 1759. The author of words used in it was the most famous British actor of 18th Century David Garrick (1717-1779), whereas the melody was composed by William Boyce (1711-1779). The song tells us how the British patriotism of the era looked like. The king is mentioned only once, most likely due to the supremacy of parliament as a leading political power already in those days:

Come, cheer up, my lads, 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, as freemen not slaves,
For who are as free as the sons of the waves?

Heart of oak are our ships, jolly tars are our men,
we always are ready; Steady, boys, steady!
We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, why we follow, and run them ashore,
And if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.

They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes,
They frighten our women, our children and beaus,
But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er,
Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.

Britannia triumphant, her ships sweep the sea,
Her standard is Justice -- her watchword, 'be free.'
Then cheer up, my lads, with one heart let us sing,
Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen, and king.

The key-word as in most British patriotic songs is ‘freedom’, although – in the contrary to Rule Britannia’ s lyrics, that freedom is not opposed to some tyranny of foreign powers. Heart of Oak came into being in ‘wonderful year’ of 1759, when British fleet and armies defeated the French in India (Robert Clive) and Canada (James Wolfe). The unprecedented success of British armed forces was promising a new era of British domination, although the British politicians were so thrilled by triumphs, that were unable to find any amicable solution of the American conflict 16 years later18.

Very often the political situation influences the world of art, including music. During WWI the French authorities has prohibited public performance of German music, especially the pieces by Schubert and Wagner, on the other hand German authorities prohibited Gershwin’s works in 1941. This of course reminds us the recent problem of American fries instead French fries. These are examples of somewhat childish nationalism.

The pre-revolutionary era was dominated by philosophical enlightened universalism, that was focused on universal idea of truth and beauty, that could have being discovered, or betrayed. Very interesting situation was in Paris and Versailles of the 1750s and 1760s where the adherents of energetic music of Rameau opposed the more static and solemn traditional music of Lully, that used to add splendor to all royal ceremonies, and later were attacked by adherents of Italian baroque music like Diderot and Rousseau (who was himself a rather mediocre composer). The most characteristic feature of this conflict is the tension between musical and political attitude of both sides. As soon as les rameauneurs and les lullyistes were reconciled, the music of Rameau started to be perceived as monarchist and pro-absolutistic, whereas Italian music of Piccinini and others was treated like an incarnation of more republican tendencies. No wonder that (liberal) monarchist like Voltaire was rameauneur19.

Very similar situation was in Britain in 1730s, but there a musical taste played even more humble role than in Paris ot the 1750s. We mean a conflict between enthusiasts of Handel’s music, and the king George II, and adherents of prince of Wales Frederick, the parliamentary ‘patriot’ opposition, and Nicola Porpora’s music performed in the Theather of The Nobility. This conflict was precede by a former strictly musical quarrel between fans of Handel and Italian opera, and those of traditional English masque that John Gay and John Christopher Pepusch tried to revive with their Beggar’s Opera (1729).

The rivalry between Theather of The Nobility and Handel’s Covent Garden had little in common was not about matters of taste. Both Handel and Porpora represented Italian mainstream baroque opera, but Handel was party sponsored by the king, so it was a duty to every nobleman of the opposition (either anti-ministerial ‘patriot whigs’ or tories) to visit Theather of The Nobility (where the famous castrato- singer Farinelli used to sing), as it was for every friend of the establishment and the prime minister Roberat Walpole, to show up in Covent Garden. There was some nationalistic element of this quarrel, as both the king and Handel were Germans, as was prince Frederick, who however played the role of true-borne Englishman20.

The cultural and musical wars were known also to early modern Sweden. The rivalry between the parties of: Hattar (hats), and Mössor (caps), chich dominatem the period of Swedish Era of Liberty (Frihetstiden): 1718-1772 (from the liquidation of absolutism after the tragic death of Charles XII , up to the restoration of 1772 by Gustav III) had an impact on Swedish cultural life. Already in the 1740’s the leaders of Mössor like Mattias Alexander von Ungern-Sternberg (1689-1763) expressed a cultural connection with England, read Locke, ad were interested in British industrial inventions. The famous Swedish composer who was somewhat connected to Mössor, Johan Helmich Roman (1694-1758) learnd the art. Of composing on Handel’s works21. Politically the Mössor, were connected also to Russia, whereas Hattar Francophiles fascinated by French modern philosophy, especially that of Voltaire. The party was lead by diplomats, among whom many used to serve as Swedish envoys in Paris: Carl Gyllenborg (1679-1746) , Carl Gustaf Tessin (1695-1770), Anders Johan von Höpken (1712–1789)22. The ‘Hats” dreamed about stronger Sweaden thank to French support. To that party used to belong the composer Carl Michael Bellmann (1740-1795), known as ‘Swedish Mozart’, who, after Gustav III’s coup d’etat (1772) changed hist views to more royalist. The Swedish middle class were tired of both parties and the corruption applied by them, so they supported gladly the pro-bourgeois king Gustav23.

In 1772 Belmann composed (from his own free will) a song intitled: Gustafs skål (‘Toast to Gustaf’), which dleighted the monarch. From this time on the song become an unofficial national anthem, up to 1805, when: Bevare Gud vår kung was composed by Abraham Niclas Edelcrantz (1754-1821). In Gustafs skål the rule of parliament are called as injust and insane. We can also find in this song a trace of a strong monarchist credo realated to the idea of royal god-given privilegies.

Gustafs skål (1772)
Translation: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gustafs_sk%C3%A5l

Gustafs skål!
Den bäste Kung, som Norden äger:
Han ej tål,
At vigtskåln ojämt väger. :||:

God och glad,
Han Ilskans röst föraktar
Samt afvaktar
Och betraktar
Dårskap i sin grad. :||:

Sådan Kung
Är värd att styra Sveriges öden:
Rask och ung,
Ej rådlös uti nöden. :||:

Wasa Ätt
Har aldrig lärt att svika,
Aldrig tvika,
Men at fika
Till at göra rätt. :||:

Gustafs Toast!
The greatest king of the north:
He can't rest,
While injustice rules. :||:

Decent and cheerful,
He detests anger
and waits
and studies
lunacy in progress :||:

A king like he
Is worthy to govern Swedens destiny
Bold and young
Never in hopeless need :||:

Of Vasa dynasty
Is taught to never fail
Never hesitate
But rather do
What is just and fair. :||:

To conclude we can once more say, that patriotic songs are rich source of historical knowledge about the historical attitudes of elite and mob, and the social imagination referring to particular historical events.


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