New Descant for Old Hymn, ‘Jerusalem’ Released

Jerusalem - in our green and pleasant lands?
Jerusalem – in our green and pleasant lands?

A new descant for the popular traditional British hymn, Jerusalem, has been unveiled. The composer of the new version, Aloysius Munce, said he was ‘delighted to bring a breath of fresh air to the song’s pleasant pastures. The descant is designed to be in dialogue with the original lyric, and I wanted it to represent Christianity’s openness to other faith, beliefs and the scientific method.

‘Jerusalem was voted top as a choice for the nations next National Anthem and I was approached by the church to update it a little. It’s not for everyone but art never is. And this is like Banksy does church music.’

But the news hasn’t been greeted with enthusiasm in all circles. President of the Latin Church Movement, Brian Brandston, released a fourteen page rebuttal of the new lyrics but no-one can be bothered to read it because it’s in Latin. It’s probably not positive though.

The lyrics are shown below with the new descant in italics. The sheet music is due to be released soon.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?   Not likely.
And was the holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?   Not in an actual sort of way.
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?   Only, like, cosmically.
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among those dark satanic mills?   Not really, and it’s ‘built’.

Bring me my bow of burning gold!   Okay, where is it?
Bring me my arrows of desire!   Where did you see them last?
Bring me my spear: o clouds unfold!   Huh?
Bring me my chariots of fire!   The DVD or the soundtrack?
I will not cease from mental fight;   Don’t go ceasing.
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand.   Sheath before sleeping.
Till we have built Jerusalem   Not in my backyard.
(Together) In England’s green and pleasant land.

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