Today is St George’s Day; the patron saint of England. It is the day to celebrate everything English, from our beautiful countryside, lovely people, culture and images. In this multi-cultural world, English culture and tradition often gets lost, yet we have a great tradition of literature, music, dance and drama. No one could fail to recognise Shakespeare as a major influence on story telling, the theatre, music and also our language.
However, our culture has other sublime features. The above photo is of a Morris Dancing team. They performed on May Day but all of the Morris Dancers will be out celebrating St George’s Day today. This much misunderstood dancing (which causes much amusement) is actually a wonderful story telling activity and I recommend you watch them if you have the chance.
Rule Britannia is a wonderful song that is often attributed to England. Watch this great version.
Fairest Isle, by Purcell sung by Barbara Bonney. For older listeners this is a real memory of England.
Why Jerusalem isn’t the national anthem for the England Rugby team I don’t know? We would all love to sing it at Twickenham!
Nimrod by Elgar. I always think of the beautiful Malvern Hills in Worcestershire, which is where Elgar lived.
Land of Hope and Glory. Another stirring piece and wonderful music. I’m afraid I rather embarrassed my son when I sang out at a school concert. I was lost in the moment!
The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams. You can’t fail to think of our beautiful land when you hear this.
Dance to your Daddy performed by English Heroes. Great stuff! Who says English Folk is boring?
English culture has a rich tradition of folk songs – many story telling mechanisms: Early one morning is one such song.
I could go on; add more recent artists (some of whom are hyped by record companies) but I’ll stop there. So bravo all English musicians, dancers and actors!