Friday, 4 February 2011

God save the Queen -- or the people?

The protests against miserable  and repressive regimes in Tunisia, Egypt, Jordan and other places remind me that government should be “of the people, for the people, and by the people”.

Miserable and repressive governments are not the sole province of Arab and Muslim states.   

I can think of a couple of nations which I know well, where the “people” have ceased to be stake-holders in their own governance. 

In these nations  (each has a name which begins with “United”!), government is now "by the professional politicians and for the oligarchs".

In thinking about this, my mind went back to the 19th Century hymns by Ebenezer Elliott, a great and noble champion of the poor.  His hymn is a “people’s anthem”, rather that a national anthem.  He asks God not to save the Queen, but to save the people.

(His hymn was, of course, used in “Godspell”).

You may read more about Elliott by following the link below.

First, his hymn:

When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
Not kings and lord, but nations
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
Flowers of Thy heart, O God, are they
Let them not pass, like weeds, away
Their heritage a sunless day
God save the people!

Shall crime bring crime forever
Strength aiding still the strong?
Is it Thy will, O Father
That man shall toil for wrong?
"No," say Thy mountains; "No," Thy skies
Man's clouded sun shall brightly rise
And songs ascend, instead of sighs
God save the people!

When wilt Thou save the people?
O God of mercy, when?
The people, Lord, the people
Not thrones and crowns, but men!
God save the people; Thine they are
Thy children, as Thine angels fair
From vice, oppression and despair
God save the people!

No comments:

Post a Comment