Words: , cir­ca 1804 (some sourc­es cred­it the first two lines to ).

Music: Je­ru­salem (Par­ry), , 1916.

Hav­ing be­gun work on his epic po­ems “Mil­ton, a Po­em in Two Books” and “Je­ru­sa­lem,” on moving to Fel­pham, Sus­sex, in 1800, Blake com­plet­ed his Preface to Milton in 1804, ap­par­ent­ly while await­ing trial in Chi­ches­ter for high treason (he moved back to Lon­don af­ter be­ing ac­quit­ted).

Charles Parry set Blake’s Preface to Milton to mu­sic for a ral­ly of the “Fight for the Right” move­ment in Queen’s Hall. It be­came more gen­er­al­ly known as “Je­ru­sa­lem” when Par­ry con­duct­ed it in 1918 at a con­cert to mark the fi­nal stage in the Votes for Wo­men Cam­paign, af­ter which it was adopt­ed by the Na­tion­al Fed­er­a­tion of Wo­men’s In­sti­tutes (and is still sung at meet­ings of WI Groups all over Britain). Ed­ward El­gar added an or­ches­tral score to Parry’s rather som­ber tune in time for the Leeds Fes­ti­val of 1922, turn­ing it in­to a pop­ular na­tion­al hymn which tra­di­tion­al­ly ends the last night of the an­nu­al Sir Henry Wood prom­en­ade con­certs at the Roy­al Al­bert Hall. This work al­so made an ap­pear­ance in the Acad­e­my Award win­ning mo­vie Char­i­ots of Fire (1981).

The theme is unique­ly Eng­lish, and there is an un­der­tone of 19th Cen­tu­ry pol­i­tics. The lyr­ics may refer to folk­lore that says Je­sus vis­it­ed Bri­tain as a teen­ag­er with Jo­seph of Ar­i­ma­thea, who was said to be a dis­tant rel­a­tive and had a stake in Cor­nish tin mines. How­ev­er, there is no his­tor­ic­al da­ta sup­port­ing this sto­ry.

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?

Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear! O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.