Dallas Campbell reveals why we can only understand the familiar world around us by discovering the hidden wonders beneath our feet.

Britain Beneath Your Feet - Netflix

Type: Documentary

Languages: English

Status: Ended

Runtime: 60 minutes

Premier: 2015-07-02

Britain Beneath Your Feet - And did those feet in ancient time - Netflix

“And did those feet in ancient time” is a poem by William Blake from the preface to his epic Milton: A Poem in Two Books, one of a collection of writings known as the Prophetic Books. The date of 1804 on the title page is probably when the plates were begun, but the poem was printed c. 1808. Today it is best known as the hymn “Jerusalem”, with music written by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. It is not to be confused with another poem, much longer and larger in scope, but also by Blake, called Jerusalem The Emanation of the Giant Albion. The poem was inspired by the apocryphal story that a young Jesus, accompanied by Joseph of Arimathea, a tin merchant, travelled to what is now England and visited Glastonbury during his unknown years. The poem's theme is linked to the Book of Revelation (3:12 and 21:2) describing a Second Coming, wherein Jesus establishes a New Jerusalem. Churches in general, and the English Church in particular, have long used Jerusalem as a metaphor for Heaven, a place of universal love and peace. In the most common interpretation of the poem, Blake implies that a visit by Jesus would briefly create heaven in England, in contrast to the “dark Satanic Mills” of the Industrial Revolution. Blake's poem asks four questions rather than asserting the historical truth of Christ's visit. Thus the poem merely implies that there may, or may not, have been a divine visit, when there was briefly heaven in England.

Britain Beneath Your Feet - Parry's setting of "Jerusalem" - Netflix

We looked at [the manuscript] together in his room at the Royal College of Music, and I recall vividly his unwonted happiness over it ... He ceased to speak, and put his finger on the note D in the second stanza where the words 'O clouds unfold' break his rhythm. I do not think any word passed about it, yet he made it perfectly clear that this was the one note and one moment of the song which he treasured ...

Accordingly, he assigned the copyright to the NUWSS. When that organisation was wound up in 1928, Parry's executors reassigned the copyright to the Women's Institutes, where it remained until it entered the public domain in 1968. The song was first called “And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time” and the early published scores have this title. The change to “Jerusalem” seems to have been made about the time of the 1918 Suffrage Demonstration Concert, perhaps when the orchestral score was published (Parry's manuscript of the orchestral score has the old title crossed out and “Jerusalem” inserted in a different hand). However, Parry always referred to it by its first title. He had originally intended the first verse to be sung by a solo female voice (this is marked in the score), but this is rare in contemporary performances. Sir Edward Elgar re-scored the work for very large orchestra in 1922 for use at the Leeds Festival. Elgar's orchestration has overshadowed Parry's own, primarily because it is the version usually used now for the Last Night of the Proms (though Sir Malcolm Sargent, who introduced it to that event in the 1950s, always used Parry's version). During his folk-singing period, in 1965 Don Partridge recorded a solo version of the hymn with acoustic guitar accompaniment.

I wish indeed it might become the Women Voters' hymn, as you suggest. People seem to enjoy singing it. And having the vote ought to diffuse a good deal of joy too. So they would combine happily.

Davies arranged for the vocal score to be published by Curwen in time for the concert at the Queen's Hall on 28 March and began rehearsing it. It was a success and was taken up generally. But Parry began to have misgivings again about Fight for Right and eventually wrote to Sir Francis Younghusband withdrawing his support entirely in May 1917. There was even concern that the composer might withdraw the song, but the situation was saved by Millicent Fawcett of the National Union of Women's Suffrage Societies (NUWSS). The song had been taken up by the Suffragettes in 1917 and Fawcett asked Parry if it might be used at a Suffrage Demonstration Concert on 13 March 1918. Parry was delighted and orchestrated the piece for the concert (it had originally been for voices and organ). After the concert, Fawcett asked the composer if it might become the Women Voters' Hymn. Parry wrote back,

Britain Beneath Your Feet - References - Netflix