There are many things I love about Britain, and this song is one of them. “I Vow to Thee My Country” is a song made from a poem of Sir Cecil Spring Rice and the music of Gustav Holst. During its opening, it begins softly and reverently, proclaiming the devotion to one’s country. It is a song that talks of valor, of sacrifice, and of love. But then it talks of something I have never, until now, paid attention to–another country.
As the verse changes, the music crescendos to a majestic tone. It sings of a country that is not seen, but has been heard of long ago, whose beauty is suffering, whose bounds ever increase, and who is known to those who lover her. The poem was written for Christians, their vow to their home country, and to their heavenly country. I could continue to explore these words, but I will digress and let the beauty of the words speak for themselves.
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love.
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best.
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
We may not count her armies, we may not see her king,
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering.
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.