“The mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire round about Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17

William Blake (1757-1827) Words: William Blake, circa 1804.

Music: “Jerusalem,” Charles Hubert Hastings Parry, 1916

Charles Hubert Hastings Parry (1848-1918)

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 evidence to support this story.

In any case, this work is of general interest because of its appearance in the 1981 Academy Award winning movie Chariots of Fire. Due to the music’s complexity, it is better suited for a trained choir than congregational singing.


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 chariots 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.

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