England - Elizabeth - I Vow to Thee, My Country

Peace | View Score



2 Flutes, Oboe, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, 4 French Horns, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Tuba, Timpani, Tam-Tam, Suspended Cymbal, Bass Drum, Glockenspiel, Tubular Bells, Harp, Strings


4 Piccolos, Penny Whistle, Oboe, English Horn, 2 Clarinets, 2 Bassoons, Contrabasson, 4 French Horns, 2 Trumpets, 2 Trombones, Bass Trombone, Tuba, Timpani, Snare Drums, Field Drums, Bass Drum, Marching Cymbals, Tam-Tam, Suspended Cymbal, Harp, Harpsichord, Choir, Strings


I Vow to Thee, My Country is a British patriotic hymn that uses a melody by British composer, Gustav Holst, known as “Thaxted,” named after the town where Holst lived for many years. Many will also recognize “Thaxted” as the stately theme in “Jupiter” of Holst’s The Planets Suite. I Vow to Thee, My Country was created in 1921 when Holst adapted “Thaxted” to a poem by Sir Cecil Spring-Rice. Sir Cecil Spring-Rice’s poem, completed in 1908, describes his conviction of loyalties to his homeland, the United Kingdom, and a heavenly kingdom. The hymn is very popular in England and a favorite of the British. It was sung at Princess Diana’s wedding, funeral, and ten-year memorial thanksgiving service. The peace music quotes the melody directly in the middle section, while the war music transforms it into a marching fife melody. Lyrics are as follows:

I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
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.

I heard my country calling, away across the sea,
Across the waste of waters she calls and calls to me.
Her sword is girded at her side, her helmet on her head,
And round her feet are lying the dying and the dead.
I hear the noise of battle, the thunder of her guns,
I haste to thee my mother, a son among thy sons.

And there's another country, I've heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
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.


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