World War One hymn is nation’s favourite

BBC Songs of Praise presenters JB Gill Catherine Jenkins, Aled Jones
Image caption The country’s top 10 hymns were revealed in a Songs of Praise special hosted by singer Aled Jones (right)

Jerusalem has been voted the UK’s favourite hymn, in a vote held by BBC One’s Songs of Praise.

The hymn, which takes an 1803 poem by William Blake and sets it to music written by Sir Hubert Parry, beat How Great Thou Art to the top spot, with In Christ Alone coming third.

Members of the public chose from the 100 hymns that have featured most on the BBC show over the past five years.

Singer Aled Jones revealed the top 10 in a special episode on Sunday.

Jerusalem did not feature among the top 10 last time the survey was conducted in 2013.

Top 10 hymns, 2019

  1. Jerusalem
  2. How Great Thou Art
  3. In Christ Alone
  4. Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind
  5. Abide With Me
  6. I Vow To Thee My Country
  7. Guide Me O Thou Great Redeemer/Jehovah
  8. Amazing Grace
  9. Be Still For The Presence Of The Lord
  10. I, the Lord Of Sea And Sky

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Media captionJerusalem, based on the William Blake poem “And did those feet in ancient time”, has come out as favourite in previous polls

The Songs of Praise special, which was filmed at De Montfort Hall in Leicester and first broadcast on Sunday, featured guests including Britain’s Got Talent winner Colin Thackery, Black Panther actress Sope Aluko and classical singer Russell Watson.

The Kingdom Choir, who sang at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, sang Abide With Me, while Katherine Jenkins performed Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind in St Davids Cathedral in Wales.

Image caption Katherin Jenkins performed Dear Lord And Father Of Mankind on the programme, saying she loved the songs “beautiful” melody and sentiment
Image caption The Kingdom Choir performed Abide With Me in the Isle of Wight

Other performances included Fairground Attraction singer Eddi Reader singing Amazing Grace and Daniel O’Donnell singing In Christ Alone from the Causeway Coast in Northern Ireland.

Jerusalem – an anthem for England?

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The UK anthem, God Save the Queen, is currently used during some sporting events
  • Composer Sir Charles Hubert Hastings Parry wrote the hymn in 1916 at the height of World War One.
  • The song was commissioned by his friend, poet laureate Robert Bridges, who wanted a piece that would lend itself to mass singing in order to rally the public and drive wartime resolve.
  • The first performance, at the Queen’s Hall in London, was considered to be a rousing success.
  • Sir Hubert died of Spanish flu and septicaemia in October 1918, aged 70 – weeks before the end of the war.
  • The song was the focus of newspaper headlines in 2016, when MPs debated on whether England should adopt its own national anthem. However, the proposals did not pass into law.

Songs Of Praise – The UK’s Favourite Hymn is on BBC iPlayer now.



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