I Vow to Thee My Country

Then out spake brave Horatius,
The Captain of the gate:
“To every man upon this earth
Death cometh soon or late.
And how can man die better
Than facing fearful odds
For the ashes of his fathers
And the temples of his gods,

Horatius at the Bridge

Thomas Babington, Lord Macaulay




Something for the weekend.  I Vow to Thee My Country.  This seems to be appropriate for a weekend after Thanksgiving.  A pity it is a British Hymn as it sums up perfectly how I view my patriotism and my religious faith.  The song is a poem written Sir Cecil Spring Rice, a friend of Theodore Roosevelt, and British ambassador to the US during World War I.  The poem started life in 1912 under the title City of God and was rewritten in 1918 shortly before Rice returned to Great Britain.  The Great Composer Gustav Holst supplied the music and the song was published in 1925 as  a hymn.




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.

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.

More to explorer


  1. Thank you, Don. That was, to quote my wife, “truly magnificent and moving.” This shows, again to quote my wife, that “Britain is truly the greatest nation that ever was.”

  2. Good as it gets for patriotic music.

    I’m afraid a diva in a cocktail dress (and colored hair) is ill-matched to the song and setting. Her enunciation isn’t great, either. The other, which includes shots of soldiers, sailors, the Prince-Consort and Queen, and Mr. and Mrs. Cameron, is more pleasant.

    It would be an agreeable alternative to the Star Spangled Banner if it were established in popular culture. It is in Britain, but not here. Jerusalem has a beach-head here, but it has enough geographic references to make it odd as a patriotic hymn anywhere but in England.

  3. sung at Winston Churchill’s funeral.
    music now in most hymnals with words
    O God Beyond All Praising [thinking of having it, esp 2nd verse, at my funeral]

    Guy McClung, Texas

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