Our first session, on 24th Sept, will be as follows:
Professor Jason Whittaker (English and Journalism) ,
“Before ‘Jerusalem’: Blake’s stanzas from Milton, 1863 to 1915”
When Hubert Parry set Blake’s stanzas from the epic poem Milton to music in 1916, he created one of the most famous hymns of the twentieth century which, in more recent years, has often been mooted as an alternative English national anthem to God Save the Queen. By the time of Blake’s death the stanzas themselves were virtually forgotten. Alexander Gilchrist first brought them to a wider audience when he included the lines as an example of the “singular preface” and the lyric was reprinted at various points during Victorian and Edwardian periods. It was even set to music before Parry turned his hand to it, Walford Davis composing a version for the Morecombe Festival in 1908. As such, this talk will explore how lines beginning “And did those feet…”, detached from Blake’s original and obscure mythology and set against a background of British Israelitism and increasing imperial confidence, could be transformed into a proto-national hymn.
This session will take place at 5pm on Thursday 24th Sept in room MC0024, which is on the ground floor of the MHT Building. The MHT is number 2 on this map: