The ‘Jerusalem’ Joseph

William John Lyons

in Joseph of Arimathea

Published in print February 2014 | ISBN: 9780199695911
Published online April 2014 | e-ISBN: 9780191773754 | DOI:

Series: Biblical Refigurations

The ‘Jerusalem’ Joseph

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This chapter discusses how the idea of Jesus visiting England offers an even more powerful urge to nationalistic fervour than the comparatively mundane story of Joseph of Arimathea bringing Christianity to England and founding its first church at Glastonbury. In the poetic section of William Blake's preface to some early editions of his epic poem Milton (1804), the four stanzas now known as ‘Jerusalem’ demonstrate the political and the literary elide in a work whose value to English nationalism and to the British Empire would be hard to overestimate since being set to music by Sir Hubert Parry in 1916. The examples discussed include Empire Day (24 May); the ‘Jam and Jerusalem’ of the Women's Institute; English national sporting anthems (football, cricket, and, most recently, as the official national anthem, chosen by public vote, for the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi); its triumphant appearance on the Order of Service for the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey in April 2011; and its use in the Opening Ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games.

Keywords: William Blake; epic poem; Joseph; English nationalism; British Empire; Hubert Parry; Christianity; Jesus

Chapter.  10046 words. 

Subjects: Biblical Studies ; Religious Studies

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