[lit-ideas] The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice

  • From: "" <dmarc-noreply@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> (Redacted sender "Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx" for DMARC)
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Thu, 22 May 2014 07:12:10 -0400 (EDT)

L. H. and O. K. were discussing various 'senses' (or 'uses') of  
'sacrifice'. I should add this -- I like the tune! The sublime Jupiter  suite 
Holst, and a devil to sing -- presumably because the melody was never  meant to 
be _sung_. Whose idea was to turn the melody into a song? A politician! 
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.
The origin of the lyric is a poem by diplomat Cecil Spring Rice, which he  
wrote in 1908 while posted to the British Embassy in Stockholm. Then called 
Urbs  Dei (The City of God) or The Two Fatherlands, the poem described how a 
Christian  owes his loyalties to both his homeland and the heavenly 
kingdom. The lyrics  were in part based upon the motto of the Spring family, 
whom Spring Rice  was descended. The first verse, as originally composed, had 
an overtly patriotic  stance, which typified its pre-first world war era.
The things are not so easy. Apparently, then, Spring Rice had no idea what  
melody the thing would fit, and meant the thing to be recited, back in 
1908,  where the reference to the final sacrifice is made -- or rather the ref
erence to  the LOVE that makes undaunted the final sacrifice. And it may do to 
analyse, in  one way or another, how to expand the line in a paraphrase of 
What happened with the Jupiter thing is a later thing: 1921. In 1921,  
Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite The  
Planets to create a setting for the poem. 
The music was EXTENDED slightly to fit the final two lines of the  first 
the love that never falters, the love that pays the price
the love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.
At the request of the publisher Curwen, Holst made a version as a unison  
song with orchestra (Curwen also published Sir Hubert Parry's unison song 
with  orchestra, Jerusalem). 
This was probably first performed in 1921 and became a common element at  
Armistice memorial ceremonies, especially after it was published as a hymn in 
Holst in 1926 harmonised the tune to make it usable as a hymn, which was  
included in the hymnal Songs of Praise.
In that version the lyrics were unchanged, but the tune was then called  
Thaxted (named after the village where Holst lived for many years). The editor 
 of the new (1926) edition of Songs of Praise was Holst's close friend 
Ralph  Vaughan Williams, which may have provided the stimulus for Holst's 
cooperation  in producing the hymn.
Holst's daughter Imogen recorded:
"At the time when my father was asked to set these words to music, he was  
so over-worked and over-weary that he felt relieved to discover they 
'fitted'  the tune from Jupiter".

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