Why Jerusalem?

We are not a WI who choose to sing Jerusalem at every meeting.  However, we did at our annual meeting on Tuesday and Margaret Wallace reported on her investigations on why Jerusalem has become the WI ‘anthem’.  She promised to let us have her notes for the website … so here they are …

Taken from St Helens, Lancs, website and confirmed on the NFWI website:

When the WI was looking for a theme song around the year 1924, Grace Hadow, NFWI vice chairman, suggested ‘Jerusalem’. Her main reason was the rousing music. No one could come up with anything better, so the song was formally accepted and has been sung at our meetings ever since.

The tune was composed at the end of the first world war, when with countless deaths and a very uncertain outlook for the country everyone was depressed. The poet laureate, Robert Bridges had found the verses written some 100 years previously by the poet William Bake, whilst staying in his cottage at Felpham and more or less forgotten in the years between.

Bridges approached the composer, Hubert Parry, to ask him to write some stirring music to go with the words, Edward Elgar later arranged Parry’s music for orchestra. It was liked by everyone including King George V, who, we are told, preferred it to the National Anthem.

Taken from the NFWI website:

Jerusalem had been used by the National Union of Suffrage Societies in the 1918 celebrations of women’s enfranchisement, and many of the leaders of the NFWI, including Grace Hadow, had been part of that struggle to win the vote for women.  Jerusalem was first sung at the AGM, starting a tradition that continues to this day.

 For the whole NFWI article click here.

Margaret Wallace





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