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U.K. Parliament Supports Call To Adopt National Anthem

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

OK, Kelly, can I blow your mind with something I learned today?

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Sure.

SHAPIRO: England does not have its own national anthem about England.

MCEVERS: Huh?

SHAPIRO: Seriously. Other countries in the United Kingdom do. Like Wales has a national anthem called "Land Of My Fathers."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "LAND OF MY FATHERS")

SHAPIRO: The Welsh love their male singing choruses. Scottish people have a song all about Scotland. It is called, appropriately, "Flowers Of Scotland."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FLOWERS OF SCOTLAND")

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) Oh, flowers of Scotland.

SHAPIRO: The closest thing England has to a national anthem is "God Save The Queen."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GOD SAVE THE QUEEN")

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) God, save the queen.

SHAPIRO: But here's the thing, "God Save The Queen" is about the entire United Kingdom, not just England. So Toby Perkins, who's a member of Parliament, decided that should be changed.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TOBY PERKINS: And it's often seemed incongruous to me that whilst the Welsh or Scots sing an anthem that reflects their nation's identity, England should sing about Britain. It reflects the sense that we see Britain and England as synonymous.

SHAPIRO: So, Kelly, Parliament has given initial approval for a plan to find an English national anthem.

MCEVERS: What do we think it's going to be?

SHAPIRO: Top contender is an anthem called, strangely enough 'cause it's not an English city, "Jerusalem."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "JERUSALEM")

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) Walk upon England's mountains green.

MCEVERS: Ok, wait, that sounds like they're talking about England's mountains. Why do they call it "Jerusalem?"

SHAPIRO: Well, it's a lyric from a poem by William Blake. A few other choices, "I Vow To Thee, My Country," "Land Of Hope And Glory" Actually, there are lots of patriotic English songs to choose from. But a personal favorite of the staff here at ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, this as a real song, "Roast Beef Of Old England."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "ROAST BEEF OF OLD ENGLAND")

UNIDENTIFIED CHOIR: (Singing) Oh, the roast beef of old England, and old English roast beef.

SHAPIRO: So, Kelly, next time you are at an English rugby match, I want to hear you singing out...

MCEVERS: Right, 'cause I do that all the time.

SHAPIRO: ..."Roast Beef Of Old England." [POST-BROADCAST CORRECTION: In this story about England’s lack of a national anthem, we say that other countries in the United Kingdom have national anthems and mention "Flowers of Scotland." In fact, the song is titled "Flower of Scotland." It is commonly known as an unofficial anthem of Scotland. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Corrected: January 14, 2016 at 12:00 AM EST
In this story about England's lack of a national anthem, we say that other countries in the United Kingdom have national anthems and mention "Flowers of Scotland." In fact, the song is titled "Flower of Scotland." It is commonly known as an unofficial anthem of Scotland.