'Rule, Britannia' began as a poem, written by the Scottish poet James Thomson. The English composer Thomas Augustine Arne set the poem to music for the masque 'Alfred', which was about Alfred the Great. It was first performed in 1740 at Cliveden House, Maidenhead, in the presence of Frederick Prince of Wales, the eldest son of George II. The first public performance of 'Rule, Britannia' was in1745, in London, and it was an instant success. This British patriotic song is still hugely popular today and evokes a sense of pride in our great nation whenever it is played. Traditionally an arrangement of 'Rule, Britannia' is always performed at the Last Night of the Proms.
When Britain first, at heaven's command,
Arose from out the azure main,
This was the charter of the land,
And guardian angels sang this strain:
|:Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves! Britons never, never, never shall be slaves! :|
The nations not so blest as thee Must, in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish great and free:
The dread and envy of them all.
Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each foreign stroke;
As the loud blast that tears the skies,
Serves but to root thy native oak.
Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame; All their attempts to bend thee down
Will but arouse thy generous flame,
To work their woe, and thy renown.
To thee belongs the rural reign;
Thy cities shall with commerce shine;
All thine shall be the subject main,
And every shore it circles thine.
The Muses, still with freedom found,
Shall to thy happy coast repair.
Blest isle! With matchless beauty crowned,
And manly hearts to guard the fair.
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