Thursday 19 July 2018

Militaristic anthems are an emotive bloody mess

U2 on stage at Croke Park . Pic Steve Humphreys
U2 on stage at Croke Park . Pic Steve Humphreys

John Masterson

Music stirs the passions. And much of the time we do not pay much attention to the words. Anthems get a crowd going, whether it is U2 being joined by 80,000 people for One, or Kodaline being joined by the entire audience on High Hopes.

I identify with Richard Dawkins when he says that despite his atheism the sound of a hymn from his teenage choirboy days still has a profound emotional effect on him. It is why many of us make the annual pilgrimage to a Christmas carol service.

The great Arthur Sullivan wrote some powerful hymns. Having been subjected to a Protestant schooling I cannot hear Onward Christian Soliders without wanting to go on a Crusade. Catholics missed out on a great tune there. If I was producing the Pope's event I would still use it as an opener as the audience would get it in two bars and it would be a piece of cake from then on.

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