The legend of Jesus and Joseph of Arimathea in Britain is carried even to this day through one of the most popular songs in the UK, the Jerusalem hymn. It is considered to be the unofficial national anthem of the UK.
‘Jerusalem’ takes its words from a poem by William Blake and is often put forward as an alternative English national anthem.
It is a popular hymn, sung in churches, schools, as the anthem of the Women’s Institute and at sporting events – particularly rugby matches – across England. Many already consider it to be the unofficial English anthem.
Lyrics of the hymn:
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance Divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Amongst these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold
Bring me my arrows of desire
Bring me my spear: O clouds unfold!
Bring me my Chariot of Fire
I will not cease from mental fight
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land
The poem was originally written in 1804 by William Blake.
The hymn was originally penned as a poem by William Blake in 1804, but the lyrics were added to Parry’s music in 1916 during the gloom of World War I when the uplifting new English hymn was well received.
Sung at the Royal Wedding in 2011:
Of course, scholars do not believe there is any historical basis to Jesus ever visiting Britain.
Most scholars reject the historical authenticity of this story out of hand, and according to British folklore scholar A. W. Smith, “there was little reason to believe that an oral tradition concerning a visit made by Jesus to Britain existed before the early part of the twentieth century”.