Today is the feast of one the most profoundly mythic saints in Christian history, St. George, destroyer of dragons, protectors of maidens, and guardian of the realm of England. Being an Anglophile since at least 1977 when I first read The Silmarillion, I can’t let this day pass without notice and without praise of our Anglo-Saxon Christian ancestors and my present English friends.
According to legend, St. George survived beatings, blistering hot irons, boiling molten lead, being crushed between two spikes, and magical poisons (he even converted the brewing magician to Christianity).
The Roman Provost Datianus finally succeeded in beheading the saint, but the provost’s wife converted to Christianity. Datianus mysteriously spontaneously combusted after the execution of the saint.
This morning in southcentral Michigan, to celebrate the deep traditions of St. George and Christian England, my children and I sang “Jerusalem” with Blake’s lyrics:
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,
Among 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 & pleasant Land
Admittedly, I don’t think Jerusalem will be rebuilt by human hands (English or otherwise), but if the New Jerusalem descends to this earth, I would be perfectly happy to have it land in the shires of England, perhaps somewhere near Glastonbury.
So, tonight, we’ll sign and pray for England again, giving God thanks for the noble and deep heritage of the Anglo-Saxon people (in history, law, art, culture, custom, dignity, manners. . . .), and we might even play a bit of Genesis:
There’s an angel standing in the sun, and he’s crying with a loud voice,
“This is the supper of the mighty One”,
The Lord of Lords,
King of Kings,
Has returned to lead His children home,
To take them to the new Jerusalem.
—”Supper’s Ready,” Genesis, Foxtrot (Peter Gabriel, Tony Banks, Steve Hackett, Phil Collins, and Mike Rutherford), October 6, 1972.