Monday, June 13, 2005

Great Movies with Great Music

Eric Liddell, aka "The Flying Scotsman" whose life was partially depicted in the movie "Chariots of Fire"

Recently I commented on some of the music from the movie "We Were Soldiers". I was sent two articles that give the background of the hymn "The Mansions of the Lord." I had assumed it was an old hymn, though I wasn't sure where I had heard it before. As it turns out, it was sung at Reagan's Funeral, and it was written for the movie "We Were Soldiers".

The other article provides these details:

"A new song written by the movie’s musical director, Nick Glennie-Smith, and director Randall Wallace, “The Mansions of the Lord,” begins the final suite on the soundtrack. This reserved yet moving tribute to fallen sons and daughters has become the unofficial US Army hymn and was even selected as the processional music for the state funeral of Ronald Reagan.... Mr. Wallace would later state that they were so inspired by those who made the courageous choice to serve our country that he and Glennie-Smith wrote the emotionally binding hymn in only ten minutes."


While reading the article on NPR, they had the audio of another hymn that was sung at Reagan's Funeral: "O Love of God, How Strong and True" by C. Hubert Parry. This hymn was written to the melody of another song that played a prominent role in another great movie: "Chariots of Fire" -- "Jerusalem"

Jerusalem - by William Blake

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 and pleasant land.

This poem references the legend that Christ visited England as a young man.
And is considered almost a second British national anthem.

You can listen to this hymn here.

This hymn provided the movie with it's title, and with a moving ending. "Chariots of Fire" remains my favorite movie, and Eric Liddell has been a hero ever since I saw it for the first time. His life after the time covered by the movie was even more moving to discover when I read the book "The Flying Scotsman" (which I believe is out of print, unfortunately, but is still listed on Amazon. In short, he left fame (he was hugely famous in Scotland), and headed off to China as a missionary. He died in a Japanese prison camp. While in that camp, he coached the kids in various sports, but at first refused to do so on Sunday (as he refused to race on Sunday in the Movie), but when he saw that the kids would play on Sunday any way, but would get into fights without him being there, he decided to coach on Sunday after all -- something he would not do for olympic gold, but did to keep kids from getting into trouble in a prison camp.

How's that for a stream of consciousness.