Monday, October 27, 2008


Music, being identical with heaven,
isn't a thing of momentary thrills,
or even hourly ones.
It's a condition of eternity.
-Gustav Holst

The English composer Gustav Holst was interested in Hindu mysticism and spirituality, and this was to influence his later works, including Sita (1899–1906, a three-act opera based on an episode in the Ramayana), Sāvitri, a chamber opera based on a tale from the Mahabharata, and Hymns from the Rig Veda, in preparation for which he took lessons in Sanskrit at University College London and acquired enough understanding to be able to make his own adaptations of Sanskrit texts. Holst was also interested in socialism, astrology (he regularly gave readings for people) and the gnostic gospels.

I Vow to Thee, My Country is a British patriotic song created in 1921 when a poem by Cecil Spring-Rice was set to music by Gustav Holst, who adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets. Though some have criticised the song's apparent nationalism, the final part is a call to a loyalty beyond that for ones' country; it evokes the heavenly realm of the Goddess, whose 'king' is Lord Shiva, the unseen, Eternal Self. The last two lines are from the Book of Proverbs, ascribed to King Solomon, which describe Wisdom as a Feminine aspect of God.

And there's another Country
I've heard of long ago,
Most Dear to them that Love her,
most Great to them that Know.
We may not count her Armies.
We may not see her King.
Her Fortress is a faithful Heart;
her Pride is Suffering.
And Soul by Soul and silently,
her shining Bounds increase
And her ways are ways of Gentleness
and all her paths are Peace

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