Sunday, 3 August 2008

Theme tunes

I have always thought that Zoroastrianism has never really caught on in England—except, of course, in North Devon and parts of Dorset—largely because it doesn't have any good tunes. Every creed, party, society, club or institution should have some noise, musical or other, which believers, adherents, members or subscribers could sing or shout whenever they foregather, but Zoroastrians, or Zarathustrians, as it is fashionable to call them, don't appear to have anything with which they can jolly themselves along.

Among their beliefs they have the concepts of asha, (truth and order) and its antithesis druj (falsehood and disorder), so it might be a good plan for them to devise a chant, something like a college yell, along the lines of:
Asha rules, down with Druj! Zoro! Zoro! Zoro!

Everyone should know at least a few of the words of the traditional morale-boosters in case they find themselves among a crowd of people singing one of them and do not wish to remain mumchance and thus give themselves away as spies, heretics or gatecrashers, so here are some of the important ones:

The Internationale (1870, lyrics Eugène Pottier, music Pierre De Geyter) is a useful one to know because it serves or served as the anthem of the International Socialist Movement, the International Anarchist Movement, the International Communist Movement and the International Democratic Movement. Here it is in a variety of languages, but it is best to learn the original French words and these four lines will be sufficient:
C'est la lutte finale
Groupons-nous et demain
Sera le genre humain.

Then there's The Red Flag, written by Irishman Jim Connell in 1889, normally sung to the tune of the German carol O Tannenbaum. It was adopted as the Labour Party's anthem when the party was founded but is rarely sung nowadays and you can easily pass as a member (though few would want to) just by mouthing it as if you knew the words. Actually, the words are quite inspiring, if you like that sort of thing:
The people's flag is deepest red,
It shrouded oft our martyr'd dead
And ere their limbs grew stiff and cold,
Their hearts' blood dyed its ev'ry fold.
Then raise the scarlet standard high,
Within its shade we'll live and die,
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer,
We'll keep the red flag flying here.

No-one nowadays would want to sing the charming We are the Ovaltineys (.wma) or the vile Horst Wessel Lied so let's move on to the sacred numbers. There are too many of these to list so here are just three:

I couldn't find a link to a decent audiofile of Cwm Rhondda but everyone knows this mighty tune and if you want them to keep a welcome in the hillsides you could always learn the original words:
Arglwydd, arwain trwy'r anialwch,
Fi, bererin gwael ei wedd,
Nad oes ynof nerth na bywyd
Fel yn gorwedd yn y bedd:
Hollalluog, Hollalluog,
Ydyw'r Un a'm cwyd i'r lan.
Ydyw'r Un a'm cwyd i'r lan

This is not a good time to select an anthem for the C of E (though Through the Night of Doubt and Sorrow comes to mind), so let Protestantism, if not Anglicanism, be represented by that jolly hymn the Sally Army used to sing and perhaps still do. Sadly, I could find only a dreary midi file of the catchy tune.
Whosoever heareth, shout, shout the sound!
Spread the blessed tidings all the world around;
Spread the joyful news wherever man is found:
Whosoever will may come.
Whosoever will, whosoever will,
Send the proclamation over vale and hill;
Tis a loving Father calls the wand’rer home:
Whosoever will may come.

Of course, the Roman Catholics have their own song, and a cheerful little ditty it is too.

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