On Song for Centenary Celebrations

June 8th 2016

Beamish will celebrate 100 years of the popular hymn, Jerusalem, with a mass sing-along and Suffragette rallies on The 1900s Town street this weekend.

WI Centenary at Beamish Museum

The museum has been working with Durham University to celebrate the centenary and the enduring legacy that the song’s composer, Sir Hubert Parry, had on music across the country.

Musical performances are planned in The Town and The Pit Village at the event on Saturday, 11th June. Visitors will also have the chance to speak to the Secretary of Beamish WI, the only museum-based institute in the country.

Professor Jeremy Dibble from Durham University will be sharing his knowledge of Parry and the contribution he made to British music. Professor Dibble said: “It is such a pleasure to be involved in this event and to celebrate the huge contribution that Hubert Parry’s stirring music has made to establishing ‘Jerusalem’, an enduring favourite in England.

“The history around Parry’s involvement with ‘Jerusalem’ is not always well known but it is him that we must thank for one of our most treasured and recognisable hymns. His music, combined with William Blake’s words captured the hearts of a nation and raised the public spirit at a time of great struggle.

“Now, 100 years on, it is still as captivating and as moving, showing just what a talented composer he really was.”

Visitors will be able to take part in a lively Suffragette rally on Beamish’s Town street at 10:30am, 12:30pm, 2:30pm and 3:30pm and find out more about the women’s movement.

There will be fantastic musical performances by the St James Singers of Selby, Compass Acapella, Tyneside Acapella and groups from Durham University throughout the day. Plus visitors can make a flag in the school in The Pit Village to wave during the mass sing-along at 2pm.

Gemma Stevenson, Community Events Officer and Beamish WI President, said: “We’re delighted to host the celebration of the centenary of Jerusalem in partnership with Durham University. I hope everyone will come along and get involved with the huge sing-along, Suffragette rallies and to find out more about the history of this song and the WI.

“Beamish WI is the only museum-based institute in the country and so this is an extra special event for us to be hosting.”

Sir Hubert Parry wrote the music for Jerusalem on 10th March 1916 and the lyrics from the poem written by William Blake in 1804 were added to Parry’s music for the “Fight for Right” movement during the First World War. The movement was formed to sustain the resolve of Britain during the war.

Jerusalem became synonymous with the fight for women’s enfranchisement after Parry conducted it for the ladies of the Albert Hall choir in 1917. A year later, the song was performed at a suffrage demonstration concert and it was decided it would become the hymn of the Women Voters – Jerusalem was adopted by the Women’s Institute in 1924.

In 1922 Edward Elgar made his own orchestration of the accompaniment and it is this version that is now more commonly used.