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




Lyrics submitted by thedanman344

Jerusalem song meanings
Add your thoughts

4 Comments

sort form View by:
  • +1
    General CommentThat;s what I thought too, but it seems this is held as a patriotic song in England, judging from the odd reference I've heard to it. Combined with the tune I think it's very uplifting... definitely a lot better than their dreary "God Save the Queen"
    komodospon September 22, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThe speaker starts out by asking the questions of whether Jesus ever set foot in England, whether Jerusalem was built there, etc. To which the obvious answer is no. Then the speaker goes on request battle gear and declares that he will fight "Till we have built Jerusalem in England's green and pleasant land".

    This is clearly a criticism of those who kill in the name of Christianity as though it is some exclusive club to which Englanders can only be members, even though those same people are not his 'chosen people' either.
    detachment2702on July 23, 2008   Link
  • 0
    General CommentThis is a hymn based on a poem by William Blake. The poem wonders if heaven once existed in this place now polluted by the Industrial Age, and asks whether heaven may one day return to England.

    In England the song is considered very patriotic.
    jcovarruon January 10, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Comment“Jerusalem” is a poem written by William Blake in 1804. The music was composed by Hubert Parry about a century later. It quickly became a sort of English anthem. ELP is not responsible for either the words or music.

    I think the imagery of the first two lines (i.e. of feet upon mountains in ancient times) recalls another poem about Jerusalem from ancient times, one found in Isaiah 52:7:

    “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the messenger who announces peace, who brings good news…”

    Christians interpreted this as a foretelling of Jesus who brought the good news ( = “Gospel”). I don’t think one should be so specific as to reference it to the Sermon on the Mount, or the Mount of Transfiguration, or Mount Zion, or Golgotha, though each might be valid.

    Blake is also making an allusion to folklore that tells of Jesus traveling to England with his uncle, Joseph of Arimathea. I wouldn’t put much stock in the historicity of that account, and Blake didn’t really do more than question the assertions of that tale. Blake’s real interest is not in looking backwards and laying claim to England’s superior Christian ancestry. (Nor is he looking forward to some “Sweet By and By” salvation.) Blake’s focus is on the immediate condition of England. Do the dark satanic mills refer to the blight of the industrial revolution? The grind of the organized church? Something else? All of the above? I suspect the organized church but am not sure. In any event, Blake is calling for action here and now.

    The bow and arrows and spear recall the “whole armor of God” in Ephesians 7:11-17. The Chariot of Fire (in 2 Kings 2:11) took Elijah to heaven in a whirlwind. I think Blake is saying we must not rest until we have transformed our society and built our heaven, our new Jerusalem, here on earth (in England).
    evanderon April 01, 2009   Link

Add your thoughts

Log in now to tell us what you think this song means.

Don’t have an account? Create an account with SongMeanings to post comments, submit lyrics, and more. It’s super easy, we promise!

Back to top
explain