Mon | Nov 20, 2017

Letter of the Day | Revise national anthem from begging hymn

Published:Tuesday | July 11, 2017 | 12:00 AM

THE EDITOR, Sir:

Have you noticed that very few Jamaicans pay our national anthem due respect when it is played or sung at public assemblies? Our people heedlessly slouch, sit, continue talking and laughing, and vending. Nowadays, it is only regarded with pride whenever it is played at global sports competitions.

The reason for its disregard is clear. It was appropriate in our earlier days when our people were Independence-conscious. The words of the Jamaican national anthem were written by Hugh Braham Sherlock and the music composed by Robert Charles Lightbourne and arranged by Mapletoft Poulle. But it is a begging hymn composed by a deeply religious gentleman, and deservingly thanks to him for the noble intent of the words, as well as to Lightbourne and Poulle for its glorious melody.

 

IT IS A BEGGING HYMN

 

I repeat that it is a begging hymn, asking God to do what He has already provided for us: "Teach us true respect for all;" "Stir response to duty's call;" and so on. But God had inspired some ancient wise men to write a Guide Book, and provides us with preachers, teachers, motivators, leaders and resources, yet in our national anthem we continue to ask, and to beg for what He, The Almighty, has already provided for us to be taught, and what we ought to do by ourselves. No wonder we are in such dire straits.

"Those who have ears, let them hear," Christ is recorded to have said. There is not a single sentence of inspiration in our national anthem to call our people to unite and plan and work to make ourselves a prosperous and truly independent nation.

If we were to do a survey of Jamaicans in offices, in high schools, at the University of the West Indies and other universities, at the workplace and on the street, we would realise the shocking fact that a very small percentage of our people, even in our schools, are able to recite or sing the anthem from memory.

 

INEFFECTIVE

 

This uninspiring, begging hymn of ours is sadly losing effect. Time for a new national anthem with the same glorious music is now due.

How about:

We are out to build a new Jamaica,

Jamaica, land we love.

We are out to build a new Jamaica,

Under God, we are proud pioneers.

Let us join our hearts and hands.

For peace and prosperity in our land.

We ought to build a new Jamaica,

Under God, Jamaica, land we love.

(Plain and simple, wherein every Jamaican, big and small, here and abroad, proudly regards self as a pioneer, a number one Jamaican, a first-class person, for the peace and prosperity of Jamaica.)

OREN O. COUSINS

Retired School Principal

ahtonero@gmail.com