Westminster Quarters & Rule Britannia

Thomas Augustine Arne
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page one of Westminster Quarters & Rule Britannia

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Full details

I've put two musical icons of Britain together just for fun.

Westminster Quarters are known as the Chimes of Big Ben. The clock tower in which the great Tenor Bell Big Ben himself resides is in fact Westminster Clock Tower. The bells based on the sequence GCDG chime the quarter hours, half hours and hours. They are often featured on broadcast news programmes.

The poem "Rule Britannia" by James Thomson (1700-48) was put to music by Thomas Augustine Arne (1710-1778) around 1740 and is, these days, sung as an unofficial national anthem.

The song was included in Alfred, a masque about Alfred the Great co-written by Thomson and David Mallet and first performed at Cliveden, the country home of Frederick, Prince of Wales, to celebrate the accession of King George I and the birthday of the Princess Augusta.

The verses are below.

I have written my version of this famous tune for the Piano. Like many various arrangements over the centuries it is not purely the original song verbatim, but like sir Malcolm Sargent�s orchestral arrangement, - the widely accepted Sir Henry Wood Proms version, - it has borrowed broadly known bits it has acquired via popular usage.

When Britain first at Heav'n's command Arose from out the azure main; This was the charter of the land, And guardian angels sang this strain;

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.

The nations not so blest as thee, Shall in their turns to tyrants fall; While thou shalt flourish great and free, The dread and envy of them all.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.

Still more majestic shalt thou rise, More dreadful from each foreign stroke; As the loud blast that tears the skies, Serves but to root thy native oak.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.

Thee haughty tyrants ne'er shall tame, All their attempts to bend thee down Will but arouse thy generous flame; But work their woe, and thy renown.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.

To thee belongs the rural reign; Thy cities shall with commerce shine; All thine shall be the subject main, And every shore it circles thine.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.

The Muses, still with freedom found, Shall to thy happy coast repair; Blest Isle! With matchless beauty crowned, And manly hearts to guide the fair.

Rule, Britannia! Britannia, rule the waves: Britons never shall be slaves.




Score ID
Thomas Augustine Arne
James Thomson
Difficult (Grades 7+)
4 minutes
Solo instrument (Piano)
Classical music

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