Making Britain great (again?)

Hope and glory

Land of Hope and Glory,
Mother of the free,
How shall we extol thee,
Who are born of thee?
Wider still, and wider,
Shall thy bounds be set;
God, who made thee mighty,
Make thee mightier yet!
God, who made thee mighty, Make thee mightier yet!

On Saturday, we missed the “Last night at the Proms” so watched it a few days later on “catchup”. Traditionally, the last part of the last night’s concert is full of patriotism, as they sing, “Land of hope and Glory”, “Rule Britannia”, “Jerusalem” and the national anthem.

Land of hope and glory?

I have been thinking about the song, “Land of Hope and Glory” and must ask myself some questions.

  • Is Britain a land of hope and glory for me?
  • Am I proud to be British?
  • Is it a privilege to be born in Britain?
  • Do we really want to expand our influence in the world?
  • Did God make Britain mighty?
  • What makes a nation great?

Land of opportunity

Firstly I must say that I am proud to be British but even more proud to be a member of the human race. I am indeed fortunate to be born in a wealthy country where there are so many opportunities, but I had no choice, I didn’t ask to be British! But with privilege comes responsibilities.


This song was written over 100 years ago, when the British Empire was at its height. “Wider still, and wider” was an expression of the wish to widen the borders of empire still further. I am a bit wary of the sentiment that God made Britain mighty and will make it even more mighty. Empires rise and fall, the Roman, Babylonian, Greek and Mongol empires are no more. The British empire has come to an end, but that doesn’t mean that we cannot be an influence for good in the world.

Righteousness exalts a nation

Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people. (Proverbs 14:34 – English Standard Version)

What makes a nation great is not the size of its army, not the wealth of its citizens, not the power of its industries, but justice towards its people and to the world. Righteousness is linked to justice in the bible, and sin is linked to injustice. If we really want to say that God has made Britain great, then we have to be an example to the world, and put peace ahead of military might, and look after the desperately poor, the disabled and the disadvantaged in our midst, and throughout the world.

Making Britain great

This is my personal list of things which we could do to make this country (or any country) great and be an example and create a pattern of change for the world.

  • Treat the less able, physically, mentally, or spiritually with respect and make sure that their needs are met.
  • Ensure that there is meaningful, and profitable employment for all according to ability.
  • Tackling extreme poverty throughout the world.
  • Prioritise the research into diseases such as malaria which is such a curse to the people of the world.
  • Ensure that drug companies do not set prices too high, so that anybody can take advantage of medical advances.
  • Voluntarily give up our nuclear weapons and a military policy based on revenge.
  • Concentrate our military strength towards defence rather than attack.
  • Tackle the worst excesses of multi-national companies who avoid taxes by moving money around the world.
  • Deal with tax evasion by the wealthy
  • Do not put the burden of austerity on the poorest.
  • Encouraging a form of capitalism in which everyone becomes more prosperous rather than a few wealthy individuals.
  • Open our borders to create a safe haven for those fleeing war and persecution.
  • Tackle all forms of corruption in our own country and throughout the world.
  • Cherish our democracy while ensuing that our political leaders are called to account for their actions.

I want to be proud to be British again. We have so many privileges but we also have a responsibility to the world. We don’t have to go the way of the Romans or the Babylonians.

Whether we like it, or deserve it, or not, we are looked up to in the world. We can be an influence to the rest of the world. We cannot be an influence by making self-righteous pronouncements. We can be an influence in the world, by example, by getting our own house in order and by the way we treat the rest of the world. Perhaps after all, we can sing, “God … make us mightier yet”! 

Author: George Dowdell

I was the founder of Karuna Action (formerly Kingscare) and was the director for 24 years. I have now handed control over to younger people but continue as an advisor and trustee. My passion is to see extreme poverty eliminated and to see justice for the powerless.

2 thoughts on “Making Britain great (again?)”

  1. Thanks for this post George. I have not been able to sing Land of Hope & Glory for years, as much of it conflicts with my faith – your prescription for making Britain great is much closer to it. I wonder if we could work those words into the Elgar somehow?


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