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"There'll Always Be an England" is an British patriotic song, written and distributed in the summer of 1939, but which became highly popular upon the outbreak of World War II. It was composed and written by Ross Parker & Harry Parr Davies. The words were written by Hugh Charles, and the most popular version was sung by Vera Lynn.

The song first appeared in Discoveries, a 1939 film by Carroll Levis, where it was sung by the boy soprano Glyn Davies. After war broke out on September 1, the song became a hit for Vera Lynn. Within the first two months of the war, 200,000 copies of the sheet music were sold.[1]

By the following year, the words of the song had become particularly resonant. Most of Europe was under Nazi occupation and Britain stood alone, and the possibility of England being free for "always" (or even for the coming year) was far from self-evident. The outlying parts of the British Empire — and especially such dominions as Canada, Australia and New Zealand — seemed the only base of support on which Britain could rely, with the United States still neutral and the Soviet Union holding to its 1939 Non-Aggression Pact with Germany.

The repetition of "England shall be free" can be considered a rephrasing of the famous "Britons never, never, never shall be slaves" in "Rule, Britannia!" — a song already two centuries old at the time of writing. But under the considerations of clear and manifest danger in late 1940, the British public was evidently willing to enthusiastically embrace such grossly martial images as "A million marching feet".

Significantly, the song does not speak about "There'll Always Be a Britain" or about Britain being "always free" (Although it does refer to the colours of the Union Flag), However 'England' was an acceptable substitute for 'Britain' in a poetic sense at the time

A version of this song was sung by Tiny Tim at the 1970 Isle of Wight Festival. The punk band The Sex Pistols are also famous for entering on stage to this tune. It is also the name of their only live DVD.

The song is played in episode #25 (aka "Spam") of Monty Python's Flying Circus, during the link scene where the chaplain is removed from the Ypres 1914 sketch and transported to the Hospital for Over-Actors.

Notes

  1. ^ Seidenberg, Steven, Maurice Sellar and Lou Jones (1995). You Must Remember This: Songs at the Heart of the War. Boxtree. ISBN 9780752210650. See pp. 28-29.

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