Our National Anthem is not a solo
Monday Morning Meditation
With Rev Dr J Emmette Weir
Today's memory verse: "Blessed is the nation where God is the Lord.
The people he chose for his inheritance."
There can be not a shadow of a doubt that our proximity to the United States of America is a major cultural hazard!
For, too often it is the case that we adopt customs of the people of our "great neighbor to the north" in an uncritical manner, mimicking them without reflecting upon whether they are relevant to our culture.
Take for instance one very important expression of our sovereignty the singing of our national anthem.
Whereas, traditionally, it has been our custom as a people to sing the national anthem together, the practice has developed in the United States for just one person to sing it while the others silently stand until he/she "has done it!"
How often have we watched major games on American TV when just one person sang their national anthem, while thousands of athletes and "fans" stood silently, in some cases, bursting out in applause when the soloist has done his/her part.
Well, much to my concern, I have noticed that more and more, step-by-step, we as a people are adopting this American practice rather than continuing our tradition of singing together our national anthem.
So, just as is the case in the United States, most of our sporting events begin with just one person singing our national anthem while others silently listen to him/her.
Likewise, at the huge crowded political rallies leading up to the recent general elections, one person sang the national anthem. How much more effective would it have been if the multitudes present united.
The use of this approach at sporting events is alarming enough! But what is most disturbing is that it is a trend which is gradually seeping into virtually all our public gatherings.
Several years ago, I attended a ceremony at no less a place than Government House when a young lady sang our national anthem while those of us in the audience silently stood listening to this solo performance of the song, designed to unite us all who live in these fair "Isles of June!'
As I stood there in the audience gathered for this most auspicious event in this citadel of our nation, the place par excellence of the expression of our Bahamian national ethos, I could not help thinking what a far cry this was from our traditional practice of the corporate singing of our national anthem!
I recall growing up as a school boy, learning to sing our (British) national anthem with pride at school assemblies, and on all occasions of great importance - at special concerts, church services and ... at the beginning of games!
Yes, we all had to sing the national anthem.
Indeed, I vividly recall one teacher, of blessed memory, drilling us in making the distinction between "Our Queen" and "The Queen" in singing our national anthem.
I also recall that when I served in Jamaica as a young minister of the Gospel, it was customary for everyone to sing, with pride, the Jamaican national anthem (which, incidentally, was written by a Jamaican Methodist Minister, the late Rev. Dr. "Father" Hugh Sherlock!).
Indeed, I can never forget attending a function in Kingston, Jamaica back in the early 70s, when I was called upon to lead in the singing of the national anthem as some members of the audience could not remember its words!
Concisely, as a clergyman, I was expected to know the Jamaican national anthem! Imagine, then my great sense of pride when, soon after returning home, it was my privilege to sing "our own" Bahamian national anthem.
It had special meaning for me, not only because I had been nurtured in the singing of the British Commonwealth anthem in my childhood and the Jamaican national anthem in my youth, but also because its author was none other than my former teacher, the highly respected Timothy Gibson!
Well do I remember July 10, 1973 when I joined with my fellow Bahamians in singing our national anthem for the first time!
In those days, we all did joyfully sing our national anthem ... together!!!'
It grieves my heart, therefore. to attend national ceremonies today to witness the spectacle of one person singing our national anthem.
Surely, the ancient custom of singing the national anthem as a group is much more meaningful than this custom of letting one person render it as if it were a solo to "show off" his/her talent!
The national anthem of a people is intended to foster patriotism and unity. Its spirit is caught up in the words of our national anthem, in which we are exhorted to "Lift up your heads to the rising sun" and to "pledge to excel through love and unity."
Yes, our national anthem gives expression to the highest and most notable ideals to which we should aspire as a people.
As such, it should be sung by us all when we meet, united in singing our national anthem, whether it be at Government House or in church or in a hotel or ... on the playing field!
Concisely, our national anthem is not a solo to be appreciated but a song in which we should participate in rendering the superb corporate expression of our national consciousness ... our "Bahamianess."
Let us, then, reject this practice of allowing one person to sing and "go back" to our tradition of singing together our national anthem!
© 2012 The Freeport News