Pomp and Circumstance, Land of Hope and Glory & “the graduation song”

I’ve absolutely fallen in love with Land of Hope and Glory by Edward Elgar and A.C. Benson, but as it turns out, this massively patriotic English song is bizarrely used at every graduation ceremony in America…

Growing up, I was always aware of The Proms, especially The Last Night of the Proms, but since my Mum didn’t have a love of classical music, it was never something that I watched or ever had a desire to watch.

For some reason unknown to me, last week I ended up watching some of the pieces from The Last Night of the Proms of recent years and I fell in love. I must have listened to Land of Hope and Glory about thirty times, including blasting it out in my car on the way home. Land of Hope and Glory is a song with the words written by A.C. Benson to be sung over the music, Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 by Edward Elgar. It’s a truly patriotic song and easy to see why it caught on so quickly when Elgar played it for Queen Victoria in 1901.

Have a watch and see why it’s such a national favourite and also see a bit of the quirky behaviour that is traditional at The Proms including bobbing up and down, waving flags, letting balloons off with pinched necks, the encore, the humour and the celebrations all over the country.

In my euphoria of enjoying the song, I came to learn quite a lot about it, including it being proposed as England’s national anthem, which I wholeheartedly support (this is distinct from the British national anthem, God Save the Queen).

I also played it for an American friend, who instantly recognised it as “the graduation song”. This was echoed by some other Americans that I followed up with. As it turns out, Elgar’s friendship with an American music professor at Yale is to blame for Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1 becoming “the graduation song”.

Learn more about The Last Night of the Proms

Author: Dave

Dave is many things. Most importantly, he's a husband and a father to Ellie and Jack. Almost as important, he's British (though he lives in Florida). Following on from there, he's a WordPress developer and civil engineer, has an unhealthy love of hummus, is vegan, likes cider, wants to travel to Iceland and Japan, loves solving puzzles and is a realist.

Leave a Reply