England and Empire
The period from 1875 to 1915 has been called the Age of Empire. During that time, the countries that were well-developed economic and military powers carved up the rest of the world into colonial territories. The word "imperialism" was coined in the late 1870s to describe what was happening. The chief empire-building nations were France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United States, Japan--and Great Britain, the most successful of them all. By the time of the 1897 Diamond Jubilee celebrating the sixtieth year of Queen Victoria's rule, her Empire contained one-quarter of the world's population.
Many of England's people felt sense of unrivaled national importance. Explorers and soldiers were honored in newspapers, songs, and stories. Boys' magazines, in particular, played endless variations on the theme of conquest and adventure. "Empire Day" on Mat 24 was celebrated with flags and school treats that made it a vastly popular holiday for children.
The words are by Arthur Benson; they were set to music by Edward Elgar in 1902. Try signing the four-line chorus to the tune familiar as the "Graduation March" or "Pomp and Circumstance."
Dear Land of Hope, thy hope is crowned,
God make thee mightier yet!
On Sov'ran brows, beloved, renowned,