…Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;”*
*(Wikipedia) “opening lines of second verse of “I Vow to Thee, My Country” a British patriotic hymn, created in 1921, when music by Gustav Holst had a poem by Sir Cecil Spring Rice set to it. The final line of the second verse –
And her ways are ways of gentleness, and all her paths are peace.
– is based on Proverbs 3:17, “Her ways are ways of pleasantness, and all her paths are peace” (KJV), in the context of which the feminine pronoun refers to Wisdom.
Julian Mitchell’s 1981 play “Another Country” and its 1984 film version derive their titles from the words of the second stanza.”
“In 1921, Gustav Holst adapted the music from a section of Jupiter from his suite The Planets to create a setting for the poem. The music was extended slightly to fit the final two lines of the first verse. At the request of the publisher Curwen, Holst made a version as a unison song with orchestra (Curwen also published Sir Hubert Parry‘s unison song with orchestra, “Jerusalem“). This was probably first performed in 1921 and became a common element at Armistice memorial ceremonies, especially after it was published as a hymn in 1926.
In 1926, Holst harmonised the tune to make it usable as a hymn, which was included in the hymnal Songs of Praise. In that version, the lyrics were unchanged, but the tune was then called “Thaxted” (named after the village where Holst lived for many years). The editor of the new (1926) edition of Songs of Praise was Holst’s close friend Ralph Vaughan Williams, which may have provided the stimulus for Holst’s co-operation in producing the hymn.
Holst’s daughter Imogen recorded that, at “the time when he was asked to set these words to music, Holst was so over-worked and over-weary that he felt relieved to discover they ‘fitted’ the tune from Jupiter“.”