Lead us not into uncredited appropriation

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This year’s version of the Nation’s Prayer (see last post) must be the least successful yet given England’s performance. Someone in Costa Rica must have written a very strong version.

Nevertheless, the prayer had an interesting life, in a story that ended with a Sun journalist reading the prayer out (uncredited) to a congregation of England fans beneath the statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio. There’s an entertaining film of it here but I can’t share it because it’s behind their paywall.

I’ve written the whole story up in this post on Creative Review, touching on some of the wider issues it raises about popular culture and attribution.

One thing I forgot to mention was the reviews the prayer received after it ‘went viral’ via a couple of dodgy accounts on Twitter:

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Properly warms the heart.

Thanks to everyone who ordered the prayer card (sorry, no refunds) and shared it on Twitter or elsewhere. Thanks also to Creative Review for spotting that The Sun had used it, to Stig Abell at The Sun for putting it right and making a donation to Street League, and to Tim Rich of 66000milesperhour.com for some helpful advice along the way.

We may return for Euro 2016, if England make it.

Top image copyright 2012 News Group Newspapers Ltd

The Nation's Prayer 2014

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Following no popular demand and one explicit request not to do it, we’ve decided to release a new version of The Nation’s Prayer to mark the impending 2014 World Cup. This year, we have chosen to go one step further and produce some prayer cards that you can buy and place strategically alongside your remote control and chosen beer.

If you remember, we first came up with The Nation’s Prayer in 2010 (read it here) and released an updated version for Euro 2012 (here). It’s written in the tradition of the Bus Driver’s Prayer, of unknown origin but popularised by Ian Dury.

This year has presented a particular challenge as there remains a chance Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain may be replaced at the last minute, which will present an existential threat to line 5. We’ll have to deal with this if and when it happens.

Keen sports fans will notice there is no place in the poetic starting line-up for reserve keepers Ben Foster and Fraser Forster, nor for Gary Cahill, Phil Jagielka, Chris Smalling and Luke Shaw. This will be embarrassing if Gary Cahill goes on to score a hat-trick in the final, but we will take that risk.

Prayer cards are sized 127mm x 76mm and come in a protective plastic sleeve, the way prayer cards do. They cost 66p.

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Think of England and order yours here.

Oh Ashley

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It got covered on the Guardian and Telegraph sports blogs and in Sabotage Times, and even spread as far as the Yorkshire Fishing community messageboard – the premier angling website in Yorkshire. But to no avail. Back with a new version in 2014, if we qualify.

The Nation's Prayer 2012

The Nation's Prayer 2010

The Nation's Prayer 2012

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We are badge-kissingly proud to present this poem and downloadable mini-poster for the Euro 2012 championship, which kicks off this evening.

The poem is an update of a version I wrote two years ago for the World Cup, which was itself inspired by Ian Dury’s Bus Driver’s Prayer.

Working on something like this adds an extra frisson to news reports about squad selection and injuries. The surprise call-up of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain posed what looked like an insuperable problem. Ledley King is also much missed from the previous version. That said, I was glad to see Leighton Baines in the squad and have been praying he avoids a last-minute injury. Sports-related poetry is a stressful business.

The poem proved remarkably ineffective last time, but who knows, this year could be different. We can but hope. And pray.

The power of prayer

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Hope Jim Davies has better luck.

The Nation's Prayer

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Here's a prayer in anticipation of Sunday's match. Background and inspiration here

You can download and print your own version if you like (landscape format).

Godspeed, England.

The Nation's Prayer – Background

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Yesterday morning, The Partners produced this beautifully simple England poster.

Yesterday afternoon, their prayers were answered: England beat Slovenia and will now play Germany on the 27 June – a Sunday.

That got me wondering about writing a prayer for England, which in turn brought to mind the Bus Driver's Prayer, of unknown origin, but immortalised by Ian Dury. Frith Kerr made this lovely poster out of it for the 2009 London Design Festival:

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All of which eventually led me to write a similar thing involving the current England squad. Sue has turned it into a poster, which I'm about to stick up in the next post.