Give us this day all that you showed me // The power and the glory // ‘Til my kingdom comes – the song Hymn by Ultravox is one of my favorite tracks of the 1980’s overall. More than that, the song strongly reminds me of a time much later, events which strongly influenced my life fourteen years later. Hymn is a song, which I today still strongly correlate to these events. The perfect starter to a new category on Flyctory.com, Songs Of My Life. I hope you enjoy this posting.
In this new category Songs Of My Life I want to be very personal, tell you stories about myself based on songs, which played a special role in my life. Sometimes, I just feel to share a good song with you. Of course, I will also tell you about the story of the song itself. Hope you enjoy 🙂
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Ultravox – Hymn: The Story of The Song
Hymn is released on 19th November 1982 (which is by the way the first Friday after my fourth birthday). Ultravox had a turbulent time after they have been founded in the mid-1974 in London. The band originally named Tiger Lily already felt like breaking up again, but Midge Ure, the leader of the band at that time, managed to revitalize the project in 1979. The title track of the first album after that is a world-wide hit, being Top 10 in multiple markets in Europe: Vienna. Together with Warren Cann, Chris Cross and Billy Currie, the band had its most successful time between 1979 and 1986.
Hymn was the second single by Ultravox, which made it to the Top 10 in some markets, namely Germany and Switzerland. The corresponding album Quartet received golden record status in the UK, but could not really connect to the two previous ones, Rage in Eden (1981) and the already mentioned 1980 Vienna. The song deals with political powers, but rather in a bad way: corruption, abuse of power. It’s middle part is the strongest reference to it, with quotes like All that’s good will fall from grace or Different words said in different ways // Have other meanings from he who says in out time. The word “hymn” does not appear in the lyrics at all, the melody of the song is indeed written like a hymn, an anthem, though.
After Hymn, Ultravox had another big hit in 1986, Dancing With Tears in My Eyes, which also had some commercial success in the USA. The most outstanding artist by Ultravox was definitely Midge Ure, who topped the UK charts with If I Was in 1985. You should not mix up Hymn by Ultravox with Hymn by Barclay James Harvest, by the way – the British band had an airplay hit with the same title in 1977.
Due to the catching melody and maybe also that the lyrics do not contain the word “hymn”, you might know a few covers of the song without knowing the original song. From a German perspective, the most prominent one is likely Hymn by Music Instructor, which received a golden record in Germany in 1995. A very different interpretation is the other cover I included below, a metal cover by the German band Edguy.
Ultravox – Hymn: My Story of The Song
My story related to Hymn is happening almost fourteen years later. 1996, summer holidays, my parents have been on vacation the year before I would complete my A-Level at the Gymnasium (German High School, roughly) in St. Augustin near Bonn. I was meeting more or less daily with a friend of mine to watch the Altanta Olympic Games (look at my posting about the Olympic venues nowadays), starting in the afternoon hours with rowing and the “morning disciplines” and ending up with the big events like athletics. It has also been the time during which I collected the Time Life 80’s Collection, a monthly subscription series of CDs which featured the 1980’s. The 1982 2-CD of course featured Hymn by Ultravox. Only during that week, I easily listened to the track fifty times.
Why I relate Hymn to Tennis
The reason why this song became so special to me was about the special things happening in Atlanta 1996 finally. Some of you might remember the 200m sprint world record by Michael Johnson, the opening ceremony with Muhammad Ali or the four golden medals by Amy Van Dyken. My life, however changed by the events happening at the Stone Mountain Tennis Center. Leander Paes (see my post about him), the 23 year old Indian, won the Bronze medal and by that was the first Indian at all since 1952 who won an Olympic medal at an individual sports competition.
Paes, who had not qualified to the men’s singles tennis tournament bracket by ranking, but solely by a wildcard, beat Richey Reneberg (USA), Nicolas Pereira (Venezuela), third-seeded Thomas Enquist (Sweden) and Italian Renzo Furlan to advance to the semi-final, where he lost against former gold meal Andre Agassi (USA). In the Bronze Medal Match, he already trailed one set against Braziliean Fernando Meligeni, before he turned the match with a seriously injured wrist.
This was the moment when I fell in love and admiration to Leander Paes and, the more I got into him and the team’s performance, Indian Davis Cup tennis. Since now (see for example by India-Serbia Davis Cup coverage), I am supporting the team, even though Leander Paes had announced to retire in 2020. Covid-19 took him the opportunity to play the Tokyo Olympics in 2020 (which would have been a tough qualification for him, realistically). Hymn is thus not only reminding me of his outstanding 1996 performance at Atlanta, but is a song, which closely connects to Leander’s career, meeting him, supporting him in difficult times and being close friend of the Indian tennis and the Davis Cup team.
Ultravox – Hymn: The Song on Spotify
Here is the link to Spotify, if you want to listen to it on that platform: