A festive car crash

When I was in seminary in the US we were subjected to the deepest of stupidity regarding inclusive language and political correctness.

We were forced to sing "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlefolk".  Even the worst of the progressivists and weirdos were reduced to disgusted hilarity.

Now I read this from the Telegraph via Fr. Longenecker and add my emphases and comments:

Politically correct Christmas carols censor ‘king’, ‘son’ and ‘virgin’

Churches are making traditional Christmas carols politically correct by removing words such as "king", "son" and "virgin", it is claimed.

By Martin Beckford, Religious Affairs Correspondent
Last Updated: 4:54PM GMT 12 Dec 2008

Enduring favourites such as Hark the Herald Angels Sing and God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen are being altered by clergy to make them more "modern and inclusive".

But churchgoers say there is no need to change the popular carols and complain that the result is a "festive car crash" if not everyone is singing from the same hymn sheet.

It comes just a day after a Church of England vicar banned his congregation from singing O Little Town of Bethlehem [How dumb is that?] because he believed its words do not reflect the suffering endured by modern residents of Jesus’s birthplace.

Another clergyman has rewritten the Twelve Days of Christmas to include Aids victims, drug addicts and hoodies.

Steve Goddard, co-editor of the Christian website Ship of Fools, which is running a competition to find the worst example of a rewritten carol, said: "It’s a festive car crash[Gotta look at that!]

"Half the congregation sing familiar words from memory, while the rest stumble over revised alternatives. Our readers are telling us straight – for some new versions there should be no room at the inn."  [And its not really just about people singing different words, right?]

Among the "theologically-modified, politically-corrected" carols encountered by visitors to the website are Hark the Herald Angels Sing in which the line "Glory to the newborn King" has been replaced by "Glory to the Christ child, bring".

The well-known refrain of O Come All Ye Faithful – "O come let us adore Him" – has also been changed in one church to "O come in adoration", both changes apparently made for fear the original was sexist[ROLF!]

"[One reader] wrote in asking if the original line was considered too gender-specific," Mr Goddard said. "But as he rightly pointed out, Jesus wasn’t hermaphrodite, neither was he a girl."

Churchgoers at one carol service will not be allowed to sing the words "all in white" during Once in Royal David’s City in case they appear racist, while another cleric has removed the word "virgin" from God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen.

I think these C of E’s could have a great lessons and carols service with these in the Abbey of Malmesbury.

Here is a link to Ship of Fools.

In honor of this project, please turn up the volume when playing your traditional carols and sing along.

Stress the offensive words, like …. HIM, and KING and VIRGIN.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. Rachel says:

    Perhaps the number one most mangled line in any Christmas carol is “Pleased as man with man to dwell”. It’s such a beautiful turn of phrase, and only a moron would find either “man” offensive. Apparently we’ve plenty of those about. We have to fight for that use of “man” to mean “the whole human race”, or else people will retroactively apply today’s reduced meaning to old lyrics and conclude our forefathers were sexist.

    Father, your line about stressing the offensive words reminds me of the time I went on a first date with an Evangelical I didn’t know very well. (I was Protestant too back then.) The waiter brought our dinners, we bowed our heads, and he prayed over the food, ending with, “…and I specifically invoke the name of Jesus Christ, Amen!” I liked him immediately.

  2. Jason says:

    This has to be a joke, right?

  3. joanofarcfan says:

    I once received, unsolicited, “free” Christmas Cards from a religious organization called The St. Jude League. One card depicted the herald angels and the phrase “Peace on earth, good will to all.” I hated this inclusive language of the more well-known and beloved phrase “Peace on earth, good will to men” and sent them back this card with my feelings about the matter duly noted and demanded to be removed from their list. I was.

  4. joanofarcfan says:

    In the jazz musician’s world, the correct phrase describing a calamity within the performance of a tune is called a train wreck, not a car crash. Train wreck describes the devastation better, I think.

  5. Fr. Dismas, OP says:

    I was at a parish during Christmas break one year, and there were many out-of-town folks visiting. I can’t remember which Mass part it was, but half the congregation was saying it one way, and the other half was saying it according to the Sacramentary. Halfway through, it really just died, sadly and painfully, after everyone kept pausing and restarting. In the silence, the voice of one young woman cried out, “DO OVER!”

    I kind of felt like doing the same thing, actually.

  6. Andrew, UK and sometimes Canada says:

    Maybe a good chance to enlist the help of Christmas and Easter Catholics. Many, having played their Christmas CDs and loved the hymns, probably belt out the original words with gusto and in ignorance of the destruction they’ve missed during the rest of the year.

    Wait a minute…what in these hymns could possibly attract them to come to church more than twice a year!

  7. wsg says:

    I was once made to sing “Good Christian Friends, Rejoice!”. Ugh.

    Also, a couple weeks ago at Mass I stood next to a guy who replaced every “Him” or “He” in the Nicene Creed referring to God with “God”; every “the Father” with “God” (as though the Father were analogous to God, whereas the Son and Holy Spirit are not, I guess); every “Him” or “He” referring to the Holy Spirit with “She.” He was loud enough that I got so confused I forgot the words to a creed I’ve known since I was around 5(and I didn’t seem to be the only one). What a way to promote unity and inclusiveness, eh?

  8. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    “I’m dreaming of a racially ambivalent multi-colored Christmas”…

  9. JeanS says:

    To joanofarcfan: Perhaps the the locomotive engineers’ society will protest the implication of “train wreck” and another level of political ‘correctness’ will be upon us. God help us all.

  10. jarhead462 says:

    Liberalisim is a mental disorder.

    Semper Fi!

  11. JPG says:

    Long before these wahoos got their hands on these carols, I recall a nun by the name of Sr Jeanne Frolick ( I could not make that up) whose sole purpose in life was to destroy ,either on a theological basis or because of a lack of inclusiveness, any hymn or carol which did not pass her modernist muster. Thus years ago we were all treated to “Good Christian Friends Rejoice” of which twenty years ago I heartily sang the correct phrasing over the rest of the congregation and insist on doing this now. Yes I am a jerk. You will note hawever that in Anglican or Episcopal Circles as with Catholics that with Hark the Herald Angels Sing, the second verse is Christ by highest Heaven adored and in in any Anglican of O Come All Ye Faithful” recording the second verse is God of God mirroring the Latin Deo de Deo. Both verses have in common a reference to the womb as well as a wonderfully explicit statement of the doctrine of the Incarnation and the Divinity of Christ. I have wondered whether the common omission of both of these second verse in the USA aside from Episcopal or Catholic Circles reflects either an aversion to a mention of the female reproductive organs or a repugnance at the thought of a doctrine so wonderfully defined at the Council of Nicea? I have wondered of any Unitarian sympathies in the US. As to Sister Jeanne I may be blaming her for the above example but I recall too many Hymns and Carols butchered by this well intentioned,
    dare I say ,twit. I told you I am a basic jerk. This ethos exemplified by this person reflects the artistic taste of the time. Namely destroy any song or for that matter any sanctuary or altar for the sake of a given agenda. If you think about it this is the same mindset behind any “wreckovation” that was performed in the 70’s,80’s and 90’s. I wait for time to take its toll and I hope rid us of these innovators.
    Fairfield, CT

  12. And I thought all the hippies were dying off! Thank God even more for our Holy Father and his new Chief of Liturgy!!!

  13. Phil (NL) says:

    All sing along now folks, with special emphasis on the parts in bold:

    Adeste fideles, laete triumphantes;
    venite, venite in Bethlehem;
    natum videte regem angelorum.

    And you might throw in a ‘Puer natus in bethlehem’ as well while you’re at it. The louder the better!

  14. Phil (NL) says:

    Somehow I managed not to add the all important “venite adoremus, venite adoremus, venite adoremus Dominum” but I guess that will sort itself by the time one gets to that line.

  15. Dr. Eric says:

    The truly Politically Correct don’t sing CHRISTMAS CAROLS they sing WINTER SONGS.

  16. tjm says:

    How about that old favorite “Good Christiam FRIENDS Rejoice!”

  17. LRThunder says:

    I also had to deal with that in my parish’s music book, although not to the extent as described above.

    I don’t understand the need to tamper with songs like that.

  18. Maggie says:

    Ridiculous. I always try to sing the “original” lyrics, regardless of what’s printed.

  19. Lucy says:

    Now I’ve heard everything. The real question is, how do we get folks to wake up and start acting like Christians ? The loudest people are always seeming to be the minority – and their ideas are not always good. God help us !!

  20. Bob Glassmeyer says:

    Years ago, at Christmas, I encountered an alteration of “Hark the Herald Angels Sing,” wherein words in the third verse were changed from “born to raise the sons of earth” to “born to raise us from the earth.” Using “inclusive” language can not only trivialize hymns (not to mention the Scriptures), but can also change the meaning of these things altogether.

    I have some problems with “inclusive” language. First, it is not inclusive at all, and many times, not only are people not consulted before the Scriptures or hymns are bastardized, but they’re shown the door if they so much as ask a question. Second, the presumption is that people are too stupid to know the meanings of words. This really ignites my ire-the presumption of many leftist inclusive language facsists that they and they alone are enlightened and educated.

    These high and mighty “we are Church” types might do well to learn a bit of humility.

  21. Mitch says:

    Are these “all inclusive ” folks up to using the same bathrooms…No more Ladies Room, Men’s Room….And while we are at it maybe everyone’s hair length should be the same..And let;’s get rid of pants and skirts..We can all use knee length loose material wraps…Anyone else with more ideas….Let’s lump them all in the same universal proposal….On a serious note, it is quite sad they are doing this..

  22. Most Excellent Sledgehammer says:

    Frankly, Mitch, I’m up for anything that means I don’t have to wear pants.

  23. HQD says:

    I think it’s incontrovertible evidence that the historical Christ child was a Him and not a “her” or an “it”. Oh my goodness, what’s this world come to? Where we can’t worship He who is without sin unless we acknowledge AIDS victims and druggies…my goodness, let’s just Adore Him! It’s about Him…and His humble birth.

  24. Michael J says:

    This nonsense is not limited to Christmas Carols either. My neice, in the second grade, had to sing “10 Little Native American Children” instead of “10 Little Indians”.

    Unfortunately, in a really stupid fit of contrariness, I taught her to sing “10 Little Naked Heathen Savages”. I still catch grief over that and it was over 10 years ago,

  25. Vincent says:

    The only thing worse than this is when we must listen to the Christmas story get warped into a social justice lesson. Unfortunately, this happens just as often if not more often.

    And even more than the gender neutral lyrics I cannot stand the rendering of “et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis” in so many hymns and carols. It so obviously does NOT mean “peace and good will to men on earth” but rather “peace on earth to men of good will.” I haven’t taken any more than one semester of Latin and I can figure out the “bonae voluntatis” is clearly a genitive plural, not an accusative singular. Humpf.

  26. Dominic H says:

    This is SO stupid. (And this week a town near me – in a county that is supposedly not one of the more “politically correct” parts of England, to say the least – banned a group of 10-year old kids from singing carols at the town festival on the grounds that, in the words of the festival organiser, “their theme did not dovetail with that of the festival”: this being code for the songs were explictly Christian.).

    Still, loath as I am to admit it (and I have just got back from my first low mass at the Birmingham Oratory, NO, but ad orientem, of course – do understand that is a good 250 miles away from where I live, but I was in Birmingham, and thought Newman’s grand place must be visited), one will, more often than not, get better hymns (and, I am even more loath to admit, more enthuisastially sung hymns) at an average CofE parish (high or low) than an in average Catholic one, in England.

    (No, of course I can’t back this up statistically, nor is my research overly extensive, and it has been very many years since I went to a CofE service…but as this observation seems to be something of a commonplace, almost, and hymn singing at most Catholic parishes I have attended has been…patchy….but I think I am prepared to stand by this.)

  27. Daniel Muller says:

    I generally do not bother with hymnals, especially when there are not any, just limp seasonalworshipaids. I know the words. Why should I bother to learn whatever is at the top of the free-for-all heap this year? It will not be the same next year.

    Just remember that there are hymnals that still include relatively unedited English hymns, such as The Adoremus Hymnal and The [Brompton Oratory] Catholic Hymn Book. Some of the St. Michael’s Hymnal texts are heavily edited late 20th-century versions, but a strong effort has been made by the editor to prevent or remove any changes motivated by political correctness, so I think most people will feel comfortable with the words in there as well.

  28. We see the acceleration of the secular invasion. Christianity is being removed from dictionaries too. Just sing the right words louder, and focus on growing in virtue, which will be an obvious witness to all.

  29. Brian says:

    While it is fun to joke about singing the correct words loudly with emphasis, what we need to be doing, of course, is singing the correct words prayerfully with recollection, and avoiding progressivists gatherings like the vacuuous plague that they are.

  30. Padre Steve says:

    To laugh or cry…? That is the question!

  31. I’d be happy to put my windows down and my system up for Jesus… Hahahaha.

  32. ckdexterhaven says:

    Would it kill my parish’s choir director to let us sing Advent/Christmas songs each year at (ahem) Advent/Christmas. Every year at the children’s Mass, he has the kid’s choir sing some inane songs from the 70’s that no one’s ever heard of, instead of REAL Christmas songs. I consider myself lucky if we get to hear Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Little Town of Bethlehem even once. What’s their problem? North Raleigh, NC (smaller parish)

  33. Giovanni says:

    When St. Thomas More asked Richard Rich about an act of Parlament declaring that God didn’t exist, do you think he was thinking of this day and age?

    Was it a prophecy?

  34. Gregory DiPippo says:

    “How many kinds of stupidity…?”

    Optime Z.,
    Multiply this item by the skate ramp in church, and what you get is a number of kinds of stupidity that no mathematical language yet invented can describe.

    On a more positive note, I went by St. Peter’s while the Mass for the university students of Rome was going on. Even though the Pope only comes down to the Basilica at the end, it was ABSOLUTELY JAMMED.

  35. Emily says:

    I have NEVER sung the “PC versions” of Christmas carols. When I was in College we had a big Christmas Festival every year, where all the choral groups sang. I was in one of them. One of the carols we did was “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing” with PC corrections! One of the verses went: “Mild He lays His glory by/ Born that WE no more may die/ Born to raise EACH CHILD of Earth/ born to give US second birth.”

    Never mind what this did to the meter–it was AWFUL!
    And “God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen” is one of my favorite Christmas carols. It’s such a shame we don’t sing it anymore. I do, however, sing it often in my car.

  36. o.h. says:

    Why don’t these well-meaning gender-sensitive meddlers with traditional lyrics see how demeaning this is to us women? It’s as if one were to be in a literature class, and find the professor had altered Paradise Lost to “Of humankind’s first disobedience…” and had Donne say “No person is an island,” and upon inquiry explain that he didn’t think women could handle the text as it was originally written without taking offense.

    Really, are we ladies so fragile that the actual words that a real writer composed must not be seen, lest we be miffed? How is that not condescending?

    Let men keep praying the Magnificat, saying “behold the handmaid of the Lord,” and let us women keep praying “for us men and for our salvation,” and trust that we are all adults here and will not fall faint in gender confusion.

  37. Albert says:

    Even in God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen I often hear “to save us all from death and pain” or some variation instead of “to save us all from Satan’s power”. It went out when the devil stopped existing.

  38. Franzjosf says:

    The irony for me is that the same people who censor defenseless dead poets say that they’re against censorship. I wouldn’t bother now, but when I was younger and after a service which included some horrible changing of “God of our Fathers,” I told the Dean of the Episcopal Cathedral in Denver that only cowards do that sort of thing. His response, “I think you’re intolerant.” LOL. If he were tolerant he would allow a poet his own voice.

  39. Steve says:

    I often wonder in those “gender-neutral references to Jesus” places what they celebrate on Last Sunday of the year. Christ the monarch? Christ the Chief Executive?

  40. Jayna says:

    As progressive as my parish is, I’ve never been subjected to PC versions of Christmas carols. I am subjected to the entire congregation (priests included) dropping the word “men” from the Creed, but gosh darnit, they get the carols right!

  41. marnie says:

    My husband predicts that in a few year’s time we will witness gay Nativity scenes. He has been right about so many debacles we are currently witnessing. Lord help us!

  42. jean says:

    I was hit with a new one the other day. Apparently we should not sing the first verse of “O come O come Emmanuel” because “ransome captive Isreal” could be offensive to Jewish people. Because we might be impying that Jesus is the Messiah? Shame on us. . .

  43. This madness isn’t restricted to Christmas Carols and Hymns. What about “Faith of Our Fathers” which has, not only been gender neutralized, but changed from its original intent, to honor the Catholic Martyrs of England under the Anglican reformers. Written by the illustrious Fr. Faber of the Oratory, it has been stripped of its thoroughly Catholic identity in modern hymnals. No longer do we find the verse: “Faith of our father’s, Mary’s prayers, shall win (bring) our nation, back (unto) to Thee; And through the truth that comes from God, England (all men) will then be truly free.” Changes in parenthesis were made decades ago for places outside England.

  44. michigancatholic says:

    Fr. Dismas,
    We had the same thing in a parish near here one holy day. Because the music changes all the time (the liturgical top 10?), and because people can no longer discriminate pop jingles from liturgical music, and because the piano player is absent on Marian holy days for some reason, we simply stalled. It was bizarre. We couldn’t manage to sing the Holy, HOly at. all. NOt one phrase. Finally the whole congregation was looking around and the priest sang it for us while we stood there like dummies. He had to lead us through the whole rest of the mass like that.

  45. michigancatholic says:

    The piano player at one of the local parishes is shoe-horning Christmas carols into the parts of the Mass. For instance, he sings Holy, Holy now to the tune of O Come Oh Come Immanuel. It’s all messed up. Even the Agnus Dei has the wrong words and is crammed into that tune. THAT is a festive train wreck!

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