Friday, 30 December 2011
De-sexing the Carols
One of the things I'd forgotten being in France for the past three months (it seems so much longer) is the wicked evil nonsense of changing the words to hymns. I know all that stuff about not using 'man' and all that, and I suppose that if you were writing a hymn nowadays then it would be anachronistic to say the least to keep shoving man in if you could write something in a different way. By this of course I mean something that would not draw your attention to the lyrics in the first place. The only reason I can think of for writing the new stuff is so that people do not stop in the middle of a hymn and say 'gosh Marjory, you couldn't say that today!'. At that moment, the mind has stopped being elevated and is embroiled in a mundane battle of language.
So far so obvious (though don't get me started, no really don't, I become incandescent with rage, over trying to STOP people using the Name of the Lord - Y**H - willy nilly. If for no other reason than Our Lord when He went to the Synagogue would not have used it, so where do we get off thinking that we can be more chummy with the Almighty than Our Saviour Himself. I told you - don't get me started).
But oh, the crossness, the annoyedness, the sadly furiousness of it all.
While shepherds watched: "goodwill henceforth from heaven to men (now "all")".
O Little Town: "and praises sing to God the King, and peace to men (now "upon") the earth".
On Christmas night all Christians sing: "Then why should men (now "all") on earth be so sad".
We three kings: "prayer and praising all men (now "gladly") raising".
Hark the herald-angels: "pleased as man with man (now "us") to dwell".
...and others. I just got too depressed looking them up.
I know that it goes on. I know that it is defended by people saying that such use of man and men is now old-fashioned and offensive, but really. These are carols which we have sung for generations. It's like leaving great aunt Mabel, always the soul of propriety and sober dignity, with the neighbour for the day, only to find when you get back that they have tarted her up in cheap lipstick and put her in a low cut dress.
"There's no harm done", they cry, "she likes it, its much better than her looking washed out in that dour black cardigan."
Rubbish, rubbish, rubbish. How do they get off changing our carols? And its fine saying that you don't have to buy the flaming book, but you just try to find one where the hymns have not been destroyed. And once they've been bought, they're so terribly expensive that you can't just change them.
It doesn't stop it including a song that refers to God the Holy Spirit, as a bleeding female bird!
Anyway... got that off my chest... feeling much better.