Saturday 13 May 2006

Unfortunate Lyrics

Hymns can be tricky little things… A priest I knew a few years ago recounted the story (which from any other source I would have considered apocryphal) of a funeral he celebrated at a crematorium chapel. The family were not regular Mass-attenders and wanted a "nice" final hymn. They picked "Colours of day" without considering the first words of the chorus, which are: "So light up the fire, and let the flame burn…"
A tad too close for comfort. I risk fits of laughter whenever I have to sing that one.

Another hymn which can reduce me to a quivering wreck is one to Our Lady. In "Daily, daily, sing to Mary" the second verse runs:

"She is mighty to deliver;
call her, trust her lovingly.
When the tempest rages round thee,
she will calm the troubled sea.
Gifts of heaven she has given,
noble lady, to our race:
she, the queen, who decks her subjects,
with the light of God’s own grace."

I love the hymn - but there is something terrible in me which forms the mental picture of Mary delivering a sharp right hook and completely flooring someone…

Inclusive Language Rant

One of my pet hates is inclusive language. It's bad enough in everyday situations, but it is particularly annoying when it happens in hymns and Mass readings. It is irritating. I also find it somewhat insulting: I resent the implication that I lack the intelligence to realise that words like "Man" actually refer to me too. I am constantly insulted by the use of "brothers and sisters" - or the even more patronising "sisters and brothers" - when the single, elegant word "brethren" would be sufficient.

It is often down right clumsy, changing familiar words and phrases, and sometimes even the meaning. I remember one occasion when a priest (not my current Parish Priest, I hasten to add) tied himself up in knots trying to be terribly inclusive while reading at Mass: he was so anxious not to leave anyone out that he proclaimed Jesus as "our brother and sister"??

Inclusive language is at its most annoying when the PC brigade get their paws on traditional hymns. It's bad enough having to put up with dodgy lyrics from wishy-washy offerings such as "If I were a butterfly" and "Bind us together" but I feel that there ought to be a law against changing the good stuff.

The madness behind inclusive language is amply demonstrated by one hymn to Our Lady. In "I'll sing a hymn to Mary," at the end of each verse is the refrain "When wicked men blaspheme thee, I'll love and bless thy name." By changing the words to "When wicked ones blaspheme thee" all the PC brigade have succeeded in doing is indicate that women have as much of a right to blaspheme against Our Lady as men. Well, that really makes me feel all warm and cuddly and included...

I have to confess that I deliberately try and sabotage this wherever I spot it. I have a fairly strong singing voice (and the figure to match - move over Brunhilde) and I take great delight in singing the correct versions - aided and abetted by my even more traditional Parish Priest. But in the meantime, I am sorely tempted to grafitti all the parish hymn books...

Welcome to my Blog

I’ve never done this before, but I have been assured that it is as easy as falling down the sacristy steps (a feat which I accomplished last summer) and much easier than performing somersaults in a car while on the motorway (a feat which I accomplished with real panache just before Christmas)… I guess it’s been a busy year!

After reading several excellent blogs, I decided that the chance to rant about my particular pet hates (I have many) was just too good to miss, and so here I am. I have no idea whether anyone else will find it interesting, but at least my friends will find that they receive fewer emails. I leave it to them to decide whether this is the cloud or the silver lining...
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