Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Mounties and a King. Christmas music mis-heard. (And a Carol which MUST be re-written!)

We wish you a merry Christmas....

...  has a line which reads

"Good tidings we bring, to you and your kin".

As a lad I was sure that it ought to read

"Good tidings we bring, to you and your King".

So I sang it that way.   After all "bring" and "kin"  do not rhyme,  (and I grew up in a  Monarchy).

U.K. King George VI.  He died when I was
eight years old..


My twin sister and I attended the same schools from first through sixth grades. Our parents wisely insisted that we should never have the same classroom teachers (sibling rivalry and all that stuff).

In what Americans would call 5th grade we each had classroom teachers who were also organists/choir leaders at local Methodist Churches;  hers at Eastville Park Methodist Church, mine at Bethel Methodist Church, St. George  (both in east Bristol, U.K.).

And we sang!  Back in those days we sang a lot in school.

My teacher let it be known (in subtle ways) that his music programme was far superior to the one led my by sister's teacher.  

Thus I was set up to be scornful of the music which I heard from my sister's classroom.

My scorn was reinforced when I heard them singing "Deck the Halls with Boughs of Holly". I was certain that they were singing 

"Deck the Halls with  Boughs of Holly
Fa la la la  etc
All ye Mounties praise the Lord".

"How stupid" I thought.  Why is my sister's teacher so dumb.

It was much much later that  I realised that the song  said "All ye mountains praise the Lord"


The sappy and sentimental hymn "Away in a Manger" used to be attributed to Martin Luther, which is most likely why we sang it with deep piety and misty eyes.

We now know that Luther did not write, or sing, or know the hymn.

But we continue to sing it.

More's the pity, especially because of the part which goes

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes"


"No crying he makes?" Really?

This is anthropological nonsense Every human baby cries!

This is theological nonsense. If the Christian claim that Jesus is the truly human incarnation of God is valid then the :"Little Lord Jesus"  cried just like every other human baby.

I have asked various congregations to sing it thus:

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
and little Lord Jesus loud crying he makes"

Those dear congregations have nodded and smiled in agreement.

And then they have sung

" The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes,
but little Lord Jesus no crying he makes"

So much for the power of the pulpit!


1 comment:

  1. Many a prophet was not heard or heeded in his own time. A blessed Christmas to you!