Gender-Blind Carolling

This is a sort of placeholder for a future entry, but it’s late, and I’m tired (and a little buzzed), and I don’t have the right words for what I want to say….

The gist is this: We went to a lovely lessons and carols service at St. Andrews tonight, and it was my first experience with carols being tweaked to include gender-blind language. An example is from the song, “Hark the Herald Angels Sing.” The old, familiar, version of the hymn includes the line, “Born to raise the sons of earth,” and the new version (per the 1982 Episcopal Hymal) has this amended to read, “Born to raise us from the earth.” While this jarred me while I was singing, after we left I was able to digest it, and find that I like the change.

When I got home, still giddy from singing, and dessert, and driving around looking at Christmas lights, I surfed the net, looking for commentary on the lyric changes, and was disappointed to find so much negativity, in much the same way that I’m disappointed when someone I like comes out against feminism, because they have some odd notion that feminism means hating men (it doesn’t).

And while I have valid points, I don’t have an essay about what I’m feeling just now, nor am I entirely certain I want to post them, but I will, once I’ve slept and figured out my real point.

So, yeah, this is a placeholder.

CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 Gender-Blind Carolling by Melissa Bartell is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.

One thought on “Gender-Blind Carolling

  1. One reason the changes like that annoy me — though I don’t usually go around posting negative stuff on the net — is that they pile on top of each other until the songs are bland and meaningless. In the 80s, it was in vogue to take out the man/men references. (Which were a reasonable removal.) Now that they’re gone, I’m beginning to hear carols sung with references to ‘virgin’ and ‘womb’ and ‘birth’ taken out because, you know, people can’t handle refences to sex and/or icky, girly parts. I’m a little worried what’s next to go. It sometimes seems to me that it would be better just to write new songs and leave the older ones as a record of their time rather than to attempt (over and over and over again) to cast songs written to the standards of another time into the guidelines for what’s correct today.

Comments are closed.