December 16 – Carols at Christmas

Carols at Christmas
Words seemingly carved in stone
New lyrics? Now wait!

I am willing to be old as I really don’t have a choice.

I am willing to be old fashioned in many things by choice.

In too many things if you ask my wife.

Last couple of weeks, Church has performed songs for the Christmas season.

Songs which I would have called traditional Christmas Carols.

But the tradition ended with the 2nd and 3rd verses of these traditional songs.

New, modern, evangelical lyrics replaced the old words.

The gears in my brain went out of sync.

I was a little bit shocked and a lot bit dismayed.

This wasn’t wrong.

But this wasn’t right either.

I thought some things were beyond the wrecking ball of time.

I never sang a Christmas Carol that I thought that the words or the meaning could be improved.

Well there was that year I was teaching the 4th Grade Boys Sunday School class and I told the boys that when we sang ‘Angels We Have Heard on High’ for the Church Christmas Program, instead of GLOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOOOOOOO-OOOOOOOO -OOOOOOOOOOOORIA, we could get away with OOOOOOOOOOO-OOOOOOO-OOOOOOOOO-OOOOOOO-REOS (and we did too) but I digress.

I find it hard to imagine anyone sitting back, looking at a piece of sheet music to O Come All Ye Faithful, looking at the new lyrics they just added and saying, ‘There, that’s better!’.

According to the Macmillan Dictionary Blog, Carol is a very old word, dating back at least to 1300. It originally meant a circle dance, and came from Old French carole, and possibly ultimately from Greek and Latin, but its etymology is obscure.

The first OED citation for the current meaning – “A song or hymn of joy sung at Christmas in celebration of the Nativity. Rarely applied to hymns on certain other festal occasions” – comes from 1502:

Speaking of Oh Come All Ye Faithful, yes, I know it was Adeste fideles læti triumphantes in the Latin and it was changed into english somewhere along the line.

And I know Tempora mutantur, nos et mutamur in illis (The times change and we change with the times.)

If you ask me, some things shouldn’t be, don’t need to be changed.

But then, no one asked me.

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