Cardinal Vincent Nichols rejects trend to rewrite Christmas carols
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An alternative version of God Rest Ye Merry, Gentlemen has sparked fresh debate over Christmas traditions within the Church. In a Monday night carol service, the All Saints with Holy Trinity church choir in Loughborough performed an updated version of the classic Christmas hymn. The new lyrics were more inclusive, honouring women and queer people within the carol, although the update has not been welcomed by some senior religious figures.
In an apparent ode to the LGBTQ+ community, the alternate version of the Christmas carol sang: “God rest you queer and questioning, your anxious hearts be still.
“Believe that you are deeply known, and part of God’s good will.
“For all to live as one in peace, the global dream fulfilled.”
A member of the parish and ordained member of the Church of England tweeted a picture of the lyrics, captioned: “Flipping love my church.”
However, Cardinal Vincent Nichols, the Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, rejected the rewrite of the traditional Christmas carol.
The Archbishop told Times Radio: “I think what Christmas does, and many other moments, it tells us the importance of ritual. Ritual helps us to step outside of our own little bubble and connect with something we have received, inherited and that we hope to pass on.
“Those values are the continuation of musical repertoire, of the ability to sing together, of looking at the rituals that have been fashioned over centuries
“Those are probably for me more important than particular sensitivities which come and go.”
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The new lyrics are from an alternate version of the hymn, written by Jeffrey Wilsor and previously used by the Hollywood United Methodist Church, which is described as inclusive and affirming.
Another extract from the lyrics which honours women read: “God rest you also, women, who by men have been erased.
“Through history ignored and scored, defiled and displaced.
“Remember that your stories too, are held within God’s grace.”
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Composer and organist Philip Stopford hit out at the lyrics posted on Twitter. He suggested the rewrite encourages the idea that “church is just for gays” and claimed “straight folk” could soon be “erased” from traditional carols if alternative versions gain popularity.
He added: “God rest ye congregation who have to suffer this.”
All Saints with Holy Trinity did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The Loughborough church’s website reads: “We are striving to be an inclusive, eco conscious and intercultural worshipping community (IWC) engaged with issues of social, racial and climate justice.
“We don’t think we have all the answers but for those who wish to journey with us in Christian belief and action you will find a welcome here.”
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