Mangled hymns (letter)

Mangled hymns (letter)

Michael Apthorp

Congratulations to Bruce Dawe on his brilliant satire on the mangling of hymns ("The Salami Treatment", December AD2000).

During recent travels I attended a Mass where the church notices included a strange new version of the hymn "Seek, O seek the Lord", by that great Australian poet James McAuley. In verse three McAuley's original words are:

"Strengthen in our hearts the love we owe to one another.
"How can we love God above and not our brother?"

But for "our brother" our politically correct reviser had substituted "each other". While McAuley would have been outraged by the effete rhyme "another"/"each other", that implacable foe of poetic modernism would have been rendered utterly speechless by the effrontery of an 'improver' who sought to remove "brother" as though it were a dirty word.

Like Bruce Dawe, I felt moved to sing a counter prayer:

"Strengthen in our hearts the urge to quit linguistic quibbling.
"How can we love God above and not our sibling?"

What ever happened to the Brotherhood of Man? Somehow the Siblinghood of Humankind does not have the same ring to it.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated incident. There are ample signs around us in today's Church that a tin ear obstinately deaf to the nuances of language, a gross ignorance or disregard of historical background, and a grim and doctrinaire brand of feminism are being allowed to hold sway, sometimes even producing bizarre distortions of the Scriptures themselves.

How else, for example, are we to account for clumsy and unauthorised attempts to remove masculine references to God from Old Testament Psalms read at Mass in some of the most august churches of the Brisbane Archdiocese?

Chapel Hill, Queensland

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