Quit Changing the Words!

Some days I just want to snarl at someone. Earlier that week, a well-meaning member of the choir asked to change the words of an upcoming anthem because the composer “didn’t quote the text correctly.” That is, if you use only her preferred translation. If you use the King James/Authorized translation, which the composer did, then the lyrics are an exact quote. But she is very sincere, and well-meaning, and no one else was strange enough to look at different translations, and so we all wrote in the “correct” words.

Then Sunday was re-named in the weekly newsletter to reflect the “mothering nature of parental love.” That someone on the staff had just gotten back from a sabbatical in England and was talking up “Mothering Sunday” might have had something to do with it.

And then two of the hymns had “new and improved” words that interrupted the flow of the lyrics and chopped the tune into bits. Half the worshippers know one of those tunes by heart, with older words, and so we had dueling lyrics.


Things like that make me want to snarl “Just go back to koine Greek or Hebrew and be done with it.” No one in the choir and very few people in the congregation understand either of those languages, and no one would know how to pronounce them, and no one would dare change whatever words appeared on the page.


6 thoughts on “Quit Changing the Words!

  1. “she is very sincere, and well-meaning”

    In many ways, this is one of the greatest dangers the Church faces. Well-meaning people who introduce little compromises to “improve” something that doesn’t need improving. The Church is supposed to be salt and light to the world, not conform itself to the current culture. While some of these changes might seem to be no big deal, there are often unintended consequences.

  2. Wouldn’t an official prayer-book avoid this by discouraging changing things. These are our words and we’ll keep them.

  3. I think it was in one of Jodi Taylor’s books that a character commented, “They took the Book of Common Prayer and turned it into something with all the appeal of a laundry list, and then they wondered why the Church was bleeding congregants.” Or words to that effect.

  4. genesis 3 now the serpent was more subtil than any beast ……..kjv also pentacost, in thier own tongue change is more slippery than water on ice, inso many ways

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