“Christmas isn’t a season. It’s a feeling” Edna Ferber
I recently was contacted by a lovely colleague, Pete*, about an ongoing discussion during his community chorus’s rehearsals. He is not sure what to do and wants some data collected from other Choral Professionals to share with his group. I said I would write about it here in the Choral Ethics Blog and get your experiences and suggestions. I will share your information with him as soon as I receive it.
Many of you have had to deal with a similar situation to Pete’s, changing the texts of standard Christmas Carols and Hymns to be more inclusive. I remember the first time I was asked to change a text in the late 1980s—“Good Christian Men Rejoice”–and we changed it to “Good Christian Folk Rejoice.” My Son-the-Organist tells me THAT carol has now been changed to “Good Christian Friends Rejoice” so even with that early effort to be more inclusive, it was changed yet again.
In a Church setting, many mainstream denominations are changing standard texts of hymns and other materials to be more welcoming and inclusive OF ALL. It is not just a “Christmas thing” but an effort to show during all times of the year, the Church welcomes all. Choral organizations of all types, from academic to community, are making it a policy to change texts, especially if texts are in English, to be more welcoming.
We are interested in your experiences and how your groups have handled it. Do you have any policy to change texts? Do you only change holiday music or is ALL texts in English? Are there some dissenters in your organizations who REFUSE to change?
I am including Pete’s question below, but I also have one of my own. Is your motivation to change standard Christmas Carols and Hymns texts to be more inclusive because you, yourself, feel it appropriate or because you believe changing them to be more inclusive is now expected?
Please respond in the comments. Or if you don’t feel comfortable with that, please feel free to contact me via email:
Thank you ChoralNetters!
Pete’s question is:
How many of you are changing the standard text of Christmas Hymns to be gender-neutral or inclusive?
i.e. “man” = “all” or “us.”
Yes – we are changing a few standard hymns
Yes – we are changing many standard hymns
No – we are not changing any hymns.