Some people on twitter had to put up with my frustration at having Mass this morning ruined by a bowdlerised version of "I'll sing a Hymn to Mary". The Laudate Hymnal, instead of having "When wicked men blaspheme Thee, I'll love and bless Thy Name" has "Oh may I imitate thee and magnify God's name" as part of its Year Zero approach to what it would probably refer to as a) gender issues in Catholic hymnology and b) Catholic exclusivity issues in Catholic hymnbookology.
Most of the bowdlerisation of the hymn book is aimed at reducing sexist references to men, but the example quoted above is so gratingly awful that you have to imagine that somebody was taking the mickey. Is there a feminist in the land so keen on equality that she sees "wicked men" as exclusive of and discriminatory against, presumably, "wicked women"? No, absolutely not! But there are a lot of Nuchurchians who dislike the idea of the veneration of the name of the BVM: they probably hate the idea of the "Holy Name of Jesus" as well, but as it doesn't seem to be a feast, or a line in a well-loved hymn any more, they have probably won that particular skirmish.
So, clever-clever them, they have abolished the nasty words and replaced them with a prayer referring back to the Magnificat: absolutely fine, if change were necessary, but if it isn't (and it's not!) why not write your own hymn about the Magnificat, which is about the Lord, and leave the rest of us with our hymn to Our Lady? (The answer is easy: Estelle White. I rest my case.)
I'm afraid that my solution - sing the old words loudly and make uncharitable comments in between verses - is not really commendable, however satisfying it might have been for me, and isn't even a tactical success, really. But I am left wondering:
- who compiled the Laudate Hymnal, and why?
- who gave permission for it to sell itself as Catholic?
- why is at pushed at priests by diocesan authorities?
The bowdlerisation is, believe it or not, not the major issue. the real problem with the hymnbook is that it is full of protestant hymns: in PTP's words "actual protestant hymns in the hymnal. (not hymns written by protestants but those expressing prostestant theology)". Hymns that misrepresent the doctrine of the Atonement, for example, denying that anybody who is a Christian might go to Hell.
There are times when Lenin's "Kto? Ktovo?" (Who? Whom? - who is in the driving seat and to whom are they the dominant force?) seems like a mission statement for the apparatchiks. If it isn't, why do so many of them behave as if it is?