The events I am describing happened over twenty years ago. I’m not saying what I did over twenty years ago was right or wrong. We report, you decide.
One Christmas Eve a long time ago I found myself in a church (that shall remain nameless) where I should not have been. I say that because much of the leadership in that denomination most likely did not believe Jesus was the Son of God and born of a virgin. If you don’t believe Jesus was the Son of God and was born of a Virgin, why would you have a Christmas Eve service? It would be much better to go to a bar, or maybe just sacrifice a virgin at the Winter Solstice, like our ancestors did before Jesus Christ came to set us free from our sins.
That night, poor young, naive me found myself in this church. What could they do to a Christmas Eve service, I thought? If things got bad, I could just tune out the homily.
Since I had memorized all the verses of most of the Christmas carols, I wasn’t looking closely at the hymnal. I was surprised to find myself singing “Good Christian men, rejoice” when everyone else was singing “Good Christian folk, rejoice.” I can sing loudly, so a few people looked at me funny. Then I realized what had happened.
When you don’t believe the basic doctrines of Christianity, you tend not to resist the winds of the culture. Ancient Christians faced lions rather than bow to the Emperor: modern religious pseudo-Christians cave in under much less pressure. So when some feminists complained about the “sexist” nature of this hymnal, this denomination rewrote their hymnals, including the Christmas carols, into “gender-neutral” language.
I know the Christmas season is about “peace on earth, good will toward men” (or should that be “good will toward persons of all genders”?), but I was mad. By the time they got to singing “Joy to the World, the savior reigns, let ‘all’ their songs employ”, I was certain to sing the hymn the way Isaac Watts wrote it, with “men” instead of “all”, and very loudly too. So loudly, in fact, that a number of others started singing the hymns the right way.
They also tampered with the lines in “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” about “pleased as man, with men to dwell,”, and “born to raise the sons of earth.” Some church bureacrat decided (very ironically) that he/she knew better than Charles Wesley, and changed these lines to “pleased with us in flesh to dwell”, and “born to raise us from the earth.”
I couldn’t remember if they butchered “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen,” or just gave up on it as hopeless.