Expert Answer Forum
Inclusive language QUESTION from Mary November 28, 2000 I have just come across a very difficult situation regarding inclusive language. As choir director, in choosing music for Christmas, I picked Hark the Herald Angels Sing and changed the words (which were inclusive) to the traditional words. An important member of the choir has threatened to leave the choir if I don't change the words back to their all-inclusive form (found, unfortunately, in the church hymnal).
I listened to her rather feminist argument and told her I would not change the words, but would research the church's stand on this and try to come back to her with an argument. Help! I have no idea where to begin to find a good argument, except to say that the Pope doesn't like inclusive language. Though this should be enough, I would love to have some more ammo. Anything you can give would be terrific!
ANSWER by Mr. John Miskell on December 4, 2000 Dear Mary,
Much more latitude is given to musical arrangements than with the prayers of the Mass. If the hymnal you're using is approved for use by your bishop then I wouldn't be too concerned about it. I'd just bite my lip and sing the words (or just move my lips).
I'm told that in the very near future, hymnals will require the approval of both the various national bishop's conferences and the Vatican. I think this is great news because it will put a stop to the kind of thing you just described (I hope). My pet peeve is when they play Martin Luther's fight song, A Mighty Fortress Is Our God. This just drives me up the wall.
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