Sunday, 5 September 2010

Bowdler again

Another hymn Bowdlerised...

You know:
Sojourners in this vale of tears
We sinners make our prayers through thee,
Remind thy Son that he has paid
The price of our iniquity.

Well not any more. Now we have:
Sojourners in this vale of tears
We sinners make our prayers through thee,
Remind us all that we are saved
In spite of our iniquity.

What is that about? It's not a rejection of Our Lady's intercession, as each verse still concludes 'pray for me.'

I can only assume that it is some idiot not happy with the idea of Our Lord having to be reminded.

And I say idiot, because if that is the objection, the person concerned is both a theological and a scriptural dunce.

Of course Our Lord doesn't need reminding because He is forgetful. But to make that objection is to fail to realise that we almost always have to speak of God using human metaphors. Just this morning in today's Mass we had 'Is your anger for ever.' One can't read the Old Testament intelligently unless one grasps this basic fact...

And as ever, there was no acknowledgement of the Bowdlerising in the hymn book, which strikes me as both dishonest, and damaging of the reputation of the poor writers whose work they adulterate.


Ttony said...

Do you have the "Laudate" hymn book too?

We had "1-2-3-4-5-6-7 God is love, his the Care" today with bizarre bowdlerisations - this is verse two:

"None can see God above/humankind we can love/thus may we Godward move/finding God in others/sisters all, and brothers"

Luckily, the children weren't at Mass with us so I was able to exclaim loudly during the first chorus (there was a min-bowdlerisation at the end of verse one) "Absolute rubbish! I'm singing the proper words." And I did.

Obviously this bowdlerisation was to comfort the 51% of "humankind" who are excluded from "mankind". Yours is more insidious, and I think your speculation about the meaning is over-charitable.

The real words explain what the Sacrifice of Calvary has achieved: that Christ has paid for our sins in His Blood. The new words say that however bad we are, we are saved, which is extremely Calvinistic, unless they are saying that we are saved by making our prayers through Mary which is Mariolatry gone mad!

The person concerned is not just a theological and scriptural dunce, by the way: s/he also has cloth ears, and the cloth is thick denim, not fine linen.

Ben Trovato said...


I don't know what the hymn book was - we weren't at our own parish. I think it was Hymns Old and New or some such...

You could be right in your reading of the re-write - I'm never sure whether it's conspiracy or idiocy on these occasions...

Ttony said...

It's just struck me that it could be even worse: that the bowdleriser has rejected the word "Son".

Ben Trovato said...


Not so sure about that one: verse one ended (as it should)

'Mother of Christ, Star of the Sea...' etc