25 April 2020

Distractions in times of Pestilence: Ole Blue Eyes in 1929

A diverting little nescioquid on the Beeb ... they have received complaints about it ... and so they should ... it all adds to the gaiety of nations ...

Thursday April 9, on its P** Emm programme, the Home Service played a ditty, ex ipsissimo ore Frank Sinatra, Without a Song, with the line ... my dear, so very 1920s ...

"A darkie's born, he ain't no good no how without a song".

[In 1956, the Dwarfs in The Last Battle were still addressing the Calormenes as "Darkies". But the Calormene officer addressed the Dwarfs as "Children of Mud". I think, in Brit law, that is hatespeech.]

I think Sinatra's line fell some way short of a nuanced or in any way adequate Christian Anthropology, not to mention the grammar of Standard Received English. One might have to pass a similar judgement upon most of the lyrics of much popular music. But, surely some dignity should cling to the original authentic texts of historic lyrics, however sludge-like, whatever their degree of banality, however mafioso the crooner?

A fortiori, I am still outraged by the habit in the Arianising swamps of America's Proddiland of "correcting" S John Henry Newman's Praise to the Holiest in Height. Apparently, his phrase "A Higher Gift than Grace", describing thus the Second Person of the Glorious and Undivided Trinity in His Incarnate State, is offensive to the fastidious proddy theological ear, or to some part of it.

Yeah, you're right, who gives a t*ss about ... er ....


Scribe said...

Dear Father, I'm sure we all deplore this interfering with old and much loved hymns, and it had not occurred to me that anyone could have found fault with Newman's impeccable theology in that much-cherished hymn. I have noticed that in Protestant versions of another well-known hymn the line 'Sweet Sacrament, I Thee adore' is changed to 'Jesu my Lord I Thee adore', the same thing in the end, I suppose... What really angers me is the spineless and creepy changes made to John Wyse's beautiful hymn, 'I'll sing a hymn to Mary', where the robust and manly lines 'When wicked men blaspheme Thee, I'll love and bless Thy name' are replaced by some wretched compromise designed to soothe tender consciences. Belting out Wyse's rousing hymn is one of the robust pleasures of being a Roman Catholic, together with Wiseman's 'Full in the panting heart of Rome,' which is not often heard these days. Do other readers know of similar examples of literary butchery?

Mick Jagger Gathers No Mosque said...

Dear Father. Well, ol blue eyes was singing the lyrics of another.

But, Bob Dylan, the
Nobel Prize winner, he wrote hs own inspired lyrics such as these classic words

Million Dollar Bash

Bob Dylan

Well, that big dump blond
With her wheel in the gorge
Turtle, that friend of theirs
With his checks all forged
And his cheeks in a chunk
With his cheese in the cash
They're all gonna be there
At that million dollar bash

Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash

Everybody from right now
Go over there and back
The louder they come
The bigger they crack
Come now, sweet cream
Don't forget to flash
We're all gonna meet
At that million dollar bash

Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash

Well, I took my counselor
Out to the barn
Silly Nelly was there
She told me a yarn
Then along came Jones
Emptied the trash
Everybody went down
To that million dollar bash

Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash

Well, I'm hittin' it too hard
My stones won't take
I'm get up in the mornin'
But it's too early to wake
First it's hello, goodbye
Then push and then crash
But we're all gonna make it
At that million dollar bash

Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash

Well, I looked at my watch
I looked at my wrist
Punched myself in the face
With my fist
I took my potatoes
Down to be mashed
Then I made it over to
That million dollar bash

Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
Ooh, baby, ooh-ee
It's that million dollar bash

frjustin said...

Dear Scribe, My parade example of timorous Protestants ruining a fine hymn is Father Faber's "Faith of our Fathers". He dared to subscribe to the ancient Christian doctrine of intercessory prayer, and presumed to write this unacceptable stanza which alludes to the possibility that Jesus had a mother:

Faith of our Fathers! Mary's prayers
Shall win our country back to thee:
And through the truth that comes from God
England shall then indeed be free.

This of course being offensive to Protestant ears, an anodyne substitute was found, or rather, several non-dogmatic substitutes, still in use today:

Faith of our Fathers! we will strive
To win all nations unto thee.


Faith of our Fathers! Faith and prayer
Shall win all nations unto thee.

The winning of all nations is of course an admirable goal, but is it really necessary to exclude the Mother of God from interceding for such a worthy goal?

Pelerin said...

I agree with Scribe and would add another alteration which jars although it was done for a different reason. In the English version of the Stabat Mater used in my parish the 'thees' and 'thous' of the original perfectly rhyming English translation have been replaced which results in 'you' occuring at the end of the line with is supposed to rhyme with 'me.' Obviously the original translation had 'thee' to rhyme with 'me' - all the other 'yous' occur in the body of the hymn so are acceptable to the ear but not at the end of a line.

Ian said...

I am puzzled. I have only ever sung as an Anglican and as a catholic " when wicked men ......" I
I Didn't even know there was an alternative.

John Nolan said...

FW Faber's 'O come and mourn with me awhile' makes it into A&M but with the second line changed to 'O come ye to the Saviour's side'. In the same hymn post-V2 hymnbooks have changed the line 'While soldiers scoff and Jews deride'.

As a boy I remember singing '"Fear not," said he (for mighty dread had seized their common mind)' which makes perfect sense. Everyone now sings 'troubled mind' which makes no sense at all, since 'mind' should be plural and the shepherds' minds would in any case not have been troubled until the angel of the Lord appeared. Presumably the change was made because to ignorant people 'common' means 'uncouth'.

Hymns are religious poetry and should not be tampered with. Urban VIII and the Jesuits' mucking around with the Office hymns in order to 'improve' the Latin is notorious. The originals have been restored, but sadly too late for the Liber Usualis.

Pelerin said...

How I wish more of Faber's hymns would be sung today. I only found out recently that in 1931 my father wrote one of the music versions to the hymn 'My God how wonderful thou art.' Sadly I have never had the opportunity of singing it.