Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Hark! The Mail invents another 'PC gone mad' story

Another day, another pathetic Mail 'PC gone mad' tale.

Now the PC brigade wants to re-write our Christmas carols it screams. Do they? Do they really (whoever they are)?

Well, no.

The story is about Nic Robinson, who went to his 13-year-old daughter's school carol service and was singing 'Hark! The Hearld Angels Sing' when, shock:

he noticed that in verse two the line 'Pleased as man with man to dwell' was changed to 'Pleased with us in flesh to dwell' on the printed sheet.

Disgraceful. You can't even say 'man' any more.

The man (oh, you can say it) added:

'It's such a shame that things which are so well established are being changed for no reason at all. It makes me angry because I love the traditions around Christmas and the church.'
A weird over-reaction to a slight lyric change in a 270-year-old song. But is it right?

This is, after all, a PC gone mad story in the Mail and they haven't worked out too well recently.

They haven't done much research on this one either. A quick Google search reveals that the 'Hark!' lyrics on Hymnsite, Christmas Carol Music and many, many, many other sites contain the very same evil PC words.

Joyful Heart suggests that references to 'in flesh to dwell' appear in the Bible in:

John 1:14; Romans 1:3; 8:3; Galatians 4:4; Philippians 2:7-8; Colossians 1:15; 1 Timothy 3:16; Hebrews 1:3; 2:9-11; 1 John 4:2-3; 2 John 1:7; Revelation 22:16

Yes, those PC fiends have gone and replaced the lyrics with phrases and references from the Bible. How dare they!

The man who complained is, says the Mail, a music teacher. He should, perhaps, have known that the original version was written by Charles Wesley in 1739 and then:

rewritten by George Whitefield (1714-1770) in 1753 (changing the first two lines), and by Reverend Martin Madan (1726-1790) in 1760 (changing lines seven and eight). Other changes occurred in 1782, 1810, and 1861.

In fact, Wesley's original first line - changed by Whitefield - was:

Hark how all the Welkin rings

So why isn't he complaining about that? In fact, the Mail adds:

Mr Robinson said he did not know who changed the words

Yes. Clearly.

But it certainly wasn't that 'PC brigade.'


  1. It's Political Christmas GORN MEEEEEEEEED

  2. Would put money on this featuring in any Littlejohn column this week. Maybe a humorous r-write even!

  3. No comments on this since the story went up.


  4. Oh no, they're there now.

    Don't I look like an arse now.
    Surprisingly enough the one guy saying 'you're not doing your research' is voted RIGHT DOWN.

  5. I'm beginning to have problems reading your posts,
    I may even have to quit, I'm finding it too depressing.

    At first it made me chuckle, I would think "oh these silly Daily Mail articles, how easily they are ripped apart with just a little research and common sense"

    But after a bit of a run in with an ex-telegraph journo blogger I've realised that this is a serious problem. In a comments section to one of his posts a comment (not the blogger) had left the email address of Dr Grills and told people to let him know what they thought of him.

    People like my wonderful mother believe these stories on face value. They don't question at all because they read them in a newspaper.

    This is leading people to actually believe there are a bunch of people going round with a big red pen crossing out offensive words like "man" and "black" but even worse they are told that this country is going to the dogs because of the PC brigade and health and safety.

    But nothing can be done. the Daily mail can't be told to stop... They will never write the subsequent stories which disprove their original pieces. Their readership seem to lap it up, love all of this PC nonsense, because they are told to love it by this hate filled rag.

    Are these stories just something to chuckle about down the pub or over the garden fence, or are they actually damaging their readers lives.
    One thing is for sure they are causing a lot of problems for people like Dr Grills and Mr and Mrs Jones from the supply teacher story.

    What can we do to stop this???

  6. "What can we do to stop this???"

    Keep on calling them out

  7. "There is more important news in the world than this" - Stephen, Cambridge

    rated DOWN 42 arrows. presumably 42 mail readers think this is THE most important story in the world

  8. I spotted this guy writing in a letter to the Times as well, on the same topic. Has the world gone completely bonkers? Is nothing sacred??? :)

  9. @samhill

    I sometimes feel overwhelmed by all this too - while Tabloid Watch and co. are fantastic, a few blogs fighting against the established national press doesn't seem enough, does it?

    But if you look at a Daily Mail from, say, the 1970s, you'll see they've been peddling the same crap for decades. People do read this stuff and believe it, but it doesn't seem to go much further than that. According to the Mail, the UK has been facing apocalypse for a long time now, but we're still here and doing alright really.

    So, take heart, and thank your chosen deity that the Internet is here, to show you that you're not alone in your quest for truth! Without sites like this, there would be even less right-to-reply to the "newspapers".

    Finally, to MacGuffin and Co., you're doing a superb job, keep it coming!

  10. I tell you what HAS been banned... all the comments on the Mail's article. I'm guessing since quite a few pointed out what an idiotic story this was.

  11. I wonder why people are so ready, indeed eager, to believe the newspapers when they "report" this nonsense? - presumably because it feeds into and bolsters their preconceptions. Preconceptions which, of course, were probably formed by those very newspapers.

    Anyway, challenging it - on a face to face level - can sometimes work. Recently, an acquaintance began fulminating "These politically correct idiots make me so angry, can't say this, can't say that, Christmas, tinsel, grrr." (That's the condensed version.) I said, as if it were something which had only just occurred to me that moment, "But don't you think it's funny how in your day to day life, you read or hear people moaning about political correctness far more often than you ever hear anybody actually saying they were offended by a bit of tinsel, or that they were told to take their fairy lights down in case it upset someone? I think the newspapers just make this stuff up!".

    She thought about it for a bit and then said, "Actually you're right, I never hear anybody saying that in real life, maybe the papers do exaggerate it."

    Result! (Even if it only lasts until the next Mail headline.)

  12. There is a grain of truth in the story. I happen to think that the original Wesley words "pleased as man with man to dwell", along with the "born to raise the sons of Earth" in the third verse are particularly poetic and do suffer lyrically when these words are altered.

    For example, my church's hymn-book, entitled "Rejoice and Sing", has changed these lines to: "pleased as man with us to dwell" and "born to raise the things of Earth", both of which I find particularly ugly. In fact, I was amused when singing them in church on Sunday that some old dear had crossed the altered words out and scrawled in Wesley's original words.

    So I wouldn't exactly call it an "invented" story. The tampering-with of poetry purely to avoid the slightest possibility of being accused of being sexist annoys me. But, be that as it may, quite how the Mail editors feel it's newsworthy is beyond me, for other reasons.

    First of all, it's a matter of taste, and while I have my opinion on the matter, it's just that, an opinion.

    Secondly, it's not new. This has been the subject of debate within the church for decades. Rejoice and Sing, for example, was first published in 1991. Almost two decades ago.

    Thirdly, it's an internal debate within the church. And the debate should by rights be confined to being within the church. It's not relevant outside the church, particularly as the church is now representative of an ever-decreasing proportion of the population, a fact which, even as a Christian, I'd be the first to admit.

    This sort of nonsense doesn't really help anyone, secular or religious.


Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment.

Comments are moderated - generally to filter out spam and comments wishing death on people - but other messages will be approved as quickly as possible.