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The Forth in Praise Organists' Blog

The personal views of a Catholic parish organist

August 16, 2019

Those wicked men again!

evelyn @ 2:45 pm

I’ve blogged before about the demise of the wicked men, and yesterday I mourned them yet again as I played ‘I’ll sing a hymn to Mary’ on the Feast of the Assumption. For sadly, this traditional old hymn, much-loved by my generation and earlier ones (it was my father’s favourite hymn) has been wrecked by the compilers of the Laudate hymnal.

The last two lines of each verse have been changed from:

When wicked men blaspheme thee,
I’ll love and bless thy name.

to the bland and uninspiring:

O may I imitate thee
and magnify God’s name.

The change may have been made in line with some form of political correctness – is ‘blasphemy’ a proscribed word these days? – even though insults to the Blessed Virgin and the Church in general don’t seem to have ceased. Mayhew had altered the phrase to ‘wicked ones’ (yet more political correctness!) but had kept the blaspheming, which wasn’t too major a change, I suppose. But if you take ‘man’ as meaning ‘Mankind’, then the wicked men should really be allowed to stand.

The organ likes the wicked men because it can do a ‘snap’ on ‘wicked’, which makes it sound quite angry. I decided to be a bit wicked myself yesterday and did the snap anyway, even though the words were ‘may I’ and were set to two straight crotchets.

(with snap)

(as in hymn book)

And in verse 1, just at this point, I was sure I heard the word ‘blaspheme’ coming from down below. I listened carefully and at verse 2 there it was again. Yes, a goodly number were singing the old words, bless them. But why?

I worked it out afterwards. First, a weekday Holy Day hasn’t the same formality as a Sunday. There is no newsletter to pick up, and so people often forget to pick up a hymn book. Therefore they sing from memory where they can, and, again because it is a weekday, there are a lot of retired people whose memories are of the wicked men. Added to that, the hymn was sung at Communion. People don’t take their hymn books when they go up to receive Communion, so that makes more people singing from memory.

And the memories could well have been triggered by my organ snap!

Must try it again sometime.




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