Roy Exum: Don’t Change ‘Silent Night’

Saturday, December 21, 2013 - by Roy Exum
Roy Exum
Roy Exum

When the Osgood Intermediate School in King’s Park, N.Y., was preparing for this year’s Christmas concert, it wasn’t exactly the Three Wise Men who made the decision they should change the words to a song rather than offend anybody. Nope, it was school superintendent Susan Agruso, principal Rudy Massimo, and the choir director who decreed this is an age of political correctness, got out their scissors and clipped three small phrases from the most beautiful Christmas song ever written.

Dashed from the songsheet to “Silent Night” were the lyrics, “Round yon Virgin” and “Holy Infant” and “Christ the Savior,” all replaced with the words, “sleep in heavenly peace.” A cluster of clowns would have known that “Silent Night” might be the most universally recognized Christian song in the world and, while the choir could mumble and hum all they wanted, every man, woman and child in the audience was furious by the final curtain. Now the rage has made Kings Park infamous.

Kings Park is a small but proud community located on New York’s Long Island – that sliver of land you see on maps at the bottom of the state -- and this week the uproar has been a dandy. Network television and newspapers across the country have reported what the three Grinches did but when the School Board met, angry parents were there in force.

One, a man named Kevin McDonald, said, “I decided to speak to the Board not because I am intolerant, but because I believe in tolerance. We should all be free to practice or not practice our own faith in our own way. I believe that what I think is sacred based upon my beliefs and my faith should be respected. I believe that what you think is sacred based upon your beliefs should also be respected.

“The decision to change the words to Silent Night was unfortunate, disrespectful and wrong,” McDonald added. “Using poetic license on a song that tells the story of the birth of Jesus is just a bad idea. There were many other songs that could have been performed, and there really was no reason to torture the integrity and meaning of Silent Night, a sacred, simple and timeless Christian hymn.”

The school board immediately issued a statement: "The Board of Education sincerely apologizes to our community members who were offended by the change of lyrics to the song Silent Night and we share in your sentiment. This action was not approved by the Board of Education or district administration, nor is it their role to approve the songs chosen for our concerts."

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The Reuters news agency is reporting that a man who is married to a man in a state where same sex marriages are allowed is wondering if he could now come to North Dakota and marry a woman without breaking the law. The answer is: Of course he can – North Dakota does not recognize same-sex marriages. But we’ll have to get back to you on marriage benefits, same-sex benefits, tax exemptions and bigamy/polygamy puzzlers.

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The Marist Institute for Public Opinion has announced the most annoying word in the American language is the casual “whatever.” Spokesperson Mary Griffin told reporters, “The word is dismissive and rude.” Other words that cause angst and should be removed from a one’s personal vocabulary are “like” (via Facebook), “you know,” “just saying,” and “obviously.”

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Remember Robin Roberts, the gutsy co-anchor on ABC’s “Good Morning America” who had some real health issues and, this time last year, was undergoing a bone marrow transplant? You’ll be glad to know she has made such a rebound ABC just handed her an annual contract for $10 million. Asked what she attributes to her success, Robin smiled and said her parents taught her the three D’s: “Discipline, Determination, and De Lord.”

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Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitts’ beautiful wife, recently underwent a double mastectomy in order to keep from getting breast cancer and now there are reports she will have her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed. It is widely known the death of her mother, Marcheline Bertrand, last year at age 56 affected Angelina deeply and doctors fear Jolie’s genetics are worrisome.

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Today (Saturday) marks the day the Earth’s axis points in a northernly direction close to the second-magnitude star Polaris, also known as the Pole Star. At exactly 12:21 p.m. today, everything in the sky will appear to revolve around Polaris. It is known as Winter Solstice and is one of four major way stations in the Earth’s yearly orbit of the sun. In other words, fall turns into winter today.

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