Et tu, my lord? -

Et tu, my lord?

Anglican Bishop condemns beloved Christmas carols as “nonsense”


A leading Church of England bishop has slammed a number of the world’s favourite Christmas carols, saying some have “nonsense” words that are embarrassing, while others reek of “Victorian behaviour control.” Bishop Nick Baines of Croydon said “all sorts of fantasies have grown up around Christmas” that leave many people thinking of the celebration as “nothing more than some sort of fairy story.” In his new book, Why Wish You a Merry Christmas, Baines cites the line in “Away in a Manger” that goes “no crying He makes,” and wonders, “How can any adult sing this without embarrassment?” “It’s nonsense,” he says, adding that he finds it “slightly bizarre” that parents could sing that carol “as if it actually related to reality.” In the carol “Once in Royal David’s City,” a particular favourite in Britain, its line “mild, obedient, good as He” smacks of “Victorian behavior,” Baines said. For good measure, the bishop attacks another well-loved Christmas hymn, “O Come, All Ye Faithful,” suggesting that it should more accurately be called “O Come All Ye Faithless.” Baines noted that it was not the “faithful” but the shepherds—”the great unwashed,” as he described them — and the “pagan” Wise Men who went to see the baby Jesus. Baines describes such Christmas fantasies as “nothing short of tragic, because nothing could be further from the truth.”

The Pew Forum

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Et tu, my lord?

  1. Christmas carols are great. The song O'Holy Night gives real meaning regarding the Biblical Jesus Christ whom is a true historical fact. Must be a lefty liberal Bishop saying this nonsense!.

  2. He's right, of course – but why stop there? A good many of the hymns we sing throughout the year – both traditional and modern, though more the former – contain lines and concepts which seem to contradict the Gospels and current beliefs.

    Then again, Christmas itself was adapted from pagan festivals and timed to coincide with them in an effort to gain converts – and it now in turn has been converted into a pagan celebration of greed by the merchants.

    So, is he just griping publicly, or does he have a plan to restore a purer representation of our faith?

    As a chorister in an Anglican church, I'll continue to sing what I'm asked to sing, and enjoy doing so – while being quietly selective as to which hymns' meanings I apply to my own life.

  3. Without Christ birth their'd be no Christmas, does not matter about the pagan festivals for they would have died out in the western world.

  4. Quite wit that Bishop Nick! Presumably he has nothing against Christmas cheer, because his comments sound as though he'd started the Xmas Party season early.

  5. Anglicism – going rogue since at least 1246

    • Why 1246?

      • Borrowed from Wikipedia;

        "The word Anglican originates in ecclesia anglicana, a medieval Latin phrase dating to at least 1246 meaning the English Church."

        • I'm sure the "English Church" was called such before that. After all, the "English Church" dates to Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century. The Archbishop of Canterbury still has the palium on his heraldry which was a symbol that the See of Canterbury derives its power from Rome.

  6. Maybe Bishop Nick should get better acquainted with Nicholas, Bishop of Myra.

  7. I hate ALL Christmas music. It is inane at best, grating at worst.

  8. The bishop is right – a lot of the lyrics in Christmas hymns are silly. Of course, from the headline you'd think he was denouncing Christianity or something.

  9. Our former mainline churches are crumbling from within. For too long they let tradition edge out theology to the point where they have become irrelevant. Now this numbskull attacks one of the few things that still attracts people to church. Christmas Carols may not be always theologically accurate, but they are fun and enjoyable. You can always point out the inaccuracies during the sermon, in a loving way.

    Using terms like "nonsense", "Victorian behaviour control", "pagans", and "the great unwashed" displays arrogance that doesn't belong in a clergyman.