The bowdlerised song, which replaces “Joy to the world, the Lord is come, Let earth receive her King” with the lines “Joy to the world, for peace shall come, Let this be our refrain” came out top of a poll hosted by Ship of Fools, the religious humour website.
Other Christmas favourites altered for the politically-correct age include O Come All Ye Faithful, with some congregations told to sing “O come in adoration” instead of “O come let us adore him”, which is apparently considered too gender specific.
By Matthew Moore
Hark the Herald Angels Sing has also been updated, with the line “Glory to the Christ child, bring” deemed more inclusive than “Glory to the newborn king”.
The website’s Steve Goddard said they were inspired to start the poll after dozens of readers complained that their local churches had made clumsy alterations to songbooks.
“We’ve all noticed the “new” words, grimaced, tried to remember what the original lines were, shaken our heads in bemusement, and politely carried on singing,” he said.
“Theologically-modified carols will ring out everywhere this year. Innocents like king, man, son, virgin and Lord have been slaughtered to make carols more modern and inclusive. In some cases, entire verses have been rewritten.”
He added: “How long will it be before we have to sing ‘Oh Vertically Challenged Town of Bethlehem’ because ‘little’ is perceived to be politically incorrect?”
The Rev Richard Mulcahy, from the Church in Wales, in Newport, South Wales, said that churchgoers were right to stick to traditional lyrics at Christmas.
“The tongue-twisting and general drop in volume from using the new words is just not worth it,” he said.
“So even if we use modernised words for hymns at other times of the year, when it comes to carols we have to throw out the changes.”
Christmas songs can reconnect us to our childhood sense of wonder, or drive us right up the freakin’ chimney. For the 12 days of Christmas, we’ve made our lists of the naughtiest and nicest non-novelty rock-era ditties. You check ’em twice.
Madonna had been around the block far too many times to get away with playing the infuriating Betty Boop-ish ingenue. When Eartha Kitt made a case for being a good, deserving girl — “think of all the fellas that I haven’t kissed” — it was mildly amusing. When Madonna trotted out the line, it was just another reason for Sean Penn to start throwing ornaments.