Friday, March 05, 2010

Sons and Daughters


Six thousand words in a Throne Speech and a handful about the national anthem steal the day. The proposal is an examination of the rather exclusionary word "sons" to describe all Canadians, regardless of gender. I am ready and willing to sing O Canada any time, anywhere. That said, I would have no problem with a little tweaking to make it more inclusive. I know some are saying that this is wretched PC-itis, political correctness at its worst. But I have already lived through a fairly significant change to our beloved anthem once, so how can it hurt?

I will listen for any changes with interest because the United Church has revised or ruined, depending on your perspective, a number of hymns through the years. Most of those alterations were for the better in my estimation. Even though there were some minor changes to Jesus Loves Me we have all lived to tell the tale, and those who want to sing the older version do so. The United Church Creed, first published about forty years ago underwent some changes to make it more inclusive. Most of us have probably forgotten those revisions occurred.

Are you ready and willing to sing a more inclusive version of O Canada? Would you prefer that it be left alone? It has been argued that the original version, written in French, didn't include the word sons.

8 comments:

Laurie said...

I would welcome a change that would include me. I never sing that line, I am not a son and it has always irked me. Also I think most of our hymns have improved for the better.

IanD said...

I think it's a hot potato tossed by the government to distract voters from their most dubious budget.

And I'll say this once again: you cannot extract something from the historical period from which it originated and judge it by today's standards. The use of the words "Sons" in the national anthem typifies the accepted mentality of the time period (1880) that the song was written; a period fully thirty years before women gained the vote.

Change it? Fine. Knock it? Well ...

lionlamb said...

I will share this from blog newcomer Bill, who sent this in the form of an email:

MY FEELINGS ARE THERE ARE MANY MORE IMPORTANT ISSUES OUR GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE ATTENDING TO . I DO NOT HAVE OBJECTION TO USING INCLUSIVE LANGUAGE WHEN OR WHERE EVER BUT LETS GET ON WITH THINGS WHICH WILL MAKE THE WORLD A BETTER PLACE.

IanD said...

Amen, Bill!

But, do you see what I mean? While we're all talking about this, we're NOT talking about the budget!

shirport said...

How about changing the first line, as someone on the CBC mentioned this morning. "O Canada, our home ON native land."

Shirley

Laura said...

I'll sing it loud and proud either way! Your insight on historical extraction helps makes sense of so many of our traditions, Ian. Thanks.

lionlamb said...

Thanks to everyone today. Stimulating. I like the alteration to the other line Shirley.

I think we always need to ask whether our goal is to maintain historical documents, songs, holy books, or if we see them as living reflections of our culture.

I might not change Pilgrim's Progress as literature, but I will read a modern paraphrase of the bible even though the King James is still powerful. I want scripture to speak to the context in which I live. And while I love singing old hymns I don't mind if some words are altered.

So we wrestle with change! And I agree that the budget trumps playing with words.

Susan said...

Headline in the Toronto Star, above the mastline - 'O Forget It - Tories sing a new tune on anthem' and the story inside says that the PMO's office has waved the white flag and the proposed review will not be happening as there was an overwhelming majority of people who wanted the anthem left alone. Unfortunately, Ian is very correct - more energy and words have probably been spent on the Government's proposed change of our anthem then on the tax changes.