Sunday, December 16, 2007

Is there any possible reason why "Where his children gather round, bright like stars with glory crowned" might be preferred to "Where like stars his children crowned, all in white shall wait around"? Is there some objection to the w-word? It's political correctness gone mad, I tell you.

13 comments:

James said...

I suppose some might be unable to parse the better-known version properly (not understanding that the subclause is "crowned all in white"), decide it's ungrammatical and decide that they could do better?

And frankly, I've always thought that waiting around sounds like a dull way to spend eternity.

Lauren said...

I think it's more likely that the objection is to the current versus the older sense of the verb "to wait". It used to mean "to serve", and the "standing around doing nothing" was part of the waiting process--waiting for orders, for example. Now, it means doing nothing much while either someone else isn't here yet--which contradicts the song--or while you are inactive because someone else needs to do something.

(Yes, it's me, aka Lirazel. Google email seems to include the ability to post here. Nice to be in virtual touch again!)

Tpolg said...

Google is gathering the whole world to itself…soon every thing will be part of the Google-plex!

nickpheas said...

Don't know. Got any context?

In some cultures White is a funeral colour.

Andrew Rilstone said...

The Christmas Carol service at Christ Church Clifton. Last verse of One Sin Royal David. Probably taken from Hymns For Today's Church, but I wouldn't swear.

SK said...

The 'current' sense of 'wait' isn't that modern -- see Milton.

SK said...

Also: 'Born to raise us from the Earth / Born to give us second birth'.

Doug said...

Is there some objection to the w-word?

I expect that's it. Modern consumer capitalism is vigorously opposed to any suggestion that people might do anything other than seek instant gratification. So you really can't go getting children to sing songs involving the word "wait".

Andrew Rilstone said...

"Thousands at his bidding speed/And post o're Land and Ocean without rest:/They also serve who only stand and wait."

Does that mean "they are still serving even if they are not doing anything at present, but standing around awaiting orders"? Or "the ones whose job involves staying in one place are just as important as the ones whose job involves gallivanting around the world?"

There words "serve" and "wait" are obviously connected: the person who serves your food might be a waiter; the person who waits on you might be a servant.

clarrie said...

Initially I thought that the first had a much better sound to it, and was a change for the better (On purely aesthetic terms anyway) and might thus have been tweaked for no more sinister cause.

But it turns out I'd read it wrong.



(Possibly my most content-free comment yet, there).

Chris said...

Waiting around sounds particularly futile to the modern ear, I feel - as though the hereafter was like eternally trying to catch the Virgin Cross-Country at New Street. But then the new version isn't particularly felicitous either, is it?

SK said...

Yes, Milton is connecting waiting and serving; but he's doing so as a contrast to the earlier part of the poem, where he bemoans his disability, which suggests (to me anyway) that his declaration that waiting is serving is in response to an idea that those who are condemned by their blindness to simply wait in one place might not be serving.

If there were no sense of 'wait' around at that time which didn't include serving, the last line of the sonnet would become a trite tautology, surely beneath Milton?

Gordon Marshall said...

You're clearly a literary type, SK. You object to tautology and rhyme riche; what's your candid opinion of anaphora?