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I recently admitted that I sing to Al in the shower, and mostly I sing him the classics, except for this week when I thought it might be nice to start teaching him a Christmas carol.

I thought we would start with something simple, Away in a Manger, except halfway through the second verse I was faced with a moral conundrum: As a mum I find the lyrics profoundly wrong, and can I really teach my son a song I feel so strongly about?

Just to remind you how it goes:

“The cattle are lowing, the baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus no crying he makes”

No crying? So what you’re telling me, oh long dead Victorian moralist, is that the epitome of good, the living God on Earth wakes up, but doesn’t make a fuss? Have you ever met a baby?!?

Surely what this song is saying is

Good child = quiet child

Or in other words, listen well small children, if you want to be like Jesus then don’t make a fuss, be good, and be silent. If you’re not then you’re not like Jesus and if you’re not with him, you’re against him, and you know what that means ...

How miserable a message is that?

Worst of all, it made me think of all the children who have innocently sung that song over the year, me included. Not really thinking about what we’re singing, but reaffirming that idea generation after generation. It might be traditional, but so was public hanging, doesn’t make it fit for today’s society. Unless we want to get rid of votes for women and public healthcare while we’re there.

I think some alternative lyrics are called for here, or potentially a night out.

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