I got together with an old grade school classmate, about 10 years after we’d graduated. We were both amateur musicians, and we would meet up regularly to play some tunes.
We’d attended a Catholic school. So we were reminiscing, with no great reverence, about church hymns we sang in school. We both confessed to having mentally revised the lyrics of certain hymns.
There was one that said, “Taste and see how sweet is the Lord.” Archaic language for sure, and I would say, begging for some irreverent re-phrasing.
Our grade school had an old, slow-moving janitor named Stanley. All the kids knew him. So my buddy recounted this lyrical substitution, which had remained exclusively own head since grade school, and was never before sung out loud:
“Hey Stanley, how sweet is the Lord?”
He crooned it out to his own guitar accompaniment. We both laughed uproariously.
Then it was my turn. I recalled a more modern, upbeat hymn that began with this line. “Sons of God, hear His holy word…”
Backing myself on banjo, I sang my version which, to that point, had lived only in my mind.
“Sun’s up God! Hear his holy word…” Again we howled with delight.
Since then I have wondered. How many other privately preserved lyrical substitutions are out there—of church hymns or otherwise–awaiting a debut on a more public stage.