Uproar Over Church Hymn Changed As to Not Offend People

St Peter's Church, Oadby cc-by-sa/2.0 - © Mat Fascione - geograph.org.uk/p/457214
St Peter’s Church, Oadby
cc-by-sa/2.0 – © Mat Fascionegeograph.org.uk/p/457214
A few will continue to sing it outside the church

The St. Peter's Church located in Oadby, Leicestershire, has replaced “Onward, Christian Soldiers” with “All People That on Earth Do Dwell” to end its Remembrance Sunday parade. This change has snowballed into a major controversy with a few members of the social club of Oadby Royal British Legion threatening to boycott its service. St. Peter's has made the change in agreement with the committee of the Oadby Royal British Legion. A few members have complained to the media, including the Daily Mail.

Uproar Over Church Hymn Changed As to Not Offend People[/tweetthis]

Contrary to the popular perception, “Onward, Christian Soldiers” was actually composed as a processional hymn to be sung by school children during the 19th century. The composition thus was written much before the two World Wars. Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould composed it. The words are metaphors for spiritual battles where Satan is the enemy. They were not intended to describe actual soldiers engaged in wars.

Arthur Sullivan, made famous by operas with the undoubtedly W.S. Gilbert, composed the music. The song's replacement, All People That on Earth Do Dwell, is also an example of Christian hymns. It has multiple references to 'God' and 'the Lord'. And also 'Father, Son and Holy Ghost'. The same hymn was sung when Queen Elizabeth had her coronation in 1953.

Reverend Steve Bailey justified the substitution saying that the hymn was replaced as people from a bouquet of cultural backgrounds attended St. Peter's service. He said that the hymn was changed after an accord was reached with the administrator of this important civic event. The Reverend also said that the committee administering the Oadby Royal British Legion recognized that people from a number of different faiths served in Armed Forces. Reverend Bailey said that he will be happy to discuss the subject with the members of the club. The social club is located directly opposite to the church on the other side of the road.

The reaction from members was not charitable. Ian Thorpe, the social club's vice-chairman, told the media that the song was sung every year in memory. He said that the song will not be sung in 2017 as not everyone present at the church service will have their religion as Christianity. The issue is not about being a soldier but a Christian. The vice-chairman mentioned one family who is opposed to the new song. He said that they will be outside the church and then sing the old song. 


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