Tag Archives: hymns

Deck the Halls is already vegan

Christmas carols that are already vegan, #1: “Deck the Halls”

Animal abuse is nothing to celebrate in song or otherwise.  Fortunately, some Christmas carols do not need to be veganized, since, in their popular form, they are already free from cruelty and violence.

One such carol is “Deck the Halls.” The basic lyrics were written in 1862 by Thomas Oliphant to an existing Welsh tune.  Oliphant’s lyrics have been slightly modified over time to reach what is now the most recognized form, appearing below.  Sing on!

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Deck the Halls

Lyrics by: Thomas Oliphant (as modified in version appearing in Pennsylvania School Journal in 1877)

Deck the halls with boughs of holly,
‘Tis the season to be jolly,
Don we now our gay apparel,
Troll the ancient Christmas carol,

See the blazing yule before us,
Strike the harp and join the chorus.
Follow me in merry measure,
While I tell of Christmas treasure,

Fast away the old year passes,
Hail the new, ye lads and lasses!
Sing we joyous all together,
Heedless of the wind and weather,

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Previously veganized christmas carols, songs, and hymns include Silent Night and Good King Wenceslas.

Good King Wenceslas a non-violent adaptation

King Wenceslaus Goes Vegan

Animal abuse and violence have no place in the Christmas season. Modern celebrants of Christmas, therefore, look to retain the values associated with this culturally rich holiday while refusing to grace, legitimize, or tolerate violent practices.

The Christmas hymn “Good King Wenceslas” was written in 1853 by John Mason Neale.  This song has been a standard part of the Christmas celebration since that time.  People who celebrate Christmas, whether in non-religious vegan holiday spirit or in the non-violent Christian tradition, generally recoil at the third verse as originally written, in which the king calls for “flesh.”  It’s unclear whether this line is intended to be a declaration of cannibalism or simple necrovory.  Whatever the case, this repulsive passage is clearly out of character with the rest of the story, in which the King is portrayed as kind, strong, courageous, and generous.

Thus, in order to bring this carol back into working order, a non-violent adaptation is provided below, in which “flesh” is replaced with “bread.”  This replacement is advantageous, because it (i) retains the single syllable and (ii) the essential vowel sound of the original lyric while (iii) eliminating the violent and rather disgusting cannibalism/necrovory and (iv) evoking more appropriate imagery: bread being the “staff of life” is much more powerful in and suitable for this context than is imagery of death and a rotting corpse.

Please feel free to use these lyrics in your Christmas caroling henceforth!

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Good King Wenceslas

Original lyrics: John Mason Neale; Adaptation: S. E. Harrison.

1. Good King Wenceslas looked out
on the feast of Stephen,
when the snow lay round about,
deep, and crisp, and even;
brightly shone the moon that night,
though the frost was cruel,
when a poor man came in sight,
gath’ring winter fuel.

2. ‘Hither, page, and stand by me,
if thou know’st it, telling:
yonder peasant, who is he,
where and what his dwelling?’
‘Sire, he lives a good league hence,
underneath the mountain,
right against the forest fence,
by St. Agnes’ fountain.’

3. ‘Bring me bread and bring me wine,
bring me pine logs hither;
thou and I will see him dine,
when we bear them thither.’
Page and monarch, forth they went,
forth they went together;
through the rude wind’s wild lament,
and the bitter weather.

4. ‘Sire, the night is darker now,
and the wind blows stronger;
fails my heart, I know not how;
I can go no longer.’
‘Mark my footsteps, my good page;
tread thou in them boldly:
thou shalt find the winter’s rage
freeze your blood less coldly.’

5. In his master’s steps he trod,
where the snow lay dinted;
heat was in the very sod
which the Saint had printed.
Therefore, Christians all, be sure,
wealth or rank possessing,
ye who now will bless the poor,
shall yourselves find blessing.

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