nun singet und seid froh!
Unsers Herzens Wonne
leit in præsepio
und leuchtet als die Sonne
matris in gremio.
Alpha es et O.
On his FaceBook page, Deacon Greg Kandra has a photo of a hymnal turned to a hymn titled "Good Christian Friends Rejoice" with the comment "Really?" He found the substitution of "men" to "friends" awkward, but that is not where the discussion went. One comment smugly noted "That's how it was in my old church's hymnal, and we sang it EVERY YEAR. I sang the real words, though." Mmm. Unlikely. The 'real words' — or at least the original — are quoted above. Pretty sure no one was singing those today.
The discussion has gotten sad and ugly, many people want a return to "the original" or purport to sing "the real words." And then there is the litmus test crowd, real Roman Catholics would not care about the use of the men to mean "all people": "any woman who would be offended by that isn't in my church anyway..." Or "Our language does reflect that male is the general form of humanity and female a special form; the male is prior. To eliminate this would require much more dramatic changes in our language. There are woman who want to do that, but most of them see that they cannot be Christians. " Heavens, someone needs to take some Latin, and read all of Genesis, not just the one story where woman is created from man.
But the real irony of the whole thing is that "Good Christian men rejoice" is a far stretch from the original, which begins "In dulci jubilo, nun singet und seid froh!" In sweet jubilation, let us sing and rejoice! No men, Christian or otherwise are referenced in this verse or either of the other two.
All this said, it's a hymn with historic significance. The text of the hymn is from the 14th century. It first appears in the life of Dominican mystic Heinrich Suese, and may be the oldest example of a vernacular Christmas carol. It's a macaronic text (one that mixes Latin and vernacular rather indiscriminately).
While I'm not thrilled to know that my sense that men refers to the male of the species and is not an inclusive term makes me unwelcome to some of my faith, or less than truly Christian, I am pleased to thereby have discovered Suese, who defended Meister Eckhart against heresy, and recorded the words to the lovely hymn "In dulci jubilo..." Let us rejoice!