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My mother told me once that it was a mortal sin to sing Christmas carols if it wasn't Christmas. (I think she was just tired of listening to them.) Even though I loved Christmas carols I was deathly afraid to sing any before November 1 or after Christmas, or else I would go to hell when I died.
I always thought the line of "In Exelsis Deo" from the carol "Angels We Have Heard On High" was actually "Angels eat eggshells daily", and informed my very confused mother that I didn't want to go to heaven, because I didn't want to eat eggshells.
When I was 6, my class sang "Silent Night" for the school Christmas program. One of the kids asked the teacher what a virgin was. She said that "round yon virgin mother and child" mean that the mother and child were around on the other side of a mountain. Even after I learned the real meaning of the word virgin, I still thought that it was an alternate word for mountain. This was especially confusing to me because I am from West VIRGINia, also known as the Mountain State.
When I was younger our class was practising "we wish you a merry christmas" for the holidays. And instead of singing "oh bring us some figgy pudding", I believed the words were "Oh bring us some friggen pudding." Well, how many 5 year old's know what figgy's are??
In the Lutheran church I attended every Sunday, we sang "Hosanna, Hosanna, Hosanna in the Highest." One really beautiful woman in the choir also had an amazingly good voice, and because the choir stood in a loft far above the rest of us parishoners, and no one told me what the word "Hosanna" meant, I figured that "Hosanna" must be the woman's name and we were singing about her.
When I was little, I didn't know that "want" used to mean "need" as in "needy," so I thought that when you said, "The Lord is My Shepherd, I shall not want," you didn't want the Lord being your Shepherd & wished he would just go away.
I also thought that at Christmastime you sang, "Round yon virgin," because she was round, because she was pregnant with Jesus.
I also thought that the choir at Compline was singing about "God the Holy Parakeet." I still don't really know what a paraclete is.
When I was a little kid (3 or so) my mom and I listened to Buddy Holly all the time, so of course I knew who he was and all. Anyways I sang that christmas carol "Deck the Halls" as "Deck the halls with Buddy Holly"
When I was 5, I first went on a plane-a Virgin Atlantic one***-to America. When I returned, at school we had to sing hyms every day, and one time we sang "The Virgin Mary had a Baby Boy." Being the slightley odd child that I was, and not realising what Virgin meant, I thought that Virgin Atlantic Planes had sponsered the song. Damn.
***It was Halloween when we flew, and there was a witch drawing competition, and my sister won. She won a soft toy (a dog) and named it Virgin.
God knows what my parents thought about that!
In school we had to sing "Jesus riding on a donkey." My brother, then four or five years old, came home proudly singing it...
Except that he thought Jesus was riding on a DOGGIE.
When I was a kid, I went to a Catholic elementary school, and we'd have mass where we all to sing hymns. There was one, I think it went "Go tell it on the mountain", but I always heard it as "Goatillet on the mountain" and imagined a goatillet as a strange goat-like creature standing on a mountain top. I always wondered why anyone would write a song about that, and what it had to do with religeon.
When I first went to school, we sang the same hymn every day. no one ever taught you the words, you just picked tehm up as you went along. So I spent three years of my life thinking Jesus had a dancing sofa, cos I was singing "I am the Lord with the Dancing Settee" (instead of "I am the Lord of the Dance, said he")
When he was a kid, my husband thought the hymn "bringing in the sheaves" was "bringing in the cheese."
When I was about four I thought that the song "Go tell it on the mountain" was "Go telly on the mountain." I thought that the song was about a television sitting on top of a mountain broadcasting a news program about Jesus' birth. Even today, when I hear the song, I imagine a television sitting there all alone in the snow with a nativity scene on the screen.
When I was five, we often used to sing a hymn at school called "Lord of the Dance". However, whenever we came to the chorus I had this peculiar image of God and Jesus jumping up and down like deranged maniacs on a large couch. The problem, as I discovered years later, was that where the words were actually "I am the lord of the dance said he", I was hearing "I am the lord of the dance settee"!
When I was a very small person, my fatehr used to teach me little songs. One of these songs was to the tune of "Onward Christian Soldiers" and I believed that the words my father taught me were the real words. The first time I was able to stand up and sing hymns in church, I jumped onto my seat and proudly belted out, "Lloyd George knew my father, father knew Lloyd George!! Lloyd George knew my father, father knew Lloyd George!!" over and over until the hymn was finished. My mother was horrifed but my father had to excuse himself becuase he was laughing so much.
At Sunday School we sang a childrens hymn with the line "pity my simplicity". My young sister was heard singing the line, "pretty mices come to me".
I went to a church school and from the age of 4 was convinced the words of the hymn "All things Bright and beautiful" were followed by the line "All creatures stuffed with straw" I think its possibly due to early childhood visits to a local taxidermy museum...... what were my parents thinking of! Still dont know what comes next.
At church we sang a hymn with the refrain, "Sing praises to His name, He forgets not His own." For the life of me, I couldn't figure out why I was being asked to praise God simply for remembering His own name.
My mother was raised Catholic at a time when the mass was still conducted in Latin, and picked up a rather garbled half-understanding of the language. So, at Christmastime, when everyone was singing "Adeste Fideles," she was absolutely convinced that "Venite adoremus" ("O come let us adore him") meant "Here comes the dormouse."
as a child my aunt thought that the hymn "Gladly the cross I'd bear" was about a bear called Gladly who had - yep - crossed eyes. . .