Press Release

Anger as headteacher removes ‘Lord’ lyric from ‘Away in a Manger’

15 December 2019         Issued by: Christian Legal Centre

A Christian mother is speaking out against the neutralising of Christian faith in the name of inclusivity at her children’s school after the headteacher announced that the word ‘Lord’ would be removed from this year’s nativity.

Margarita was told by her children that the headteacher of Whitehall Primary School in Chingford East London, Zakia Khatun, had announced in assembly that the lyrics to ‘Away in a Manger’ would be changed. Instead of ‘the little Lord Jesus’, the children will sing ‘the little baby Jesus’ at the nativity taking place at a local church on December 17.

‘Little boy Jesus’

A nativity ‘celebration’ for infants at the school, which parents could not attend, has already taken place with the original lyrics to the famous Christmas carol omitted.

Margarita said: “I picked my children up at the end of the day and they were so upset, saying to me: ‘Mummy, today in assembly the headteacher told everybody that she would be changing the words to the Christmas song.’ I was so shocked. As a family we go to church, pray together and celebrate Christmas as the birth of Jesus as the Son of God.”

Headteacher, Zakia Khatun, had announced in the assembly that the rationale behind the change was so that ‘all pupils can participate in the celebration’. It is understood that other parents and staff at the school are not happy about what has happened.

After a meeting at the school, the head reinforced the decision despite Margarita explaining that parents had not been properly informed. She added that the decision had failed to solve the problem of inclusion and instead would lead to the majority of Christian children being excluded.

‘My children have been discriminated against’

Margarita said: ‘I am not alone; teachers and other parents are not happy about this. I believe my children have been discriminated against and they have been denied the freedom to fully express their faith.

“I am taking this stand as Christian belief and tradition, which means so much to so many people of all generations, is being sacrificed and silenced in the name of inclusion and political correctness.”

Central truth of Christian faith

Commenting on why the removal of the word ‘Lord’ for Christians is so significant, Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali said: “We need to respect the original form of the carol and the intention with which it was written. The words the ‘the Lord Jesus’ occur three times in the carol and point to the central message of Christmas which is: God is with us in Jesus.

“Everything in the Church, where the nativity play is being held, points to this central truth of the Christian Faith.

“If parents do not wish their children to participate in a Christian nativity play and any accompanying worship, they should be able to opt out and the school should provide an alternate activity for such children, but basic Christian teaching should not be changed just to accommodate everybody.”

Millions of Christians recognise Jesus as Lord

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said: “School nativities are special and provide unique memories for parents and children each year.  

“It is special because the Christmas story, and carols such as ‘Away in a Manger’, give a message of timeless beauty and hope.

“Jesus, the baby born in a manger who millions of Christians throughout history recognise as their Lord and is born into a messy world to bring light and salvation.

“Removing the Lordship of Christ at Christmas guts the Christian message of its truth around which the whole of western civilisation once based its culture.

“Let’s put the Lord Jesus Christ back into Christmas.”

In response to the news, the Diocese of Chelmsford, said: ‘The service maintains the traditional Christian message of the joy of Christmas in a way that can be celebrated by everyone, including those of other faiths and none.’


Notes for Editors

Away in a Manger lyrics

Away in a manger, no crib for His bed
The little Lord Jesus laid down His sweet head
The stars in the bright sky looked down where He lay
The little Lord Jesus asleep on the hay

The cattle are lowing, the poor Baby awakes
But little Lord Jesus, no crying He makes
I love Thee, Lord Jesus! Look down from the night sky
And stay by my side till morning is nigh

Be near me, Lord Jesus; I ask Thee to stay
Close by me forever, and love me I pray
Bless all the dear children in Thy tender care
And take us to Heaven to live with Thee there

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