The other day my daughter reported to me on the drive to school that she and her class would be singing in city hall, possibly in front of the mayor. “Which songs?” I enquired. “Swingle Bells” she said. “It’s like, a swinging version of ‘Jingle Bells.’ Oh and also ‘Tue Tue.’ It is an African song expressing thankfulness for the harvest.”
“Swingle Bells and Tue Tue?” I mused to myself. “Welcome to Christmas in twenty-first century Canada.”
Now if you don’t know me well you might be prepared for a diatribe against secularism and political correctness run amok. “Let’s put the Christ back in Christmas!” And all that.
But actually I quite like the idea of my daughter’s class singing “Swingle Bells” and “Tue Tue”. After all, what else would you have them sing? “Silent Night”? Goodness. My daughter’s elementary school class includes Muslims, Sikhs, Buddhists, as well as at least one atheist/agnostic and several kids who don’t have any firm beliefs. Why would anybody expect such a diverse group of non-Christians to sing from the canon of Christian hymnody?
My daughter can sing Christmas carols at home and in church. And that’s exactly right because those are the songs of the church. Once they become the soundtrack of a secular holiday, they become effectively meaningless, like printing”In God we Trust” on money or singing “God keep our land” in a national anthem.
Baptists have always distinguished ourselves in the careful separation of the church and state for the sake of both. And with that in mind, singing “Tue Tue” on the steps of city hall is just fine with me.