Christian mother's anger after 'Lord' is removed from 'Away in a Manger' lyrics at school nativity

(Photo: Unsplash/NeonBrand)

A Christian parent says she fears Christianity is being "silenced" after being told by her children that the word "Lord" had been removed from the lyrics of "Away in a Manger" at their school. 

The decision was made by Zakia Khatun, the headteacher of Whitehall Primary School in Chingford, East London, reports Christian Concern, which is supporting the parent, named only as Margarita.  

Instead of singing the original lyrics of "the little Lord Jesus", her children told her that the lyrics had been changed to "the little baby Jesus". 

Margarita said the change to the lyrics had left her children "upset". She says that she met the headteacher to raise her concerns about the exclusion of Christian children at the school, but to no avail. 

They will be performing the amended version of the popular Christmas carol at a forthcoming nativity taking place at a local church on December 17. 

Infants at the school have already had their own nativity 'celebration' using the altered lyrics, Christian Concern said, adding that parents were not allowed to attend the event. 

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."

"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."

Commenting on why the removal of the word 'Lord' for Christians is so significant, the former Bishop of Rochester, 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 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."

Andrea Williams, chief executive of Christian Concern, said that such a change "guts the Christian message of its truth".

"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."

The Diocese of Chelmsford responded to the claims, saying: "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."

Whitehall Primary School said in a statement: "We are a community school serving children from a range of faith backgrounds.

"In the past, not all children were able to come together to celebrate Christmas, so we have worked hard with our local church to ensure the celebrations this year are accessible to all our children to participate in, together, as one community."