For a performance in its “winter program,” a Wisconsin elementary school has changed the beloved Christmas carol “Silent Night,” calling the song “Cold in the Night” and secularizing the lyrics.
According to Liberty Counsel, a religious-liberty law firm representing a student’s parent, kids who attend Ridgeway Elementary School in Dodgeville, Wis., will sing the following lyrics to the tune of “Silent Night”:
Cold in the night, no one in sight, winter winds whirl and bite, how I wish I were happy and warm, safe with my family out of the storm.
Liberty Counsel says this year’s winter program included decorating classrooms with Santa Claus, Kwanzaa symbols, menorahs and La Befana, a mythical witch that’s a part of traditional Christmas celebrations in Italy.
A letter the law group sent to the school demands a change in the winter program. Liberty Counsel attorneys say they are prepared to file suit if the Dodgeville School District does not immediately remedy the situation.
“For those who deny that there is a war on Christmas, the Wisconsin school district is exhibit A,” Mathew Staver, Liberty Counsel president and general counsel, said in a statement. “The law is clear – Christmas is constitutional. When a public school intentionally mocks Christian Christmas songs by secularizing their content, they cross the line from a neutral position, which the Constitution requires, to a hostile position, which the Constitution forbids. Changing ‘Silent Night’ to ‘Cold in the Night’ – come on, let’s stop this madness! Does the school not realize that Christmas is a national holiday?”
Controversy over Christmas and its celebration in the public square has reached a fever pitch this year with battles raging over everything from what to call evergreen trees to whether or not retailers allow their employees to wish customers a “merry Christmas.”
“Silent Night” is the most recorded song in history. The carol was written by Franz Gruber and Joseph Mohr. Gruber led the singing of his new song for the first time during an 1818 Christmas Eve service in Oberndorf, Austria, accompanying the choir on guitar.
Julie Piper, principal of Ridgeway Elementary, did not return a call by press time.