Tuesday, November 27, 2012

If You Need Me, I'll Be Over Here... Arapining

I know what you're thinking. Ok, I actually don't know what you're thinking most of the time, but every once in a while, I say something and I know what you're thinking. How, you might ask?

Because I'm thinking it myself. It's beginning to sound a lot like Christmas.

And welcome to another holiday season filled with merriment and cheer, some coal, undoubtedly Maids a Milking, along with a festive edition of the Mynd. You've got a lot going on, so I will be brief.

So, I'm rocking the station playing all the Christmas music. I'm of the crowd who puts up the tree the weekend after Thanksgiving and starts playing the music. I even have lights to surround my desk at work. But I digress, which is my habit. So, the song O Holy Night comes on the radio sung by some voice that likely belongs to a teenage girl. I prefer that song by Como or Cole, but again I digress.

O Holy Night is a song, so long sung in our lifetimes that many of us learned it as small children singing along with our parents. We don't need lyrics or sheet music, we're going to belt it out, without...thanks!


For some strange reason, and not the one that caused the Grinch's heart to grow 3 times its size, I paused as I belted out the third line. You know the one...



"Long lay the earth, in sin and arapining"

(the emphasis is on the PINE, which is the reason for the Christmas Tree, of course)

So I raced home to begin a night of unearthing and bringing you the definition of arapining. I assumed that because it was a churchy tune, it must have been a Hymn. I further assumed that being old and a Hymn, it would have to be written in the King's English where thee doth naught use words that wouldst be foundeth in thy modern eras.

Alas, not to mention Alack, (like smart Alack) I looked at the lyrics and found to my horror, not a new old word, but rather the following:

"Long lay the earth, in sin and error pining"

Well my friends, I have already tried to define 'pining' and despite my enthusiasm, I can only help to correct your diction of the lyric.

It would seem that a formerly French song, which was translated into English some 160 years ago by John Sullivan Dwight played some games with punctuation.

Obviously, you were led to believe that Mother Earth was laying around being lazy and pining or longing to get into some trouble. The true "error" was in lacking a proper comma AFTER "error" which would give us a more understandable (yet still using the word pining) translation:

"Long lay the earth, in sin and error, pining 'Til he appeared, and the soul felt its worth."


With that lesson for the day, I leave you to your shopping and decorating and general merriment. (Mary's Mint? Is that what hip-hop name they're calling Jesus these days?)



  1. Actually, I believe the lyric is, "Long lay the WORLD in sin and error pining" but you have fun with your Old English/French arapining.

  2. I've never noticed this lyric before. Confusing.

  3. Just one of the services I offer...

  4. Thanks for noticing my mistake...I would have sung it right...you wouldn't want to hear it, but it would have been right.

  5. I never thought about this, but now can't get it out of my mind. But thank you for giving me info to be the annoying guy at the office Christmas party explaining the words and meaning to everyone who sings it now.

  6. When I was a wee little guy, instead of "Sing Hosanna" at church, I sang "Sing Lasagna." But I couldn't say "Lasagna," so it sounded like "Basanya"

  7. I love this.

    Here's a translation of O Tanenbaum's second verse, from german to english...

    "O maid, O maid, how wrong is your soul?
    You swore to me in my good fortune,
    I am poor now, you're going back --
    O maid, O maid, how wrong is your soul?"

    Now I ain't sayin she's a gold digger.... (get down, girl, go 'head, get down)

  8. My annoyingness has gone viral...excellent!


  9. Well that's going to be stuck in my head this year!


  10. Thanks Brandon. It's interesting how things get translated.





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