For crying out loud!<br><br>Protests as the Merry Gentlemen go missing<br>By Richard Savill<br>(Filed: 24/12/2004)<br><br>A choir at a Christmas Day cathedral service has been told to sing God Rest Ye Merry People instead of God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen.<br><br>The variation, chosen by the Very Rev John Lewis, Dean of Llandaff Cathedral, south Wales, was criticised by traditionalists, who said the decision "smacked of political correctness".<br><br>Glyn Davies, a Tory member of the Welsh Assembly, said: "I haven't heard this version of the carol and would not consider singing it under any circumstances.<br><br>"If the first line of the carol is made to scan by lengthening the word 'people', I believe the result would be obscene and entirely inappropriate to sing in a church or a cathedral. In my view it is quite ridiculous and unnecessary."<br><br>Defending the change, the dean said: "It was never in my mind to make a great statement. I wasn't seeking to be politically correct in any shape or form.<br><br>"It's true that God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen is the version that would be handed to you when you get soaking wet while carol singing.<br><br>"But different hymn books have different versions of lots of carols. In some hymn books, Onward Christian Soldiers has become Onward Christian Pilgrims.<br><br>"I have got special service leaflets down the ages and I came across this God Rest Ye Merry People and thought it expressed the essence of the Christmas joy."<br><br>Pressed on whether he felt the use of the word people was more appropriate to the modern age, he acknowledged that "ages have different perspectives".<br><br>He added: "Some may feel that the word gentlemen is outdated, and is not as good a word or as rounded a word to use as people. But whether I feel that or not is another thing."<br><br>The 32-strong parish choir, comprising 19 children and 13 adults, will sing the carol during communion.<br><br>A spokesman for the Anglican Church in Wales said: "The dean and the cathedral are within their rights to choose whichever versions of carols they wish to be sung.<br><br>"Carols and popular hymns are not set in stone and the words vary from hymn book to hymn book."<br><br>God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen was first published in 1833, when it appeared in Christmas Carols Ancient and Modern, a collection gathered by William B Sandys.<br><br>The lyrics are reputed to date back to the 15th century, although the author is unknown.<br>