Surrender to Your Darkest Dreams, Kids, in Church

Last night I attended Junior's school concert in the church of St. Catherine in Stockholm. Here are some of the lyrics sung by the 13-14-year-olds in front of the altar.

Because the world is round it turns me on

Because the wind is high it blows my mind

"Because", Lennon & McCartney


Night-time sharpens, heightens each sensation
Darkness stirs and wakes imagination
Silently the senses abandon their defenses

Slowly, gently night unfurls its splendor
Grasp it, sense it, tremulous and tender
Turn your face away from the garish light of day
Turn your thoughts away from cold unfeeling light
And listen to the music of the night

Close your eyes and surrender to your darkest dreams
Purge your thoughts of the life you knew before
Close your eyes let your spirit start to soar
And you'll live as you've never lived before

Softly, deftly, music shall caress you
Hear it, feel it secretly posses you
Open up your mind, let your fantasies unwind
in this darkness that you know you cannot find
The darkness of the music of the night

Let your mind start to journey through a strange new world
Leave all thoughts of the life you knew before
Let your soul take you where you long to be
Only then can you belong to me

Floating, folding, sweet intoxication
Touch me, trust me savor each sensation
Let the dream begin, let your darker side
give in to the power of the music that I write
The power of the music of the night

You alone can make my song take flight
Help me make the music of the night

Charles Hart, "The Music of the Night", from The Phantom of the Opera

Welcome to the Church of Sweden!

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As comedian Hasse Alfredson put it many years ago, apropos a Swedish church election:

"Vote for vicar Jansson! Vicar Jansson is a true representative of the Church of Sweden! He has absolutely no opinions on anything!"

Well, I love it! Bring on the music. Once my son performed in the youth talent show accompanying the traditional pancake dinner on Shrove Tuesday at our Episcopal church. He played and sang â uncensored â "Locomotive Breath" by Jethro Tull. (Look up the lyrics if you've forgotten them, or they are before your time!)

I've sung a few rather lewd madrigals in various churches. It is amazing what you can get away with as long as you sing it Italian or Latin.

I have never thought of the Phantom of the Opera (or anything Lord Webber has composed, for that matter) as particularly lewd, morbid or offensive in any way. And the witty Lennon lyric was not even banned by the Beeb to the best of my knowledge. But then, "Please please me" wasn't either...

Here in Germany, English is almost as opaque as Latin to a lot of people. "Bobby Brown (Goes Down)" by Frank Zappa was a big hit for that very reason.

Codero, I work all day to get the money to buy you things. But it's worth it just to hear you say you're gonna give me everything.

Certain English words don't tend to have the same shock value, here in Sweden, that they usually have in the native English speaking countries. Just across the road from my son's primary school there is a bus shelter, in which for several weeks there was an advertisement for an American comedy show on a cable channel. The program in question was the Sarah Silverman show and the advertisement consisted in a picture of Ms Silverman looking back over her shoulder while bent over and pointing to her rear end. The caption to the picture was: "I'm Fucking Matt Damon" (and no censorship of any fucking word!).

I've made similar mistakes in conversation. Expletives just don't pack the same visceral punch in your second language. A few years ago I gave a talk at a conference in Orkney and managed to say "oh fuck" in front of 70 UK colleagues when something went wrong with my slide show.

A Swedish colleague of mine did the same thing at a conference recently (except she said "Oh Shit!" when the powerpoint crashed).
Funnily enough the kids in my sons primary school seem to use English curse expressions quite often - my son is always coming out with "Shit!" and "What the Fuck!" that he's picked up from his classmates - none of whom (apart from him) speak any English!