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Sleep In Heavenly Peas (The Cattle Are Glowing)
by Dan Vander Ark
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On numerous occasions my wife has said to me, “That’s NOT the way that song goes!” I am notorious for singing (make that – trying to sing) the wrong lyrics to songs.

More than once I’ve been flabbergasted to find that the lyrics floating around in my head are the wrong ones. And apparently a lot of people get the words kind of goofy. When you do a quick Google search of “misheard lyrics” or “Mondegreens” (more on the meaning of that word in a moment), you get quite a few hits.

For instance, we may sing, "She's got a chicken to ride," but that is not what John, Paul, George and Ringo had in mind when they wrote “Ticket to Ride.”

And when Bachman-Turner Overdrive sang “Taking Care of Business,” they had no idea that some little old lady in a bakery would be singing, "Baking carrot biscuits, everyday!"

And did Crystal Gayle have any idea that her song “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” would be sung as “Donuts make my brown eyes blue?" (Was probably the same bakery lady that sang the previous song).

And who would have ever dreamed that “There’s a bathroom on the right” isn’t exactly how Creedence Clearwater’s song “Bad Moon Rising” goes. “There’s a bathroom on the right” is a lot more comforting than knowing "there's a bad moon on the rise." That sounds a little spooky.

And titles can get discombobulated and come out a little comical too. It was my friend Jim at church who, with a bit of a grin, talked about “"Gladly, The Cross-Eyed Bear." I’ll let you figure that one out.

But it’s primarily during the Christmas season that lyrics get jumbled and mumbled, mangled and bangled and come out down right funny. Wrong words run rampant!

So when I try to sing that song made famous by Bing Crosby, “I’ll Be Home for Christmas,” its:
I’ll be home for Christmas
You can count on me
I’ll be there, with some fake hair
I won’t even look like me
(I guess deep down inside I don’t want snow or mistletoe or presents under the tree, I want hair on top of my head!)

Because of our ignorance of some of the phraseology of the old Christmas songs and with the limited vocabulary of little kids, misheard lyrics flourish. The website “http://wordinfo.info” gives the origin of the term “Mondegreen”:

The term 'mondegreen;' representing a series of words resulting from the mishearing of a statement or song lyric, is generally attributed to Sylvia Wright, who is credited with coining the term in a 1954 Harper's column. Ms. Wright was not pleased to discover that for many years she had misunderstood the last line of the first stanza in the Scottish folk ballad "The Bonny Earl of Murray," which is written as:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And they laid him on the Green.

Ms. Wright misheard this stanza as:

Ye Highlands and ye Lawlands,
Oh! Where ha'e ye been:
They ha'e slain the Earl of Murray,
And Lady Mondegreen.

So I guess I pull a Mondegreen when I start the second verse of “Away in A Manger” with, “The cattle are glowing…” Although I guess some people think that “The cattle are lonely…”

And why on earth would you want to, during a “Silent Night,” sleep in heavenly peas? I hate peas. I’ve always hated peas, I will always hate peas, and heaven won’t change my mind about peas.

And for all the gentlemen out there? Well…

Get dressed ye married gentlemen,
Let nothing through this May.

Someone wants to “Deck the halls with Buddy Holly,” and after falalalalalalalalalling, they will “see the blazing Yulbie Forest!” That’s so gnarly. But what’s a yulbie?

And you know that big, purple dinosaur called Barney? Some kindergartner, obviously in love with that brontosaurus, sang “The First Noel” and turned Barney into royalty:

Noel, Noel, Noel, Noel,
Barney's the King of Israel!

And either the shepherds washed their socks by night or they walked their fox by night…maybe both. Perhaps after walking their foxes they had to wash their soxes.

And New York may not know it, but they have a king:

Hark! The herald angels sing,
Glory to the New York King.

And that old hymn continues (from the mind of a 6 year old):

Joyful oily nations rise;
Join the triumph of disguise.
With the jelly toast proclaim,
Christ is born in Bethlehem.

Burl Ives (in the form of a jolly snowman) sang “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas” on that animated “Rudolph, The Red Nosed Reindeer” movie. But somebody from Wisconsin must have altered the lyrics:

Have a holly jolly Christmas,
It's the best time of the year.
Well, I don't know if there'll be snow,
But have a cup of cheese.

And can’t you just see some little red haired girl with pigtails and freckles singing her heart out (albeit off key):

Joy to the world!
The Lord has gum.

(Maybe she was looking at little Johnny over in the next pew chewing on some Bazooka Bubblegum.)

And when Santa shows up in town, we better watch out because “he’s making a list of chicken and rice” (He’s evidently on a diet).

And who knows who came up with this form of “Silent Night”:

Silent night, holy night;
All is calm, all is bright.
Round John Virgin, margarine child;
Holey and lint, sewed tender and mild.
Sleep in heavenly peas;
Sleep in heavenly peace!

(Someone else besides me was thinking about peas!)

And who hasn’t heard a whole season full of Mondgreens when it comes to “The Twelve Days of Christmas?”

On the twelfth day of Christmas,
My tulip sent to me:
Twelve drummers drumming,
Eleven pipers piping,
Ten lawyers leaving,
Nine lazy Hansons,
Eight maids a-milking,
Seven warts on women,
Six geezers ailing,
Five gold Onions!
Four colanders,
Three French hens,
Two turtle gloves,
And a cartridge in a pantry.

I’ve always felt they should just start that song on the twelfth day and call it quits. It just goes on and on and on and on and on. Kind of like “Father Abraham” in children’s church: right arm, left arm, right foot, left foot, right elbow, left elbow, turn around, sit down, fall down. And does Miss Piggy grate on anybody else besides me when the Muppets sing this song???

I love winter, I love hiking in the woods and meadows on a really cold day and beholding the beauty of God’s creation. But I never knew that you had to watch out for spiders and alligators and a creepy circus clown snowman. Note these Mondgreens from “Winter Wonderland”:

In the meadow we can build a snowman;
Then pretend that he is sparse and brown.
He'll say, "Are you merry?"
We'll say, "Nomad!
But you can do the job when you're in town!"

Later on we'll count spiders
As we think by the fire
To face, I'm afraid,
The plans that we made
Walkin' in a winter wonderland!

Here’s the clown/alligator variation:

In the meadow we can build a snowman,
And pretend that he's a circus clown.
We'll have lots of fun with mister snowman,
Until the alligators knock him down.

(Must be some of those Arctic Alligators you see on the internet)

Well, I hope you got a chuckle out these. Have a wonderful, wonderful Christmas. Don’t get stressed out…if you do, just go take a nap in some heavenly peas. And remember: Jesus is the Reason for the Season! “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Dan Vander Ark

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