COLOMBO: Careless proofreading led to a Sri Lankan Catholic hymn book including in its list, American rapper Tupac Shakur’s obscene and vitriolic “Hail Mary” instead of the traditional Catholic prayer of the same name.
More than a thousand copies of the hymn book were printed and sold to a large congregation at a carol service in Colombo’s largest auditorium Nelum Pokuna two weeks ago. But the mistake came to public knowledge only on Christmas Day when the social media went viral with pictures of the offending page.
The idea of the organisers was to print the traditional Catholic prayer “Hail Mary” asking for the intervention of the Blessed Virgin Mary, the mother of Jesus, to deliver the faithful from sins. But since no one applied his mind when proofreading the hymn book, Tupac’s obscene lyric going by the same title was printed.
Instead of the familiar "Hail Mary, full of grace. Our Lord is with you..." the audience was invited to sing: "...Mama told me never stop until I bust a nut. F—- the world if they can’t adjust, it’s just as well, Hail Mary.”
The American rapper had written his version in 1997.
Both renditions ask Mary, to intercede on behalf of sinners, though Tupac’s version is more exhaustive in detailing the exact sins in question, including murder and drug-dealing.
The incident took place about two weeks ago but came to light only on Christmas Day after the social media went viral with pictures of the hymn book taken by one Andrew Choksy.
“A lot of people around us were in shock as to whether it was a joke, or if someone would actually rap the song,” the media quoted Choksy as saying.
He sent the pictures of the program to friends, from where they spread and eventually found their way online.
“No explanation was given [by organisers] at all. They didn’t acknowledge it at the venue. To be honest, I don’t think many people saw the booklet at all. People were shocked at first but then took it in good humour. But I was bursting inside,” Choksy said
The Catholic church eventually withdrew the hymn book and compensated the buyers. Over a 1000 hymn books containing the obscene lyric had been sold.
"It was a human error, a genuine printing mistake. The offending version of Hail Mary was never sung. Those who bought the souvenir (with the hymn sheets) were refunded," Edmund Tilakaratne, spokesman for the Catholic Church told AFP.