(Photo: Reuters/Mario Anzuoni)
Some fans of NBC's hit show "The Voice" took to social media to express their anger after the word "Lord" was not included in a performance of the hymn "Will the Circle be Unbroken?" on Tuesday's episode.
The song was performed by the season's top eight contestants backed by the Starbucks Chorus, a Seattle-based, philanthropic singing group. In the song's chorus, the word "Oh" was sung in place of the commonly used "Lord."
"Why sing a gospel at all if you're just gonna take out the very person the gospel centers around?" wrote one Twitter user.
"Take out The Lord and it isn't even 'Will the Circle be Unbroken' anymore...It's a song about Heaven with no God. That's not okay," wrote another.
Upset fans used Twitter to complain to "The Voice" judge Blake Shelton, and some even seemed to blame him for the lyric change. "Don't look at me!" he wrote to one upset social media user. "I sang it the way I grew up on it."
"I don't know what, uh – how it happened, or – I'm learning about it just like you guys are," Shelton told Zap2it after the performance. "I was sitting in my chair singing that song how I grew up on it, with 'in the sky, Lord, in the sky.' I sang it as loud as I could. And that might be why I didn't realize until after the fact that 'Lord' was either taken out, or it was just performed some other way."
Mark Burnett, the show's executive producer, also expressed surprise that the performance did not include "Lord."
"Especially for those of us who know this song from church so well ... I realized immediately what had happened," Burnett told Zap2it. "I thought I'd misheard on the sound. Then came the next chorus, and I'm like, 'OK, it's live TV, so I've got to wait until the next commercial break. I'm running over there and asking the question.'"
Burnett, who says Starbucks was also unaware of the lyric issue, says the show had to use the public domain version of the song in order to offer a free download of the performance on iTunes. The public domain version does not have the word "Lord" in it, though it also does not contain the word "Oh."
The lyrics to "Will the Circle Be Unbroken?" were written by Ada R. Habershon, and the music was written by Charles H. Gabriel. The word "Lord" was included in a version released by the Carter Family in 1935, and was also sung in performances by the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson and others.
"The Voice" performers sang a shortened version of the song. Verses that refer to the "dying Saviour" and "songs of heaven" were also not included in Tuesday's performance.