Anglican Gifts

When talk of ecumenism has come around, I’ve suggested that the Church’s fall into denominationalism is perhaps not as bad as it seems; the different traditions have preserved different aspects of the Gospel. I’ve mentioned before that while the Lutherans maintain justification by grace, the Presbyterians uphold the sovereignty of God, we Anglicans retain the proper pairing of w(h)ine and cheese (and let’s not forget the fudge…).

However, there’s a very nice piece up at the New Liturgical Movement on one of the genuine gifts of the Anglican tradition–effective, reverent worship in the English vernacular. Although, we’d best be careful about our heritage… The Byrd compositions featured at the NLM are wonderful–but how often do we Anglicans here them? When was the last time you heard a good Solemn Evensong at your parish? We have great traditions, and riches in them to share with the rest of the Christian world; let’s not leave them rotting at the back of our cupboard.

8 thoughts on “Anglican Gifts

  1. Mike Feldman

    In many minds there is a connection between the 1928 BCP and ecclesial conservatism. I disagree. I was born in 1964 and raised in the Episcopal Church. Politically, I am a liberal somewhere to the left of Abbie Hoffman. I am a gay man. But I really miss that old Prayer Book. I miss the liturgical music that went along with it. I haven’t heard liturgical music by Healy Willan or John Merbecke in over two decades. Anglican Chant? It’s not rotting in a cupboard. It was set out on the curb with the household discards a long time ago. Although we no longer have Morning Prayer on Sunday mornings, the 79 BCP Eucharist could occasionally include one of those great old Canticles at some point. The Te Deum and Benedictus (wouldn’t the Benedictus be suitable in Advent?) have long been abandoned. I probably last sang my favorite, the “Benedicite, omnia opera Domini,” during the administration of Gerald Ford. We used the chant setting by J. Troutbeck for that Canticle, #633 in the Hymnal 1940. That was fun even for a 10-year-old chorister to sing. I remember that it captured my imagination to joyfully and loudly call upon stars, moutains, green things, beasts, and cattle to praise and magnify God. I doubt I will ever hear it again. Evening Prayer doesn’t have to be a choir concert with passive, silent laity. When I was a kid, our entire congregation could sing W. Crotch’s Magnificat chant (that chant setting is in the Hymnal 1982 but I haven’t heard it used in 20 years). I find that I am, these days, drawn to liturgies totally without music. I actually began going to an early liturgy when a self-appointed liturgical policeman informed me that during the creed I should refer to the Holy Spirit as “she.” Silly me, I was just minding my own business and following along with the text of the BCP. Most of the music I loved and grew up singing has been cast aside in the name of progress I suppose. Can an inclusive Church make more of an effort to include old traditional Anglican texts along with newer ones? Or are the older texts deemed hopelessly politically incorrect?

  2. bls

    Mike, take a listen to the St. Thomas Fifth Avenue webcasts, and you’ll hear all that and more. Choral Evensong at least 4 times a week, and wonderful mass settings from every era. You just have to give them your email address, that’s all.

    It’s not dead in some places, anyway, and there are lots of us online who are fans these days, too….

  3. Mike Feldman

    I suppose some of this music is available on CD. Actually personally participating in a liturgy is very different from listening online or to a CD. I don’t live anywhere near New York. It would be nice to find a parish near where I live. I have a feeling my musical and liturgical tastes are in the minority.

  4. Derek the Ænglican

    Amen, brother!

    I agree with both you and bls, Mike; getting to hear it online is a great thing–but isn’t the same as being there.

    I believe that Anglican chant may be heading for a come-back (along with plainsong) but the way that it happens is with you and me doing something about it. In M’s last parish, she reintroduced Anglican chant in a place where it had not been heard in decades. It took a few weeks to really catch on, but folks genuinely appreciated it once it did.

    We need to start offering quick little adult ed classes—maybe only a session or three would be sufficient to inform people of what chant is and how to do it.Talk to the music director–what are their objections and how can they be overcome? Acquire one of these—and maybe even a few for the parish and/or the music director. Read through this handy article on grass-roots musical change in the parish—and think about how to start it!

  5. Pingback: Anglican Whine and Cheese « A Blogspotting Anglican Episcopalian

  6. Марко Фризия

    I was born in 1964. I am gay, recently widowed. I am a total leftist politically. I agree with everything Mike Feldman said in his post from 8/2008. I like the ’79 book, but I wouldn’t object to regular use of the old book as sort of an “extraordinary rite” available for the faithful. I miss hearing and singing Wilan, Merbecke — feel like they are lost to me forever (it was 1980 the last time I heard/sang them). I loved William Crotch’s Magnificat. I miss the sung Decalogue responses. I miss W.H. Walter’s Venite, the alternative for the ‘Nunc Dimittis’ called ‘Benedic, anima mea’ by J.F. Burrows (#679). I would pay to be able to sing Troutbeck’s Benedicite, omnia opera Domini from the Hymnnal 1940. I don’t understand the hostility to older Anglican rites (like they suddenly were decided to be defective). CDs don’t replace participating in good liturgy. I would probably attend a continuing Anglican parish if they had good music. Mike, you are NOT in the minority. I know other liberal and gay people who agree with us.

  7. Caelius Spinator

    I am very sorry to hear Марко you are recently widowered.

    “I would probably attend a continuing Anglican parish if they had good music. Mike, you are NOT in the minority. I know other liberal and gay people who agree with us.”

    I know liberal and gay people who sing good music at continuing Anglican parishes and then tell me about how odd they found the non-musical parts of the liturgy. Every year at my parish they sing a piece that actually talks about the Jews killing Jesus. This is a parish at which Jews and Muslims feel comfortable showing up on Christmas and Easter and come back year after year. Except it’s in Latin and they don’t translate it correctly in the bulletin. (Hey, some of us still speak Latin.) It bothers me every year.

    I’m not sure I would like living in a world free from irony or contradictions or whatever (the Holy Spirit?) allows people who would have been judicially murdered during large swathes of Christian history to appreciate much of the liturgical, musical, and theological heritage of those eras. The key I think for Anglicanism is that our disagreements really need to occur in a context of some sort of standard for catechesis and worship.

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