Category : Liturgy, Music, Worship

(AP) No handshakes: Viral outbreak spooks Asian places of worship

In a popular Catholic church in the Philippines, nearly half of the pews were empty for Sunday Mass. The few hundred worshippers who showed up were asked to refrain from shaking others’ hands or holding them during prayers to prevent the spread of the virus that started in China.

In Hong Kong, Cardinal John Hon Tong, wearing a mask, announced the suspension of public Masses for two weeks and urged churchgoers to instead watch them online.

Buddhist temples, Christian churches and Muslim mosques have been ordered closed since Jan. 29 in mainland China, where the new coronavirus strain was first detected in the central city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the outbreak. Mosques have canceled weekly Friday prayers since January under an order to avoid “collective religious activities.”

Religious leaders should encourage Muslims to “trust the party” and avoid crowds, the Communist Party-controlled body that oversees China’s officially authorized mosques said in a statement.

The restrictions and dwindling crowds in religiously diverse places of worship underscore the extent of the scare over the outbreak that has permeated many aspects of life in the hard-hit Asian region.

Read it all.

Posted in Asia, China, Health & Medicine, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Religion & Culture

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Fanny Crosby

O God, the blessed assurance of all who trust in thee: We give thanks for thy servant Fanny Crosby, and pray that we, inspired by her words and example, may rejoice to sing ever of thy love, praising our Savior; who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–What is going on in the Bishops’ comments on Civil Partnerships?

Marriage is a creation ordinance, a gift of God in creation and a means of his grace. Marriage, defined as a faithful, committed, permanent and legally sanctioned relationship between a man and a woman, is central to the stability and health of human society. It continues to provide the best context for the raising of children.

This is what you would hear if you attended any marriage service in the Church of England. And the statement last week does indeed have many virtues, as (slightly surprisingly) Jeremy Pemberton points out:

The latest pastoral guidance by the Bishops of the Church of England is designed to address the change in the law in England and Wales that has now opened up Civil Partnerships to opposite sex couples as well as same sex ones.

In the guidance they have provided, the bishops make one or two things clear:

  • Sex is for heterosexual marriage and nowhere else
  • That civil partnerships are a form of friendship
  • That they should be sexually abstinent, whoever is in the CP

Let’s look at the good things first. First of all, this is clear guidance. No one can be in any doubt about where the bishops stand over the question of sexual relationships. Secondly, at least it does not discriminate further against LGBT people – it takes precisely the same stance over the sexual lives of heterosexuals as well. Thirdly, there is a certain bravery about offering guidance that is so massively at variance with the mores of the time. According to a recent survey, only 4% of British people now think that sex should wait until marriage in all cases.

All three of these things are important, not least the fact that the statement treats people of different sexuality in precisely the same way. It is worth noting that, if the bishops had decided to call the Government’s bluff at this point, and said ‘Look this is a duck!’, in other words, that the legal differences between CPs and marriage were in fact negligible, then they would have needed to withdraw the previous statement, and ruled that same-sex clergy couples could not now be in CPs. No-one appears to have noticed this, and I wonder what the response to that would have been, especially at this stage in the Living in Love and Faith process?


This leads us into the question of the responses and criticism. The first common one was about the timing; why make this statement now, given all that is going on? The simple answer is that the Government changed the law, and this created a gap in the previous statement. Better say something now, before a clergy couple entered a CP and something had to be done retrospectively. Some complained about the closeness to the reporting of the Peter Ball affair—but that is completely spurious, as there is no real connection between establishment protection of a someone who abused young men, and the idea that marriage is the right place for sex. If anything, the latter is an appropriate response to the former.

But, secondly, there were loud howls of protest that a statement was being made whilst the Living in Love and Faith process was underway—howls based on a bizarre misapprehension. LLF has never involved suspending the current doctrine of the Church on marriage and sexuality—after all, weddings are continuing, and the liturgy continues to express that doctrine! In fact, LLF is not even designed to be a process that revises the doctrine of the Church on marriage.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Leander Harding–the mission of a Cathedral to the modern world

In the remainder of this report I want to focus on responding to the immense missionary challenges that are facing the Christian Church in general and the Cathedral in particular. In November I gave a set of talks in the Diocese of Dallas on this problem entitled Modernity and Mission. The topic was the focus of my study and prayer for the Summer and Fall. I believe I have a better understanding of what is distinctive about the missionary environment in which we find ourselves and greater clarity about what an authentic missionary engagement with modernity looks like. I have been trying to share some of these thoughts in the Dean’s Forum. As a result of this study I believe strongly that The Cathedral of All Saints is uniquely positioned to be especially effective in reaching contemporary people for the sake of Jesus Christ.

There are many blessings of modernity for which to give thanks, modern medicine and a remarkable rise in the standard of living right across the world. Modernity is also characterized by what the old preachers called worldliness, a mentality which is preoccupied with the things of this world in which God is not so much denied as forgotten. The experience of transcendence, of holiness and otherness is rare. The experience of awe which leads to worship is rare and so modern people are in jeopardy of losing their souls and of losing that which is essential to our humanity: the worship of the one true and living God. It requires something powerful to break out of the captivity to this worldliness and the diminution and constriction of the human heart that must be its consequence. It requires something like a Gothic Cathedral.

Read it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Secularism, Theology

More Music for Epiphany–The Three Kings – Peter Cornelius

Listen to it all.

Posted in Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Epiphany 2019–Brightest and Best of the Sons of the Morning [Thrupp]

Words: Bishop Reginald Heber
Tune: ‘Epiphany’ – Joseph Thrupp

Posted in Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for Epiphany–Jacob Handl (1550–1591): Omnes de Saba venient

Posted in Epiphany, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Christmas–John Rutter: All Bells in Paradise

(A new carol written for the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge in 2012)

Lyrics:

Deep in the cold of winter,
Darkness and silence were everywhere;
Softly and clearly, there came through the stillness

a wonderful sound to hear:
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Sounding in majesty the news that they bring;
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Welcoming our Saviour, born on earth a heavenly King.
All bells in paradise I heard them ring:
‘Glory to God on high’ the angel voices sing.

Lost in awe and wonder,
Doubting I asked what this sign might be:
Christ our Messiah revealed in a stable,
A marvellous sight to see.
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Sounding in majesty the news that they bring;
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Welcoming our Saviour, born on earth a heavenly King.

He comes down in peace, a child in humility,
The keys to his kingdom belong to the poor;
Before him shall kneel the kings with their treasures,
gold incense and myrrh.
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Sounding in majesty the news that they bring;
All bells in paradise I heard them ring,
Welcoming our Saviour, born on earth a heavenly King.
All bells in paradise I heard them ring:
‘Glory to God on high’ the angel voices sweetly sing.

Enjoy it all.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Christmas: Carol of the Bells (for 12 cellos) – The Piano Guys

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Oxford in Voice (6/6): Christmas

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music For Christmas-O Magnum Mysterium [T. L. de Victoria (1549-1611)] from Holy Trinity Coventry

Listen to it all. A reminder of the English translation of the words:

O great mystery,
and wonderful sacrament,
that animals should see the new-born Lord,
lying in a manger!
Blessed is the Virgin whose womb
was worthy to bear
Christ the Lord.
Alleluia!

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

More Music for Christmas–Handel: Messiah, For unto us a child is born

Enjoy it all from the London Symphony Orchestra.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The story behind the Longfellow poem that became a Hymn–I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day, A Carol for the Despairing

Like we do every year, my parents took my brother and me to see “A Christmas Carol” on stage to get everyone into the Christmas spirit (which is no small feat at the end of November). The story is familiar and heartwarming, but the song they ended their production with struck me: “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” Set to music a few decades later, this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was written over Christmas of either 1863 or 1864, in the middle of the bloodiest war in American history.

The carol is not cotton candy; it is a beating heart, laid bare in seven stanzas with simple language. At the second-to-last verse, I noticed dimly that I had begun to cry; by the end of the song, my face was wet with tears.

“And in despair I bowed my head;
‘There is no peace on earth,’ I said;
‘For hate is strong,
And mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good-will to men!’”

It isn’t quite right to call this a cynic’s carol, but in this verse it is a desperate and bitter one. It’s a carol from a man who has had the nature of the world uncovered before him. It’s one of the only carols that still rings true to me in 2018.

Like all good poets, with “Christmas Bells” Longfellow reached out across almost 155 years of history to take my hand.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., Christmas, Church History, Death / Burial / Funerals, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Military / Armed Forces, Poetry & Literature

Music for Christmas 2019– Pentatonix’s Mary, Did You Know?

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The Gloucester Cathedral Choir sings In the Bleak Midwinter for Christmas 2019

Listen to it all.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

The Coventry Carol for the Feast of the Holy Innocents

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(MEE) Sudan celebrates Christmas publicly for first time in 10 years

The church bells rang in Khartoum on Wednesday as Sudan marked Christmas as a public holiday for the first time in 10 years.

Thousands of Sudanese Christians celebrated in the streets of the capital, where they were joined by activists sending a message of co-existence, as well elsewhere in the country, including rebel strongholds in the southern Nuba mountains.

The holiday was announced by Sudan’s civilian cabinet, which has spoken about improving religious equality after decades of rule that sidelined minorities.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Sudan

More Music for Christmas 2019–Cantanta No. 4 From Bach’s Christmas Oratorio

Listen to it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Hark the Herald Angels Sing–the Original Lyrics from Charles Wesley

Hark, how all the welkin rings,
“Glory to the King of kings;
Peace on earth, and mercy mild,
God and sinners reconciled!”

Joyful, all ye nations, rise,
Join the triumph of the skies;
Universal nature say,
“Christ the Lord is born to-day!”

Christ, by highest heav’n ador’d,
Christ, the everlasting Lord,
Late in time behold him come,
Offspring of a virgin’s womb.

Veil’d in flesh, the Godhead see,
Hail th’ incarnate deity!
Pleas’d as man with men t’ appear
Jesus, our Immanuel here!

Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.
Hail, the heavenly Prince of Peace!
Hail, the Sun of Righteousness!
Light and life to all he brings,
Risen with healing in his wings.

Mild He lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die;
Born to raise the sons of earth;
Born to give them second birth.

Come, Desire of nations, come,
Fix in us thy humble home;
Rise, the woman’s conquering seed,
Bruise in us the serpent’s head.

Now display thy saving power,
Ruined nature now restore;
Now in mystic union join
Thine to ours, and ours to thine.

Adam’s likeness, Lord, efface;
Stamp Thy image in its place.
Second Adam from above,
Reinstate us in thy love.

Let us Thee, though lost, regain,
Thee, the life, the inner Man:
O! to all thyself impart,
Form’d in each believing heart.

You can find the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal version here (which only includes 4 stanzas). The 1982 Episcopal Hymnal includes simply three verses (with modified language)–KSH

Posted in Christmas, Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for Christmas–O Magnum Mysterium – Morten Lauridsen

O magnum mysterium, et admirabile sacramentum, ut animalia viderent Dominum natum, jacentem in praesepio! Beata Virgo, cujus viscera meruerunt portare Dominum Christum. Alleluia
O great mystery, and wonderful sacrament, that animals should see the new-born Lord, lying in a manger! Blessed is the Virgin whose womb was worthy to bear Christ the Lord. Alleluia!

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music to Lift the Soul toward the End of Advent–We The Kingdom – God So Loved

Take the time to listen to it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

([London] Times) Joyful and triumphant, cathedral choirgirls finally overtake the boys

After more than a millennium of male dominance choirgirls now outnumber choirboys in England’s cathedrals for the first time.

The tradition of boys singing in cathedral choirs dates back at least 1,110 years with the first boy choristers singing at Wells Cathedral in the year 909.

There are now 740 boy and 740 girl choristers in English cathedrals, according to church statistics, but The Times has learnt that both of these figures have been slightly rounded up. There are, to be more precise, now 739 girls and 737 boys, marking the first time that choirgirls have outnumbered choirboys.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Children, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Women

(Telegraph) British composers have started a new craze for Christmas carols

The peak of the tradition in the 20th century has to be Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, composed in the depths of war in 1942. After the war, the rich stream of carols abated somewhat, though there are some fine carols from the Fifties and Sixties such as Anthony Milner’s Out of Your Sleep Arise and William Mathias’s Sir Christèmas. The real surprise, though, has been the upsurge of carol writing in the past 30 years. This is partly due to the efforts of some far-sighted choirmasters who’ve actually commissioned new carols, such as Andrew Nethsingha at St John’s College Choir Cambridge, and the late and much missed Stephen Cleobury of King’s College Choir.

Cleobury commissioned a new carol for the famous Nine Lessons and Carols every year from 1983 onwards, and persuaded some unlikely people to contribute, including the young Thomas Adès. The plaintive, haunted sideslipping harmonies of Adès’s Fayrfax Carol is absolutely typical of him, proving that composers don’t have to repress their natural musicality to write something appropriately festive or (in this case) rapt and mystical.

Even more striking is Judith Weir’s Illuminare Jerusalem, also commissioned by King’s College Choir. She sets a medieval Scottish poem exhorting Jerusalem to be “illuminated” by the wondrous events happening within its walls, in a way that captures the magic of the scene while obeying the ancient verse form.

Read it all.

Posted in Christmas, Church History, England / UK, History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Music

Simply Wonderful–John Rutter on the Importance of Choir

Take the time to listen to and ponder it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Wordwise Hymns) Robert Cottrill on the hymn ‘My Faith Looks Up to Thee’

…with more technical subjects, getting an overview can assist us in keeping the details straight. It can give us mental hooks to hang specific facts on, so we can recall them, and make use of them in an orderly and effective way.

There’s a sense in which many of the hymns of the church can do likewise, serving as summaries of biblical truth. There are Trinitarian hymns, for example, that teach us things about the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Or take a simple gospel song such as At Calvary, which gives a clear and compelling explanation of God’s plan of salvation, and how to receive it.

Ray Palmer gave us another simple song like that in 1830. It’s a prayer hymn, still appreciated for its clear message and a singable tune. Lowell Mason, who provided the tune, told Pastor Palmer:

“You may live many years and do many good things, but I think you will be best known to posterity as the author of My Faith Looks Up to Thee.”

He was right. The four stanzas teach us about four aspects of the Christian life, and they can be identified with four key words.

Salvation
Eternal salvation is found in Christ alone, called the Lamb of God (Jn. 1:29). It is through faith in Him and His Calvary work that we are saved (Jn. 3:16).

CH-1) My faith looks up to Thee,
Thou Lamb of Calvary,
Saviour divine!
Now hear me while I pray,
Take all my guilt away,
O let me from this day
Be wholly Thine!….

Read it all.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

A Recent TEC Liturgy called the Way of Love up North used by the Presiding Bishop and gathering at Northern Center at Northern Michigan University this Fall

Read it all (from the long line of should-have-already-been-posted material).

Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Michael Curry, Presiding Bishop

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Isaac Watts

God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.God of truth and grace, who didst give Isaac Watts singular gifts to present thy praise in verse, that he might write psalms, hymns and spiritual songs for thy Church: Give us grace joyfully to sing thy praises now and in the life to come; through Jesus Christ our Savior, who livest and reignest with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Spirituality/Prayer

Food for Thought from the remembrance Sunday liturgy

‘Go forth into the world in peace; be of good courage; hold fast that which is good; render to no one evil for evil; strengthen the fainthearted; support the weak; help the afflicted; honour everyone; love and serve the Lord, rejoicing in the power of the Holy Spirit; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.’ (from the service for Remembrance Sunday SPCK)

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

William Temple on Worship for His Feast Day

Both for perplexity and for dulled conscience the remedy is the same; sincere and spiritual worship. For worship is the submission of all our nature to God. It is the quickening of conscience by His holiness; the nourishment of the mind with His truth; the purifying of the imagination of His beauty; the opening of the heart to His love, the surrender of the will to his purpose and all of this gathered up in adoration, the most selfless emotion of which our nature is capable and therefore the chief remedy for that self-centeredness which is our original sin and the source of all actual sin. Yes, worship in spirit and truth is the way to the solution of perplexity and to the liberation from sin.

–William Temple Readings in St. John’s Gospel (Wilton, Connecticut: Morehouse Barlow, 1985 reprint of the 1939 and 1940 original), p. 67

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

Monday Food for Thought from Tony Evans–what is our Motivation for Worship?

When the American hostages came home from Iran on January 20, 1981, the first thing they did when they got off the plane was kiss the ground. No matter what star or achievement they had earned in the armed services, when they hit the ground from Iran, they bowed down. Home sweet home. Putting their clean lips on the dirty carp, they kissed it. They went down. Because they knew where they had been and they knew where they are now. You know why folks stop bowing? Because they forget where they’ve come from. They forget they have been hostages in Satan’s territory, and now they have been made free

–used by yours truly in yesterday’s All Saints Day sermon

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Theology