Archbishop of Sydney accused of 'vandalising' Anglican culture

MARK COLVIN: The conductor of one of the world’s most famous choirs has launched a blistering attack on the leaders of the Sydney Anglican Church.

Peter Phillips is the Director of the Tallis Scholars, as well as being a regular columnist for The Spectator magazine in London.

He’s written an article accusing the Archbishop of Sydney, Peter Jensen, and his brother Philip, the Dean of St Andrew’s Cathedral, of vandalising Anglican music and culture in their city.

This report from Stephen Crittenden, presenter of The Religion Report on ABC Radio National.

(Choir music playing)

STEPHEN CRITTENDEN: Could this be the curtain raiser to a year of conflict in the worldwide Anglican Communion, in the lead up to the Lambeth Conference in July?

Peter Phillips is one of the world’s most successful conductors of Choral music. His choir, the Tallis Scholars has sold millions of CDs.

Now, he’s launched a stinging two-pronged attack, on Peter and Phillip Jensen, over they way they’ve reduced the role of their cathedral choir in Sydney.

First, in a lecture in Perth, he’s defended his old friend Michael Deasey OAM, the former conductor of St Andrews Cathedral Choir, saying his life as a professional musician was made impossible, forcing him to leave.

Then, in an associated article in The Spectator magazine, Peter Phillips says the fact that the Dean and the Archbishop of Sydney are brothers, makes the situation for lovers of good music in Sydney, especially unfortunate. Quote “for the parishioners, there is no escaping the hard-line and destructive opinions of these two, whose double whammy, reminds one of the accumulation of power by the Kaczynski twins in Poland”.

Read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Anglican Church of Australia, Anglican Provinces

50 comments on “Archbishop of Sydney accused of 'vandalising' Anglican culture

  1. MargaretG says:

    Let’s see — the Diocese of Sydney has been growing at a significant rate — while every other Diocese in Australia shrinks. The Diocese has been having to open new churches (some of which presumably have choirs) — to increase the number of clergy (some of whom might like to hear the older music) — to work really hard to keep up with the fact that they are increasing the proportion of Anglicans in the whole community (ie they are growing faster than the population) AND

    … someone thinks it is all wrong because they are using the wrong music.

    “Go into all the world and ensure they sing the correct repertoire … ” Yeah Right!!!!!!!!!!

  2. BCP28 says:

    I disagree with any number of things that ++Sydney has done recently in relation to GAFCON, so I’ll just add this to my list of over-reaching.

    Most classically trained musicians will concede that there needs to be a wide range of musics used in a variety of service settings. As one of those musicians, who performed in an Anglican choir for a few years and is a professional conductor, I would generally agree that this is cultural vandalism. You don’t need to destroy something beautiful and meaningful to raise up something else, and the hostility of many evangelicals (and some liberals) to traditional music, albeit for different reasons, can be quite disturbing.

    You are talking about people’s livlihoods here. How do you expect them to react?

  3. TACit says:

    As evidence that something has at least ‘gone missing’ (if not been vandalised as Phillips states) from Anglican tradition with the forcing out of classical church musicianship, I would just point out that the Roman Catholics are taking up both the music and the church choral tradition forfeited by some Anglicans, at a great rate, and adding to their numbers thereby.

  4. archangelica says:

    God bless Peter Phillips and a robust “Amen!” to all that he says. A traditional choral evensong is an icon into the glory of God. Our musical heritage as Anglicans is surely one of our most beautiful gifts and treasures. May it be more cherished, more widely discovered and used. This music is liturgical evangelism, every time I hear it I want to ADORE.

  5. drjoan says:

    “God is beautiful, and can be approached – best approached – by mortal men through beauty. Any sort of beauty; I mean it could be a beautiful building, or the incense that the Catholics have. But I represent music, and my experience is that good music takes people nearer to God than anything else,”
    Philip needs to review what both Jesus and the Articles of the Faith say about how to approach God: something about “no one comes to the Father except through me” (Jesus speaking!)

  6. Cennydd says:

    I have been a chorister for over forty years, and have sung just about everything there is to sing…….from classical to spirituals to everything in between…….and I much prefer the beauty of the classics and traditional Mass settings. I also love classical Evensong. Maybe I’m old-fashioned, but I believe that the proper setting for much contemporary Mass settings is a less formal location, while a sanctuary is more proper for the classics. The beauty of the surroundings and classical music go hand in hand. They’re timeless.

  7. John Wilkins says:

    drjoan – was Jesus ugly then?

    Seems to me that he was a beautiful person… In “On Beauty” Elain Scarry remarks that one fundamental aspect of beauty is the desire to replicate it.

    that is exactly what we do when we make “disciples” of Jesus.

    The theology of Beauty is long and worthy, known especially in the Orthodox tradition. And think David Bentley Hart – as one of the more contemporary expositors.

  8. drjoan says:

    Jesus may have had a beautiful personality but I’m not sure you could call him beautiful. But of course that’s not the point. The point is, the ONLY way to approach God the Father is through the Son, Jesus Christ–whether he is good looking or not. Many have suggested that he was pretty ordinary looking. In fact, people were often turned off by what he said. And in the end, he was NOT easy to look at. He was crucified like a common criminal. That’s pretty hard to take.
    Nevertheless, he is the Son of God, the only way to know God. Right?

  9. archangelica says:

    #5 Jesus, as one of the persons of the Trinity is absolute beauty personified.

  10. archangelica says:

    I am afraid you have a poor understanding of beauty, it is not the same thing as pretty or handsome.

  11. drjoan says:

    I’m not talking about the definition of beauty or that particular characteristic of Jesus.
    I’m talking about the only way to God which is NOT beauty but the person of Jesus Christ–whether he’s beauty as you describe him or not!

  12. archangelica says:

    “Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God’s hand-writing, a wayside sacrament. Welcome it in every fair face, in every fair sky, in every fair flower, and thank God, for it is a cup of blessing.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

  13. archangelica says:

    Beauty, as an attribute of God, cannot be seperated from the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible makes very clear, from Genesis to Revelation that God is very much concerned with beauty.

  14. archangelica says:

    The Beauty of Jesus
    by St. Leonard Port-Maurice

    AFTER having formed a correct idea of the adorable Person of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of this Man-God, announced by so many prophets, patriarchs and oracles, pre-figured by so many symbols, adored by all as the Saint of all Saints and Whom all have saluted from near or afar exclaiming: “Thou alone art holy; Thou alone art the Lord; Thou alone art the Most High, Jesus Christ;” let us begin now to Contemplate His beauty. I am not speaking of the beauty of His Divinity, since our gaze cannot penetrate such heights, but of His beauty as a Man, in view of the fact that Jesus Christ is not only a Man truly Divine, but also a God truly human.

    But where will we find colors vivid enough to paint the beautiful features of this Man-God? Here I admit defeat because that is an undertaking far surpassing the power of the human mind. It was reported that the King Abigar having heard about the marvels of Our Lord Jesus Christ, sent an excellent artist to paint a true portrait of Him, but the beauty of this Divine Face was so extraordinary and the light coming from His eyes so radiant that the poor artist was completely dazzled and could not see clearly. That is why Jesus, according to what one reads in Baronius, touched with compassion by all the trouble which the man endured in vain, took a linen cloth, applied it to His Face and left upon it the imprint of His features, as if it had been traced by the most delicate paintbrush and then sent it to the pious monarch who desired it. And when the Bride of the Sacred Canticles celebrates the charms of her Beloved: My Beloved is white and ruddy, (Canticles 5:10) she depicts Jesus Christ white and ruddy like the most beautiful rose.

    Imagine for yourself, indeed, the Man-God with the most graceful manners, the most affable conversation, and the purest life. See the air of authority in this Divine Head, the majesty and the glory on this brow, the amiability and the grace on this face, the suaveness on these lips, the sweetness on this tongue, and the love in this heart. His glance alone softened hearts, His words brought delight and His actions were good deeds which charmed the heart. Is it not then with good reason that it was written of Him to be the most beautiful of the children of men?

    Saint Bridget of Sweden even assures us that the beauty of Jesus was accompanied by such a grace in His gestures, in His words, in all His steps that He delighted all the hearts of those who saw Him. His disciples, therefore, could not detach themselves from their good Master and when He asked them one day if they wanted to abandon Him like the others, they all answered Him, “To whom shall we go?” in one voice filled with emotion, “You alone have the words of eternal life.”

    Not only the disciples, but everyone ran after Jesus; entire populations were pressing about Him and followed Him across the mountains, the deserts and along beaches, abandoning money changers, boats, shops, father, mother, and all in a word, not worrying about spending many days without eating, enchained as they were by the ineffable attributes of the lovable Saviour. Even more, the whole town of Nazareth often gathered in front of Joseph’s shop to watch Jesus work and contemplate this grace, this wonderful modesty which enchanted everyone. If there was in the vicinity some poor or afflicted person, he would say immediately to himself, “I will go to see Jesus, the Son of Mary,” and the sight of Jesus would suddenly chase the sorrow from his heart, the anguish from his soul and comfort his whole being. In a word, Jesus was so beautiful that the gentiles themselves, the infidels and the barbarians came from afar saying, “We want to see Jesus.” Even when the animals, as it was revealed to Saint Bridget, saw Jesus pass by the way, leaving their pastures they would run with the liveliest displays of joy to the road where He was passing, wait for Him peacefully, watch Him in silence and lowering their heads with respect, show in their own manner, admiration, submission and love towards Him.

    Oh supernatural beauty of my Jesus, which made an impression even on the animals themselves! Oh ungrateful men, where is your heart? Is it possible that you are not moved at the sight of such lovable beauty? The cause of your insensitiveness is obvious: If you do not love Jesus, it is because you do not know Him. My brother, what is it that has the greatest power over your heart? Beauty, is it not true? Why do you not turn then your love towards this beauty of Jesus so pure and so holy? If only you knew, my brother, how beautiful He is, my Jesus—– “Love Me, My daughter,” He said one day to a virtuous virgin to whom He appeared, “Love Me, My daughter, because I am beautiful, generous and noble of heart.”

    Yes, my lovable Jesus, You are certainly beautiful and You have by Your beauty alone softened the most obstinate hearts from evil ways. Bernard Colnago found himself once in a cottage with five brigands and a wicked woman. What did he do to convert them? Did he open Hell before their eyes? No, but assuming a religious countenance, he said to them in a serious and modest tone, “Jesus is beautiful, Jesus is beautiful.” These words were the arrows which pierced those hearts of stone and all were converted.

    I return to you, my poor sinner, you who in an instant become stunned by a ray of
    earthly beauty, of a vile and degraded beauty, tell me then how you have the heart
    hard enough to resist the ineffable beauty of Jesus! I am asking for your heart, my beloved friends, I desire that your heart be captivated by the beauty of my Jesus, a beauty so sweet that it will make you happy in this life and happy through all eternity; a beauty so marvelous that it will be the delight even of Paradise and if there were not anything else to contemplate in Heaven but the beauty so pure, so holy, and so ravishing of Jesus, this would be even then an abode of ineffable delight.

  15. recchip says:

    It seems like the Jensen brothers are doing wonderful work in spreading the Gospel. They are NOT doing good work in spreading Anglicanism. There are many different traditions. As ANGLICANS we have our way of “doing church.” Baptists, Presbyterians and Charismatics “do church” differently. God bless them. Their ways may (or may not) be right, but they are not right for us (Anglicans.) If one wants to be an Anglican (and certainly if one wants to be a “leader”) then there are certain “ways that things are done.”

  16. trooper says:

    recchip, says who?

  17. ocamp says:

    I am the guy who is often holding the guitar and leading songs at various meetings. Once I was asked by a man how many of these praise songs we were singing were going to last a 100 years, or 25, or even 10 years? We chatted for a little, and he soon became very angry. He really disliked this form of music. He then revealed that he was a priest and wanted me to defend the theological justification for songs inspired from pagan worship systems. I’m not sure where he got that information from, but the conversation went sour. I have to admit I couldn’t give him the answers he wanted and became defensive.

    Since then I have observed a few things. Modern worshippers seem to care for the style of music almost more than the creeds we claim, the buildings we sit in, the ministries we operate, or even the money we spend. Try reversing the music for one month at a church and see what happens! Our praise band needed a break and several of us substituted for a few weeks. Wow – that got people’s attention! And we even played the same style, but people commented that it just didn’t “feel right.” Maybe this defines us more than we are willing to admit.

    Secondly, I think it is sad we are losing so much with the fading of the older music. But don’t be fooled, I think we ARE losing it. A few years ago we brought on a new organist and he asked the parish to fill out forms with just their “top ten” favorite hymns. Amazingly very few people did this. Even from the two “traditional” services there was a small response. And some people commented that they couldn’t think of ten they liked. MOST hymns and praise songs alike will not last for hundreds of years. But that isn’t so worrisome. We aren’t worshipping the hymns – nor the newest song – but the One who inspires us all to sing. Don’t you think? Is it the hymns that make us Anglican, or the Liturgy?

  18. ann r says:

    Isaiah 53:2 There was no comeliness in Him that we should desire Him. His appearance would not attract us to Him. (2 different translations.) I agree that beauty is an attribute of God, and beauty in our heartfelt worship is our best offering to Him, but beauty of appearance was not apparently an attribute of our Savior. I suggest that discussion is a sideline.

  19. berggasse19 says:

    I’m afraid Joan has thrown in a red herring, and refuting it wastes space.

    Our Anglican tradition, in respect to music, is one of our greatest treasures. To see a bishop beating a tambourine pains me deeply. I’m sure that the chart-happy among us will love the fact that playing pop music will bring in a few more people. But at what cost?

  20. Katherine says:

    I prefer traditional music. However, most often what’s wrong with the contemporary music is the lyrics. Traditional hymns are carefully-written poetry paraphrasing the Psalms or expressing some theological idea or the adoration of God. If contemporary musicians can work on the content then many of the objections would go away. There’s nothing inherently more Christian about English music as compared to African or modern settings, if the faith is the content.

    When it comes to the chanting of the Psalms, canticles, and the prayers at the core of the liturgy, though, re-writing the content so it fits contemporary rhythms often changes the purpose and meaning. The modern American Roman mass suffers from this to an extreme degree, which the Pope recognizes and is trying to fix. When I attend a praise band-led service, I feel a strong connection horizontally to modern Protestant Christianity. The vertical connection to the twenty centuries of saints gone before us is lost. That vertical connection is what makes Anglicans part of the catholic tradition.

  21. ReinertJ says:

    Oh dear oh dear. This is really old news, the trouble at St. Andrews was as I understand it over how to best use the choir. The Dean (remember he is the man in charge!) wanted some changes, the choir master resisted as did the parents of some of the choristers. The choir master has I believe, been replaced and the changes have been made. The prattle about the place of choirs in the Anglican tradition is a red herring. Outside of cathedrals there are very few choirs in Australian Anglican churches, in many you will be lucky to find an organist.
    Jon R.

  22. ReinertJ says:

    Actually this has reminded me of something which happened during my training. We had a visit from the Dean and the choral scholar from the Cathedral, the subject was ‘music in parishes without choirs’ this caused much mirth among the assembled ordinands as none of us had come from a parish which had a choir. In fact there were probable only three or four in the entire diocese.

    At which point the Dean ordered, basses to the left, and tenors to the right. No one moved, then one of the Ordinands in his mild Ulster accent was heard to say, we really only want to know how to tell the long words from the short ones!
    Jon R

  23. ReinertJ says:

    By the way, it is almost obligatory to have a shot at Sydney, whilst in Perth. The Jensen brothers are not really very popular with +Roger, their is as they say ‘history’.
    Jon R

  24. Dale Rye says:

    #20 puts her finger on the problem. It isn’t the music or the beauty thereof that is the real problem. It is the lyrics, which tend to be highly subjective (count the number of first-person pronouns) and focused on a limited number of themes (personal salvation and the Cross) as compared to more traditional church music.

    The big problem for me about what the Brothers Jenson did at the Cathedral was the de-emphasis of the Prayer Book Daily Offices and their replacement by prayer and praise services. What is Anglicanism without its liturgy?

  25. CliffordSwartz says:

    Here is the Cathedral’s musical schedule for the coming weeks:

  26. ocamp says:

    I’d like to push back on the language of the hymns. I find they tend toward the use of third person and that can be disengaging for me personally. It is like we are singing about someone who isn’t in the room. God is in the room with us, isn’t He? Or is that a theological misstep? Modern songs tend towards singing directly TO God and opening our hearts to him. For me, this is more effective in getting my heart and mind engaged into the liturgy – the joy and work of worship.

    I want to exalt him in every way – with accuracy, beauty, theology, and emotion. I don’t think too many songs or hymns (600+) reach this goal every time.

  27. ocamp says:

    Perhaps I have a different pattern in my head, but I thought connecting “vertically” meant with our Lord. You mention “horizontal” as protestant and “vertical” and ancient and catholic. When do we connect with Abba Father?

    I would suggest that “horizontal” is connecting with believers – in the room and ages past. Connecting “vertically” is lifting our hearts toward heaven.

  28. archangelica says:

    An interesting expirement was conducted by one of my Instructors at the Center for Biblical Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary in my ecclesiology class. The instructor compared the most popular praise songs with the vast majority of Christian hymns. A very high percentage of the praise songs did not reflect a trinitarian theology compared to a very low percentage of hymns. What we sing influences what we believe and all ideas have consequences.

  29. archangelica says:

    #18 your textproofing examples have tradionally been understood as imaging the brutal disfigurement of Our Lord Jesus during the cruel process of his torture and crucifixion. The movie “The Passion of Christ” reflected this idea with heart breaking accuracy.

  30. Dale Rye says:

    Re #25: The listing of “Music in the Cathedral” only reflects music in the Anglican choral tradition. As I understand it, the problem is the marginalization of that tradition, principally by replacing a fairly popular Sunday Evensong, and by reducing traditional music to one service on Sunday morning (alternating between Eucharist and Morning Prayer), one on Thursday evening, and a partially-choral service on Wednesday morning. It is difficult to maintain a professional choir with that little performance time. All the other services and music are now from the prayer and praise genre.

    Why does this matter? Two of the Great Verities of Liturgy: “Praying shapes believing,” and “Those who sing pray twice.” Anglican theology and spirituality were shaped in a context where the Daily Offices happened daily (14 times a week, not 2 1/2). For most of that time (1549-1922), someone who attended the Daily Offices prayed the Psalter in its entirety 12 times a year, heard the entire Old Testament once, and the New Testament three times annually. Every clergyman was under the obligation to say the offices daily and everyone with a cure of souls had a duty to offer the offices publicly in his parish church or chapel. Cathedrals, collegiant churches, and larger parishes sang the offices, morning and evening, every day. That rhythm of worship soaked into the bones of every seriously religious Anglican, clergy or lay.

    The destruction of that liturgy pattern (albeit with the best of intentions) over the past half-century is one of the things that has driven our present divisions on theological issues. A congregation that sings hymns, Sunday after Sunday, that have rousing tunes with an unbalanced theology will eventually—and sooner rather than later—come to hold that theology. That has happened in both reasserter and reappraiser parishes and has helped to drive them apart.

    I was recently at a large parish that has recently left TEC. The sermons and teaching in the parish are constant variations on a single note (how Jesus died to save me personally). A suggestion as to why? That is all their hymns teach. The music for the Fourth Sunday in Advent did not include a single verse that reflected any of the characteristic theological themes of the season; I once attended a Christmas service at the same parish that would have fit much better on Good Friday. The congregation believes that it, unlike TEC, reflects classic Anglican theology. Neither does, although the deviations are in opposite directions.

    Contemporary accounts of the Arian controversy suggest that it was not decided by bishops or emperors, but by clashing street gangs singing hymns and fighting over the wording of the Doxology. The Nestorian dispute was settled for most of the church by the title “Mother of God” used for Mary in all the old popular hymns. The form of worship and church music is not a marginal issue.

  31. archangelica says:

    #30 Wonderful.

  32. ocamp says:

    I don’t understand this example. Please explain how
    [i]rousing tunes with an unbalanced theology will eventually—and sooner rather than later—come to hold that theology. That has happened in both reasserter and reappraiser parishes and has helped to drive them apart. [/i]
    What praise / modern songs have done this? I’m especially interested in the reppraiser. If modern songs focus on the cross of Christ, how have these songs been embraced by this group?

  33. Katherine says:

    #30 Dale Rye, I agree with you emphatically. Thank you.

    #27 ocamp, I was thinking of the Church, the Body of Christ, as it extends through space (today) and time (the twenty centuries). The traditional cycle of worship as described by Dale Rye places me in church doing what those twenty centuries of Christians have done. It makes a living connection between me and all those saints who worshiped as I now do, who said these same prayers and sang these same canticles and psalms.

  34. CliffordSwartz says:

    Regarding the musical selections at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, the very piece the critic notes as an example of what is lost to the Cathedral congregation is being sung there on February 17th, making it unlikely that, as Stephen Crittenden describes, the Dean believes this anthem is an example of “an alternative gospel that we must never get tired of opposing”.

    There are many legitimate criticisms of modern praise songs lacking theological weight; however, the Jensen brothers are among those critics. The Briefing magazine, founded by the Dean, occasionally takes up this very issue. For example, the June 2004 issue offers “An Essay on Hymnody”.

    One possibility of the change for the evening service is to accomplish the very intention of reaching those who live and work daily in the area around the Cathedral.

    Whether the Dean is right or not to take these steps is beyond my capacity to comment, though it would seem that the motivation is to exercise the cure of souls in that city.

  35. Dale Rye says:

    Re #32: The music schedule from the 11 AM service on 4 Advent:

    1) Opening Song: “Go tell it on the mountain” Rousing Christmas spiritual, but says nothing about waiting for Christ’s first, second, or present coming.

    2) Kneeling Song of Praise: “By His Wounds.” The rubric and Christian tradition call for either the Gloria in Excelsis or a comparable hymn of praise at this point. In Advent, a substitute that deals with Advent themes would be appropriate. In my book, that doesn’t cover
    [blockquote]”He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our sins; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him and by his wounds, by his wounds, we are healed; by his wounds by his wounds. What can wash away my sin? Nothing but the blood of Jesus”[/blockquote]
    repeated with variations eight times.

    3) Gospel Song (repeated before and after Matt. 1:18-25, Joseph’s vision):
    [blockquote]”(Verse 1 of 4) I’m finding myself at a loss for words and the funny thing is it’s OK. The last thing I need is to be heard, but to hear what you would say. (Chorus) Word of God, speak. Would you pour down like rain? Washing my eyes to see your majesty, to be still and know that you’re in this place. Please let me stay and rest in your holiness. Word of God, speak.”[/blockquote]
    Again, what has that to do with either Advent or the message of this particular Gospel?

    4) I will note in passing that this service included a baptism… in a penitential season, rather than two days later in Christmastide. Again, this resulted in a complete diversion of attention from the theme of expectation to a message of fulfilled personal salvation.

    5) Offertory: “O holy night.” A most peculiar choice for noontime two days before Christmas, but at least it deals with the Incarnation, unlike any other part of the service except the sermon.

    6) A fair sample of the Communion Music:
    [blockquote]”Who am I that the Lord of all the earth would care to know my name, would care to feel my hurt. Who am I, that the bright and morning star would choose to light the way for my ever wandering heart? Not because of who I am, but because of what You’ve done. Not because of what I’ve done, but because of who you are.”[/blockquote]
    Are there not enough Americans in reappraiser dioceses who think the universe revolves around them without having reasserters echo the message? Again, as throughout the service, Jesus did essentially nothing except to die, and he did that to save individuals, not the Church or the cosmos.

    7) Closing Song: “Angels we have heard on high.” Again, a Christmas song about the shepherds, not anything related to Advent, the particular lections, or even to baptism.

    A constant diet of this music, Sunday in and Sunday out, is going to convince any congregation that Christianity is an individualistic faith in which the Atonement is all-important, the Incarnation much less so, and the Resurrection and Coming Again not even worthy of notice. It will persuade them that the Apostolic Faith is essentially a private relationship between individuals and their personal Savior. It will cause them to completely disregard any notion that the Church outside their personal sphere has any relevance to them. It will lead to a theology of worship in which glorifying God takes second place to creating a favorable psychological state in the worshippers.

    It is quintessentially American individualism nearly as far from historic Anglican theology as anything you might encounter in a reappraiser parish. Praying shapes believing, and the behavior based on those beliefs. It is not surprising that this is now an “Anglican” parish without a diocese.

  36. wvparson says:

    In my experience “contemporary” music often boils down to some aging types plucking away at 60s songs which, to most teens are as date as Merbecke and not nearly as “mysterious.”

    We started to throw away our tradition of music and ceremonial just at the time when young people were looking for mystery and something apart and different from their daily lives.

    When I reintroduced Rite 1 in Lent in a previous parish it was the youngsters who really loved it an the aged hippies who didn’t.

  37. ocamp says:

    Thank you for explaining this in more detail. I understand better now your meaning of connecting with the saints of the Church. And if we are connected to the saints in heaven – then to God himself.

  38. Sam Keyes says:

    Interesting discussion, folks. I don’t know much about Sydney (though the quoted comments from Jensen make my catholic nerves stand on end… “gaudy baubles of sacramentalism”? excuse me?), but I know the beautiful music of the Tallis Scholars.

    I appreciate all of Dale Rye’s comments. This is not about musical “taste” so much as it is about being faithful to what we have been given, and not presuming that we know better than the living Tradition. That sort of need to make things up as you go along is precisely what has me and so many in my generation exhausted by the church. (And the unfortunate assumption that the various “praise” modes are attractive to “young” people is a “vain thing, fondly invented” by those in the previous generation.) Regarding #34’s suggestion that the motive may be to reach those around the cathedral, I have no reason to doubt the sincerity of its leaders — this may indeed be the motive. But so often this sort of adaptation presumes (rather condescendingly) that we know what people want — and that we are somehow obligated to give them what they want, rather than simply passing on what has been handed down to us. In my experience the ancient liturgy of the Church is precisely what many people want and need. I sing compline — with anthems and Marian antiphons in Latin, even — in a dark church filled with incense every Sunday evening, completely devoid of the shallow “Hello! Good morning!” sort of nonsense, and the church is usually packed with local college students.

    #20 says, “There’s nothing inherently more Christian about English music as compared to African or modern settings, if the faith is the content.” That’s basically right, but we do need to consider that much of the musical deposit of the Church was written for the Church. Gregorian chant, as a genre was developed for the purpose of divine worship; the generic style underlying most modern worship music was (often forcefully) not.

  39. ocamp says:

    In reference to #35 – thanks for the details!

    Dale Rye makes a good point. This service sounds very un-Advent in character. And although I really enjoy much of the recent praise songs, several quoted songs are not my favorites, or even ones we sing in our corporate worship. That set of songs seemed an uncomfortable match to me as well. Every priest has had a bad service and perhaps the blending of the older and newer music still has many rough edges in this example.

    May I propose three things:
    One, at some time, every song was a new song. We didn’t go from Gregorian chant to Hillsongs music group. There are generations of songs we have forgotten and songs that people didn’t like. I believe Isaac Watts started writing his hymns specifically to “update” the worship services of his time.
    Two, if singing correct theological and ancient songs is so formative to good theology, then why is TEC in the place it is today? What songs was Bp. Pike singing as he grew up? What have reappraising churches been singing the past decade as they force their agenda on the Anglican Communion?
    Third and lastly, Dale Rye seemed unhappy with the “individual” nature of recent songs and their limited focus on the “cross and personal sins.” As I glanced through the advent hymns I found many of those exact themes (below are excerpts from several hymns) before me. So, these hymns have the same theology, but yet the message has been buried somehow. Why not blend into the service new music if it could help bring the message alive?



    Thou, the Father’s only Son,
    hast over sin the victory won.
    boundless shall thy kingdom be;
    when shall we its glories see?

    Brightly doth thy manger shine,
    glorious is its light divine.
    Let not sin overcloud this light;
    ever be our faith thus bright.

    From the Father forth he came
    and returneth to the same,
    captive leading death and hell
    high the song of triumph swell!

    Once he came in blessing,
    all our ills redressing;
    came in likeness lowly,
    Son of God most holy;
    bore the cross to save us,
    hope and freedom gave us.

    Still he comes within us,
    still his voice would win us
    from the sins that hurt us;
    would to truth convert us
    from our foolish errors
    ere he comes in terrors. . . .

    Come, thou long-expected Jesus,
    born to set thy people free;
    from our fears and sins release us,
    let us find our rest in thee.


    Then cleansed be every breast from sin;
    make straight the way for God within,
    prepare we in our hearts a home
    where such a mighty Guest may come. [/blockquote]

  40. Dale Rye says:

    Re #39: I really don’t want to pick on this single church. It is only one case of what can happen when a congregation is liturgically exposed for years to a doctrinal balance that is significantly different from traditional Anglicanism. However, it is a real-world example rather than a made-up one. I suspect that a similar process is underway at many other churches. Hymn selection (as a part of the general abandonment of the daily offices as central to Anglican worship) is therefore a factor in our current unhappy divisions.

    Any well-rounded approach to Christian theology or worship would clearly include references to the Cross and personal salvation, as one of the most important, if not THE most important, themes. It is appropriate that many of a congregation’s repertory of hymns should include those that focus on those themes… and some should focus exclusively on that.

    The problem here (and it wasn’t just the one service, but a habit going back at least twenty years) was that the congregation has hardly been exposed to anything else. Advent and its important themes of preparation and expectation of God’s coming simply disappeared. I suspect Epiphany got the same treatment. Even at Christmastide, the Cross is front and center. As I said, a few years ago I witnessed a sermon on the Penal Substitutionary theory of the Atonement that lasted for 30 minutes at the Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion.

    On other occasions, I heard sermons defending “orthodoxy” against the “heresy” of TEC that included textbook errors in Christology and Trinitarian theology. For this congregation, those have become secondary doctrines, so it is hardly surprising that the clergy don’t pay much attention to them, either. How many of us have heard clergy who didn’t have the guts to stay on point when preaching on Trinity Sunday, because they thought the doctrine was too technical or controversial for their congregation? Drop out all the traditional Trinitarian hymns and it only gets worse.

    The church calendar and lectionary are supposed to provide balance (and have done for 1000 years or so) in the liturgical churches. I was visiting one fall in a Year B (Gospel of Mark) when the Rector preached a series of sermons on Luke and hand-picked all the lessons to illustrate the sermons, rather than the other way around. Most clergy these days would simply have ignored the appointed lessons, rather than changing them, but the effect is the same—reasserter churches where only the message of individual religion is taught and reappraiser churches where only the message of peace and equality is taught.

    I forgot to mention that on this particular Sunday (and at most services I have attended there lately) there was no hymnody referring to the Church or sacraments… not even among the Communion music. Communion is illustrated exclusively by emotional music about God’s calling of individuals into a personal relationship. For these former Episcopalians, “receiving Jesus” refers solely to a conscious conversion experience, not something that happens week by week at the Lord’s Table. It is hardly surprising that they cannot imagine the Church as the corporate Body of Christ, rather than as a voluntary association of individually saved men and women.

    Perhaps if we prayed together, using the Daily Offices or some other common form, we could stay together.

  41. BCP28 says:

    A few comments on the actual liturgical music schedule (thanks for posting!):

    1. I note that, in few places, an entire choral service is used.
    2. No Sunday evensong? In a Cathedral? You’re kidding!

    I wonder how much of a change this represents. Resources differ vastly through the Communion. My parish maintains a Men and Boy’s (and now a separate Girls’ choir) with daily rehearsals, but they in no way match the quality you will find in NYC or London, for a variety of reasons relating to talent pools and rehearsal time.

    Having said that, these decisions can be characteristic of clergy who are targeting the choir program and intend to destroy it incrementally. My own experience is that a “mix and match” approach to choral Eucharist or Morning Prayer (congregational setting in one place, choral in the other) can be very frustrating liturgically.


  42. BCP28 says:

    For example:

    Gloria in excelsis: Darke in F
    Lord have mercy: Darke on F
    Lord Jesus Christ, strong Son of God: Parry, arr. McCarthy
    Anthems: Miserere (Ps. 51): Allegri

    What about the Sanctus and Benedictus? And this is one of the better Sundays!

  43. ocamp says:

    #40 Thank you Dale Rye for your thoughtful reply.

    I apologize my response has been so slow and short. As I understand your point of view – churches that use new music are also churches that are most likely to cease certain liturgies. Also, they tend to focus their theology one the cross, and have limited or satisfactory theology about the breadth of our faith (i.e. incarnation, trinity, communion)

    In these points you may be correct. I cannot defend every church or even the movement because every week I am constrained to be in my church by employment. But my gut tells me that these are weaknesses our evangelical brothers and sisters take on in their passion to reach new people.

    Two ideas I don’t think you have addressed are:
    1) If our liturgy and hymnody have worked for 20 generations, why have they failed us recently? How did TEC get so confused? How could so many priests and bishops grow up reciting the creed and denying it today? If you tell me they all abandoned the hymnal, then I would like to see some evidence for this.
    2) When do we stop writing new songs? Hymns are of varying styles and generations, but is there no allowance for the music of today’s generations? “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” used to be a drinking song. The organ was for secular operas only. Why do some despise the drums and keyboards of today?

    Thanks for the discussion!

  44. ann r says:

    Why do some despise drums and keyboards?
    #1 They are too loud.
    #2 They tend to cut out congregational participation.
    #3 All musical rhythm relates to the beat of the heart. Fast dance rhythms are suitable for their primary purpose, dance. They are not suitable for folks who are bringing their troubles to the Lord. They do not aid in peaceful prayer. They belong to a certain generation and folks raised in other periods do not relate to them.
    #4 To continue, all modern popular music is generational. Young people don’t relate to music of the 60s and 70s but aging hippies do.
    Young people seem to be looking for a “spiritual experience” and seem to relate to Gregorian Chant. People who were already adults when the 60s hit generally don’t like the hippy folk style. So, modern popular music as used in churches is divisive.

  45. ocamp says:

    #44 Thanks for responding. Apparently I am the only person who sees value in blending newer and older forms of music.

    I agree that folky 70s songs don’t relate to the younger generations today. In fact, twenty-somethings are enamored with the 80s – just look at the fashion reuse of green, pink, and nike. Look at the 80s parties that bars sponsor and the return of the stubbly beard. But, I am digressing.

    I think many of these complaints are because many churhces don’t know how to work well with newer styles of music. Parishes will spend millions (or hundreds of thousands) of dollars building organs, and designing architechture for that specific instrument. But then they will maybe give $1,000 to $8,000 to install an entire sound system. And then the comparison is that the newer music is too loud, sounds bad, harsh on the ears, etc.
    #1 They need to turn down. Or better, who is the sound engineer? Does the church even have one?
    #2 The people need to sing louder. This is common struggle for organ masters and choirs too.
    #3 Not all newer music is fast. If that is your experience, listen to “Here I Am to Worship” by Tim Hughes or “In Christ Alone” by Stuart Townsend and Keith Getty. These songs are from the heart, good lyrics, and are best sung slowly and prayfully.
    #4 Thank you for agreeing with me, almost. I propose that ALL MUSIC is generational. Once the gregorian chant was new and radical. What happend to the antiphons of 1450? Once the hymns were in great conflict with chants. Once the Reformation gave us common folk tunes to communicate love for Christ. The styles changed, the point of view, the accompniment, but in the end it is all to give glory to God. Why are we stopping now? Why not allow new songs with new styles join with the ages?

    Perhaps the divisiveness is not in the music, but in our selves.

    I hope I wasn’t too harsh. I hope you will experience a good blend of worship styles one day and not be bothered by folky hippies with cheap guitars.

  46. libraryjim says:

    I don’t mind a mix of newer and older music, either, ocamp, as long as the choices are
    a) correct for the theme of the Sunday readings,
    b) are theologically correct,
    c) fit the parts of the liturgy where they are sung
    d) have words that mean something and not just one line or a chorus repeated ad nauseum.

    Jim Elliott <>< former folk mass music leader (yes, with cheap guitar -- but it had a good sound)

  47. libraryjim says:

    You know, I miss that old guitar. but when planning the music for Sunday worship, I did so with the lectionary in one hand, the hymnal in the other. I had no guidance from the priest, other than, ‘we need a leader, you are it’, and went from there. I not only used the standard Catholic hymns (I was limited to those with guitar chords, not being able to read music — but that’s a loooong story in and of itself), but the current praise music – -which in this case was Maranatha! Music’s praise series and the Catholic Contemporary music by St. Louis Jesuits; Carey Landry; Michael Joncas; etc.

    You know, in spite of my inexperience and lack of talent, I never had a single complaint. 🙂

  48. libraryjim says:

    Oh, my point (sheesh! I’m scattered today, but I doubt anyone will read this) was that I always picked songs that went with the Scripture readings for the day. If the song was nice, but didn’t fit, I saved it for another day. I also paid close attention to the parts of the Mass, and made sure the songs I picked FIT: entrance, offertory, passing of the peace, communion, etc. and I had a wide range of service pieces for the Gloria; the great Amen; the Amnesis (sp?) the Gospel intro; etc.

    I held then, and still hold that it is vitally important to match the music with the parts of the liturgy.


  49. ocamp says:

    Thanks for your kind replies – I’m sure no one is reading this post much anymore! But I agree with the need to balance accurate theology, setting, and flow of worship. I just don’t think people should dismiss new worship music just because it is new. 🙂

  50. rob k says:

    Well said, Dale in your several posts.