Category : Liturgy, Music, Worship

James Jordan–“..We should sing the Bible in worship. When I found out that the Church used to do it, and then stopped, I was amazed. “

I was speaking with a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church a while back, and he told me a revealing incident that happened during his ordination examination. An older clergyman asked him if the psalter were an important part of prayer, and thus of counseling and worship. When my friend replied in the affirmative, the older clergyman asked him to give the theme and gist of every psalm, starting with the first and ending with the 150th. My friend, who had spent some years in Episcopalianism and thus knew some of the psalms, struggled for a while, but finally had to give up. The older clergyman opposed his ordination, maintaining that my friend should master the psalter before presuming to lead God’s people.

Amazing? Surprising? I think not. In fact, I think that the older gentleman’s position is absolutely correct. I think this is a great ordination question – though I confess that I would fail it. After all, I’ve spent twenty years in hard-core, Bible-believing, tough-as-nails, Reformed, evangelical Presbyterian churches, so I barely know the psalter. I only know what I’ve studied on my own.

Here’s a question for you: Given that our theological seminaries have chapel services daily, or at least several times a week, how many of them teach the students to sing all 150 psalms during chapel? How would you like to have a pastor who went to seminary where the psalms were taken seriously? A pastor who was taught to sing the psalms, and who was familiar with all of them?

Read it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education, Theology: Scripture

The Canticle of the Sun for Saint Francis of Assisi’s Feast Day

Most high, all powerful, all good Lord!
All praise is Yours, all glory, all honor, and all blessing.

To You, alone, Most High, do they belong.
No mortal lips are worthy to pronounce Your name.

Be praised, my Lord, through all Your creatures,
especially through my lord Brother Sun,
who brings the day; and You give light through him.
And he is beautiful and radiant in all his splendor!
Of You, Most High, he bears the likeness.

Be praised, my Lord, through Sister Moon and the stars;
in the heavens You have made them bright, precious and beautiful.

Posted in Church History, Liturgy, Music, Worship

(The Star) New Sheffield Cathedral bell chimes with a need to train more ringers

Sheffield Cathedral is ringing the changes as it prepares to install the church’s first new bell in more than 45 years. The £20,500 instrument, paid for following a three-year fundraising appeal, will add to the cathedral’s existing set of 13 bells and will help ringers to train more beginners. It will be lifted into place next month, after being blessed on October 1 in a special service by the Bishop of Sheffield, the Rt Rev Pete Wilcox. The bell will be hoisted up into its chamber from the floor of the cathedral through specially-designed trap doors. The Rev Keith Farrow, canon missioner, said that although the cathedral has a ‘fine set of bells’, they were quite heavy and ringers needed ‘considerable training’. The church’s largest bell, the tenor, weighs almost two tons – the new addition is just six hundredweight, a little over 300kg.

Read it all.

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

(Telegraph) Priests-in-training to be given glossaries because they struggle to understand the Book of Common Prayer

Priests-in-training are to be given glossaries to help them understand the Book of Common Prayer for the first time because they struggle to decipher the language.

The Prayer Book Society, which gives out free copies of the 17th century book to first-year students in theological colleges, will this year also include a key to some of its more old-fashioned words and phrases.

The list includes definitions for words such as “eschew” meaning abstain from, “concord”, for an agreement between people, and “froward”, meaning perverse or contrary.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Church of England (CoE), Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Seminary / Theological Education

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Harry Burleigh

God, our strong deliverer: We bless thy Name for the grace given to Harry Thacker Burleigh, who didst lift up in song the struggles of thy people. Let that Spirit of love which spurred him draw us and thy whole Church to raise our distinct voices into one great harmony of praise; through the same Jesus Christ, who with thee and the Holy Spirit liveth and reigneth, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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

(Northern Echo) York Minster finally replaces its sacked bellringers after ten months

The bells of York Minster will be ringing regularly again – after a new band of volunteer bellringers were recruited almost ten months after the previous band was controversially axed.

The cathedral axed its entire team of 30 volunteer ringers last autumn over safeguarding concerns.

More than 17,000 people signed a petition calling for them to be reinstated but the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, backed the decision by the Dean of York, the Very Reverend Vivienne Faull, and chapter.

Read it all.

Posted in Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England (CoE), Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(NPR) In Germany, Churchgoers Are Encouraged To Tweet From The Pews

In Germany this year, the Protestant church is celebrating 500 years since Martin Luther brought about the Reformation. Today, as the number of churchgoers dwindles, the clergy is turning to new media to appeal to those with little time to attend worship in person.

In the eastern city of Magdeburg, the monotone peal of a single church bell calls a modest flock of parishioners to evening prayers at the Walloon Reformed Church of St. Augustine.

As the faithful file into a High Gothic church where Martin Luther once delivered a sermon, most fumble around in handbags and pockets, looking for their cellphones.

But instead of dutifully switching off their phones and putting them away on this Friday evening, these 40 or so churchgoers take a pew and bow their heads over their lit-up devices as if they were prayer books.

Read it all.

Posted in --Social Networking, Blogging & the Internet, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(Christian Today) Thousands of people are turning out to hear free choral music around Britain

The ancient church music has been around for centuries – but is getting a new audience due to a new website set up to enable people to find choral evensong services at cathedrals, colleges and churches anywhere in Britain and Ireland.

The website is now receiving about 8,500 unique visitors a month, and 11,500 visits a month, and that number is rising. There are now 481 churches, chapels and cathedrals with their own pages on the website, and the number keeps growing.

And the effect on congregations is staggering.

One poorly-attended church in London found attendance shot up from 10 people to nearly 200 at one evensong alone.Read it all.

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

A Prayer for the Feast Day of John Mason Neale

Grant unto us, O God, that in all time of our testing we may know thy presence and obey thy will; that, following the example of thy servant John Mason Neale, we may with integrity and courage accomplish what thou givest us to do, and endure what thou givest us to bear; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever.

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

David Frost–The Influence of the 1662 Book of Common Prayer on the Orthodox: Opening a Can of Worms?

You will recognize it, though my quotation is in fact from an internet version of that Orthodox ‘Western Rite’, The Liturgy of Saint Tikhon. The passage appears in THE COMMUNION DEVOTIONS as a congregational response to the priest’s invitation to ‘draw near with faith, and take this Holy Sacrament to your comfort; and make your humble confession to Almighty God, devoutly kneeling.’

R. Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, maker of all things, judge of all men; we acknowledge and bewail our manifold sins and wickedness, which wefrom time to time, most grievously have committed, By thought, word, and deed,against thy Divine Majesty, Provoking most justly thy wrath and indignation against us. We do earnestly repent, and are heartily sorry for these our misdoings; the remembrance of them is grievous unto us; the burden of them is intolerable. Have mercy upon us, have mercy upon us, most merciful Father; For thy Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s sake, forgive us all that is past; and grant that we may ever hereafter serve and please thee in newness of life, To the honour and glory of thy Name; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

A side of me still thrills to that. Brought up in a guilt-culture, I still want to binge on selfabasement,followed by the ‘high’ of unmerited, almost magical release. But long before Ibecame Orthodox, I began to have doubts, especially in an Anglican parish thatencouraged frequent communion. How could the sacrifice of Christ be failing to createthat serving and pleasing of God in ‘newness of life’ for which I pleaded each Sunday?Why did I have to come back week after week, making the same old complaints of badmemories and intolerable burdens? When would I, ‘reflecting as in a mirror the glory ofthe Lord’, be ‘transformed’ (as St Paul said happened to all Christians) ‘into the same image from glory to glory’ (2 Corinthians 3: 18 in the Revised Version)?

Returning to my difficulties in reciting the ‘Jesus Prayer’, I realized that phrases in it –‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner’ – had unconsciously triggeredthat image of the wrathful monarch and his princeling son, whose royal dignity andhonour I had offended since childhood, ‘provoking most justly’ their ‘wrath andindignation against me’. Immediately, as from behind a cloud, the Lordship of Christ revealed itself simply as leadership: of the leader I loved and whose commands I sought to obey because I loved him. Any plea for his ‘mercy’ became an asking for the immeasurable benefits of his grace and for his sympathetic understanding of my shortcomings, together with my acceptance of his generous offer of transformation and new life. And as for the last phrase about ‘me, a sinner’, that was just an obvious statement of fact. I’ve been able to use the prayer ever since.

Read it all.

Posted in --Book of Common Prayer, Anthropology, Church History, Church of England (CoE), Orthodox Church, Theology, Theology: Holy Spirit (Pneumatology), Theology: Salvation (Soteriology)

(Fulcrum) Southwark Cathedral and the House of Bishops’ Pastoral Guidance

For some the Cathedral’s approach falls far, far short of what the church should do to welcome and celebrate same-sex couples.  From this perspective, if this is all that can be offered to gay and lesbian couples within the current law then it is, in truth, unjust and insulting.  If even this is not permitted by current teaching and guidance then all talk of “welcome” and “radical Christian inclusion” is simply pious, prelatical platitudes.

For a second group this solution represents an acceptable, even admirable, Anglican via media of legitimate pastoral accommodation and compromise for the sake of unity.  It should, therefore, be commended more widely (as apparently it is to enquiring parish clergy in Southwark dioceses).  It is a good example of what the Bishop of Chelmsford set out as his vision in his March Presidential Address to Diocesan Synod, leading to widespread concerns among evangelicals in the diocese:

Let me plain: LGBTI+ people are welcome in the churches of the Chelmsford diocese. They are welcome and we want to listen to them and work with them so as to find appropriate ways of expressing their love – for it is not good for human beings to be alone – in permanent, faithful, stable relationships. At the moment there is no consensus in the Church of England for those relationships to be formally blessed in Church, or for the Church of England to embrace same-sex marriage, but the current arrangements do welcome lay people and clergy into civil partnerships and there is no reason why prayers of thanksgiving for these relationships – perhaps a Eucharist – cannot be offered.  We do not want same-sex couples to be cut off from the Church, and we want those who come to us seeking God’s blessing for their love to receive the guidance, challenge and support of the Church.

For this to happen, however, it either needs to be clearly shown that such services are (as the Cathedral claims but Davie disputes) within the bishops’ guidance or that guidance needs to be adapted to enable this form of accommodation.

For a third group, however, as the widespread concern among evangelicals in Guildford and Southwark dioceses shows, such services clearly reject the spirit and probably the letter of the church’s current teaching and guidance.

Read it all.

Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Ministry of the Laity, Ministry of the Ordained, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Theology

(AJ) Anglican church in Ontario rents space to Muslim worshippers

A Leamington, Ont., church is renting out space in its basement to local Muslims for use as a mosque.

Since this spring, Muslim worship has been held in the basement of St. John the Evangelist Anglican Church, diocese of Huron, says the church’s rector, the Rev. Andrew Wilson.

The arrangement serves the church because it provides income to fund its ministry, he says; but it also an important part of the church’s outreach to Leamington’s growing refugee population.

“To one degree, it’s as basic as a rental, but it is creating wonderful community for them—they feel safe, they feel welcome,” he says.

Read it all.

Posted in Anglican Church of Canada, Canada, Islam, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Muslim-Christian relations, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

Martin Davie–A review of material from Southwark Cathedral to mark civil partnerships

What these paragraphs tell us is:

It would not be right to produce an authorised public liturgy in relation to the registration of a Civil Partnership;
Clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who register a Civil Partnership;
Clergy need to bear in mind the teaching of the Church on sexual morality, celibacy and the value of committed friendships;
Requests for prayer should be responded to pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances of each case.
The last point clearly needs to be understood in the light of what precedes it. Requests for prayer should not be met by the use of an authorised public liturgy (since such a liturgy should not exist). They should not be met by the provision of a service of blessing (since such services are not allowed). Finally, any form of prayer needs to be in line with the Church’s teaching (hence it cannot suggest either explicitly or implicitly that the Church approves of any form of sexual relationship outside of heterosexual marriage).

In the light of all this, how should we view the material that is being sent out by Southwark Cathedral?…

Read it all.

Posted in --Civil Unions & Partnerships, Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Sexuality, Spirituality/Prayer, Theology

A Prayer for the Feast Day of Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel and Henry Purcell

Almighty God, beautiful in majesty and majestic in holiness, who dost teach us in Holy Scripture to sing thy praises and who gavest thy musicians Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel and Henry Purcell grace to show forth thy glory in their music: Be with all those who write or make music for thy people, that we on earth may glimpse thy beauty and know the inexhaustible riches of thy new creation in 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

(BBC World Service) The decline of the church organist

The lack of church organists across the UK is leading to the rise in services being accompanied by guitars and rock bands. Dan Damon looks back at how once upon a time organs were seen as the new wave in ecclesiastical music – yet not everyone was thrilled by the idea.

Watch and listen to it all.

Posted in History, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry