Category : Liturgy, Music, Worship

Friday Evening Worship: Andrew Peterson – Is He Worthy?

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Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship

(Christian History) Luther: The Musician

Lutheran chorales were intended to be sung monophonically (in unison) by the congregation. They were also set for publication typically in four parts—soprano, alto, tenor, bass—with the melody in the tenor voice in some (more effective with trained choirs) and the soprano voice in others (more practical for congregational singing).

In any case, Luther’s passion that people understand also drove his liturgical music, so the congregation could take an active part in the service:

I would that we had plenty of German songs which the people could sing during Mass, in the place of, or as well as, the Gradual, or together with the Sanctus and Agnus Dei. But we lack German poets, or else we do not yet know of them, who could make for us devout and spiritual songs, as Paul calls them [Eph. 5:15].

In 1524, Luther produced the Deutsche Messe as an alternative to the Catholic Mass, based upon Gregorian liturgy and music, simplified with German options. Each church could design their liturgy with as much German or Latin as they wished, freely interchangeable.

This is but a brief survey of the ways Luther shaped not only Lutheran but also Protestant hymnody, not just in Germany but, in some ways, worldwide. We rightly honor Luther for his keen theological insights, but we do well to remember this other significant legacy, which reminds us that indeed, “Next to the Word of God, music deserves the highest praise.”

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

(ENS) TEC Liturgy and Music committee recommends against revising the Hymnal 1982

While the prospect of revising the Book of Common Prayer looms large over the upcoming General Convention, the Standing Committee on Liturgy and Music has also considered a number of other parts of the Episcopal Church’s worship life.

The SCLM’s entire report is posted here. Episcopal News Service has written about the committee’s invitation to the church to consider how to revise the prayer book, and it has written about the committee’s proposed remedy to what it calls a “situation of great confusion” over the church’s calendar of saints.

Below is a summary of the rest the SCLM’s work and recommendations.

“I am exceedingly proud of the SCLM’s work this past triennium. Because the projects we received were mostly unfunded, the SCLM chose the scope of our work very carefully,” the Rev. Devon Anderson, SCLM’s chair, told Episcopal News Service. “We were determined to send complete, thoughtful and quality work back to General Convention. But more importantly, we were unified in our desire to serve as faithful stewards of the gift and tradition of our liturgy.”

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Posted in Episcopal Church (TEC), Liturgy, Music, Worship

Music for a Friday Morning–Matthew Smith’s Psalm 103

Listen and enjoy it all.

Posted in Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology: Scripture

(Church Times) Angela Tilby–Funerals should not deny the reality of death

Death is awful and awe-ful. We know that; and yet current practice seems determined to deny both the fact and the solemnity of death. We say “We are sorry for your loss,” and talk about the deceased’s “passing”. When I conduct funerals, I feel unnerved if people say that a tribute “summed him or her up to a T”, as though my job had been to conjure the deceased’s spirit for one final grand appearance before the tea and cakes appeared.

What was remarkable about Judith’s funeral was that it was so Christian. The body was honoured; and Judith was prayed for both as a sinner and as one redeemed. There was a real parting, but it was a parting in hope, not a shadowy lingering.

I have been to a humanist funeral, and found it moving and reverent. But real Christian funerals now are rare: even Christians prefer not to call a funeral what it is.

It seems obscene, when so many die randomly in violence and war around the world, that we try so hard to domesticate the deaths of our friends and loved ones, denying both the majesty and the mercy of our final public engagement.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), Death / Burial / Funerals, England / UK, Eschatology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture

(BBC) Barrow’s St James’ Church will engage in a ‘silent’ bellringing practice in an effort to recruit new bellringers

Silent bell ringing will mean a recruitment drive for new ringers at a Cumbrian church does not disturb the neighbours.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is funding an eight-bell training simulator at St James’ the Great Church in Barrow.

It has already part-funded the rain-damaged bell tower’s £175,000 restoration in 2014.

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

(Christian Today) Could Roman Catholic weddings take place in Church of England buildings?

Catholic weddings could take place in Church of England buildings in what would be a radical change to marriage law in the UK.

A bill to be debated in the House of Lords on Friday would allow other denominations to hold their own wedding services in CofE churches, meaning Catholic marriage vows could be heard in parish buildings for the first time since the Reformation.

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Posted in * Economics, Politics, Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic

(TLC Covenant) Esau McCaulley–Seeking the Holy Spirit

I found the Holy Spirit when I was not seeking him — and in the most unlikely of places. In college I found myself attending an Episcopal chapel for two reasons. First, my car was not reliable enough to take me far from campus. Second, a woman whom I would later marry attended the 8 a.m. service.

In that music-less service I heard the liturgy, and over time it did its work. The God of the Bible shouted at me in the confession of sins. I found myself face to face with my brokenness week after week. I found myself stirred as I awaited the bread and the wine. Then, if the weekly Eucharist was the Holy Spirit coming in fits and starts, my first Holy Week was a torrent. When they stripped the altars on Maundy Thursday and we stumbled out of the church in the darkness, I was shaken. By the time we got to the solemn collects of Good Friday, I was a wreck. I felt as if for the first time I had truly entered into the passion of Christ and lingered there.

I discovered something in my first year with the church’s liturgy that has remained true since. The liturgy is stable, but it is not safe. You never know which part of the church year, which part of the liturgy, which reading, which celebration of a saint will step out of history and grab you by the heart. The Spirit broods over our work. I also found that the Daily Office helped me listen to the Spirit. So many ideas and concerns assault me as I sit down to pray. I have found that the set prayers of the Daily Office settle my spirit, so that I can finally sit quietly and listen to God. My most powerful experiences of the Spirit have come during that waiting.

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Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry

(AM) Andrew Symes–General Synod debates about liturgy open up bigger questions of truth and religious freedom

If the Church of England approves prayers to celebrate and affirm gender transition and / or same sex relationships, does it matter? Some would say it doesn’t, as long as individual parishes are not compelled to use such prayers. Some churches long ago stopped using most formal liturgies anyway, so perhaps the question is irrelevant. But others would say such prayers are very important. For the LGBT activist, specific prayers are necessary to publicly validate identity and experience in the setting of the church; “to actually name us and our reality”, as Christian Beardsley says about ‘trans’ people.

Theologian Martin Davie agrees with the LGBT activists about the importance of officially sanctioned liturgies in the C of E and how they express truth: what we all believe. In his recent essay he revisits the theme of ‘lex orandi, lex credendi’, meaning that what the church believes and what it prays must be aligned. Davie points out that unlike some other Protestant denominations, Anglicanism defines its system of belief not just on a statement (the Thirty Nine Articles), but also a series of prayers and rubrics (the BCP and the Ordinal). But of course Davie argues strongly against the adoption of the proposed new liturgies, precisely because they would imply that the church believes something different to what it has always believed. While some may claim that such prayers in church would only be a minor local expression of pastoral care for individuals, in fact LGBT activists know very well that they would be a symbol of a radical change in how the church understands itself and reality.

The Anglican formularies are derived from an accepted understanding of Christian faith based on Scripture, and prayers that we say reflect that. It’s not the case, as some have claimed, that prayers develop according to our evolving experience and understanding of God, and then we get our theology from these prayers (Davie cites the Anglican Church of Canada as having embraced this erroneous idea). Rather, Article 20 is quite clear:

‘The Church hath power to decree rites or ceremonies, and authority in controversies of faith: and yet it is not lawful for the Church to ordain anything that is contrary to God’s word written.’

In other words, Scripture comes before liturgy and controls its content. Considering the question of prayers of affirmation for same sex couples, Davie concludes that the only way this could be done with integrity is if the C of E repudiates all its existing teaching on sex and marriage in the Canons and Prayer Books, and says it no longer believes in the teaching of Scripture as historically understood.

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

(CEN) Bp Michael Nazir-Ali–A Conference that seeks to take the Church back to Its Roots

In the light of such developments, both positive and negative, some of us have felt that there is a need to bring together all those who value the Anglican theological, liturgical and ecclesial heritage to listen and to learn from one another, as well as to challenge each other, even as we seek a way forward to preserve and to enhance our common patrimony.

The impetus for doing something about this came about as we reflected on the 80th anniversary of the publication of Archbishop Michael Ramsey’s landmark book The Gospel and the Catholic Church and on the sudden passing away in 2016 of the Evangelical Anglican theologian, John Webster, the author of Word and Church in which his seminal essay The Self-Organising Power of the Gospel of Christ: Episcopacy and Community Formation is republished.

In this essay, Webster remarks that an ordered church is not just a practical arrangement, however desirable, but springs from the very nature of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

With limited resources of time and money, it has taken us more than a year to organise this conference but we have been surprised how quickly it has attracted speakers of the first rank from the whole spectrum of the Anglican world and from sympathetic Ecumenical partners.

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in Church History, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Theology

(Darton, Longman and Todd) A Liturgy for a Renaming Ceremony Suitable for use with transgender participants

Opening Statements

Friends, we come here today to mark a change of name. It is a recognition of a pre-existing truth that has been obscured, one in which we have all played our part in uncovering. Today we witness a sacred transformationin which the true purpose of PN’s (natal name) life has been revealed.

What we do here has echoes in the Bible. God called barren Abram and Sari, struggling Jacob and the murderous Saul and transformed them into Abraham and Sarah whose descendants are more numerous thanthe stars, the patriarch Israel whose name became a nation and the Apostle Paul genius missionary of the Early Church. Both true nature and God’s purpose was recognised in a change of name and recognition of thecalling the new name symbolised. Today PN joins this honoured and holy tradition.

We come to watch God’s sacred purpose fulfilled in calling PN to their true identity. From this timeon they will be called N (changed name) as a male/female/nonbinary/gender queer (use appropriate term)servant of God.

Let us pray

Loving God, there are times when we need to mark that things have changed significantly in our lives. There are times when old ways of living need to be put to aside so that new and affirming ways of living, loving and being can be taken up.Be with us as we celebrate the journey that PN has made and bless this faithful step they are making this day. Bless each one of us that are here to witness this miracle of faith and transformation and keep us in love with each other now and in the future. Amen

Read it all, it is an excerpt extract from the soon to be published book Transfaith: A transgender pastoral resource by Chris Dowd and Christina Beardsley (hat tip:FC).

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Psephizo) Ian Paul–On the C of E and welcoming transgender people

What, then, should the House of Bishops have done? I think the statement they issued says some helpful and positive things, and I particularly appreciate the focus on the primacy of identity in Christ that is effected by the baptism of believers.

The emphasis is placed not on the past or future of the candidate alone but on their faith in Jesus Christ. The Affirmation [of Baptism] therefore gives priority to the original and authentic baptism of the individual, and the sacramental change it has effected, allowing someone who has undergone a serious and lasting change to re-dedicate their life and identity to Christ. The image of God, in which we are all made, transcends gender, race, and any other characteristic, and our shared identity as followers of Jesus is the unity which makes all one in Christ (Galatians 3.27-28)


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Posted in Anthropology, Church of England (CoE), CoE Bishops, Ecclesiology, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Liturgy, Music, Worship, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Care, Pastoral Theology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, Theology

(Telegraph) Peal for England! Church bells to be protected in planning rules from noise complaints

Church bells are to win protection under new planning rules to stop people who move into towns and villages forcing councils to silence them, The Daily Telegraph can disclose.

Ministers said official planning guidance in England would be changed for new homes to show that the Government is now “standing up for churches”.

Churches have repeatedly had to comply with noise abatement orders to silence church bells after complaints from often only a handful of homeowners despite the fact that they have tolled for decades.

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

Music for Martin Luther King Day–I’m gonna ride the Chariot in the morning Lord

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

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

Posted in Christmas, Liturgy, Music, Worship