Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 18 April 2018

Simon Butler ViaMedia.News After IICSA: Facing Up to Clericalism

Richard Peers Quodcumque “Shall we stick by each other as long as we live?” : my life in two rituals

Gerald McDermott Patheos Why do Anglicans say they walk a Via Media?

Jonathan Arnold The Spectator The joy of evensong

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Janet FifeKateExRevdSimon ButlerIain McLean Recent comment authors
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Kate
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Kate

Nice little piece by Jonathan Arnold. Evensong is undoubtedly popular and, if I lived in Cambridge, Oxford or in a cathedral town, I would be a regular too.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

It’s hard to beat a really good choral evensong. I used to go sometimes in Oxford, where most of the colleges did evensong with good choirs. I remember one at Christchurch, where they sang the setting of David’s lament for Absalom: ‘Oh Absalom, my son, my son Absalom. Would that I had died instead of thee, Absalom my son.’ We were in tears. It’s the only time I’ve ever heard it. Does anyone know the composer?

Victoriana
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Victoriana

@Janet Fife, there’s two settings, one by Thomas Weelkes and the other by Thomas Tomkins. Tomkins was a royalist in the 1640s, which gives his version a particular freight.

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

The piece by Gerald McDermott is generally good, but it contains the curious remark that Anglican “orthodoxy” has moved to the Global South. This word (orthodoxy) is a popular buzzword in those circles; it is is really about the stance on same-sex issues. This otherwise reasonably balance article is written from the perspective of of ACNA and the Global South, who want to promote their version of “orthodoxy” and themselves as the purveyors of “real” Anglicanism.

rjb
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rjb

@Janet Fife There are many English settings of those verses, but perhaps the best and most famous is Thomas Tomkins’ anthem from the early seventeenth century. It’s usually known by its opening words “When David Heard.”

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

Janet, I hope it was the version by Thomas Tomkins, one of the masterpieces of the English renaissance. My parish choir has sung it a couple of times for evensongs in Lent. It always brings tears to my eyes.

Father David
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Father David

Or, more recent settings by Joshua Shank and Eric Whitacre perhaps?

Stanley Monkhouse
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“When David heard …” Those words are still on my heart 2.5 years after the death of my adult son. I too prefer Tomkins to Weelkes. I was formed in large part by cathedral music, but now I find it hard even to set foot in such places. The relentless smiley “relevance” information boards, the sometimes aggressive and snooty guides, the feeling that it’s all about personalities of D and C and others, as evinced by the wearing of degree hoods by adult singers (banned, rightly so, at Carlisle in the 1960s/70s). Worst of all, the paucity of local accents… Read more »

David Emmott
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David Emmott

Re Stanley Monkhouse and the accents thing. If what he means is not so much ‘the paucity of local accents’ but the preponderance of RP ones in cathedrals, I sympathise. God forbid that our cathedrals should be ‘local churches for local people’: it’s good if the clergy and others represent different cultures and accents. But it is even worse if they are middle-class fortresses.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Thank you to the knowledgeable people who supplied title and composers for ‘When David Heard’. I have listened to both of them on YOUTube and am pretty sure it was the Weelkes. They are both beautiful and very moving.

Reminds me of Ben Jonson’s poem on the death of his 7-year-old son: ‘O, could I lose all father now…’

Churches that only do positive hymns, music & readings miss so much of the richness of our tradition – and an opportunity. to minister meaningful to people for whom life is not all rosy. Sometimes lament really hits the spot.

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

As a chorister and occasional conductor, I can only add that Tomkins’ setting is so powerful that it is almost impossible to perform. If you start thinking about the words you will be unable to sing them.

Whitacre actually quotes Tomkins’ great cry ‘oh my son’ in rising thirds in his setting.

ExRevd
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ExRevd

The Reverend Canon Simon Butler, Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury is advising us “facing up to clericalism.” Where can I buy a new irony detector, as mine is now irreparably damaged?

Russell Dewhurst
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Russell Dewhurst

McDermott says “Late medieval Catholicism distorted all these things. It taught semi-Pelagianism, the idea that our unaided works cooperate with Christ’s works to save us.” It is definitely not true that “late medieval Catholicism” taught semi-Pelagianism. I’m not even aware of significant figures who did?

Kate
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Kate

I am trying to find the piece on Google Music. Are we talking about When David Heard?

Father David
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Father David

It’s a great sadness and loss that so many churches have abandoned Prayer Book Evensong. I’d guess that the vast majority of C of E churches now have no Sunday evening BCP worship on offer.

Iain McLean
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Iain McLean

Kate: yes. When David Heard by Thomas Tomkins or Thomas Weelkes.

There may be bootleg copies of When David Heard by Eric Whitacre, which is in copyright.

Simon Butler
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Simon Butler

ExRev: I’m not quite sure why you find it difficult to accept my remarks about clericalism. The use of my title and post in the article is a choice of the editor of Via Media – a lay woman – and nothing to do with me. Perhaps you might temper your cynicism and accept that people are sincere in what they say.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Kate, here’s a link to the Weelkes. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tRA52VS8a-Q

ExRevd
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ExRevd

Simon: sincere apologies that my cynicism (with which I wrestle constantly) has hurt you. My attempt at wit was rather crass. The structures of the church are part of its own problem (and I used to be part of the problem myself – a lot of what you wrote hit home). Yet they have to be part of the solution too, and your essay shows how that is held in tension. I wonder what the answer is. Beyond my cynicism, I really don’t know, and I feel sad too to be far reminded from dedicated and patient attempts to walk… Read more »

Kate
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Kate

“The use of my title and post in the article is a choice of the editor of Via Media – a lay woman – and nothing to do with me. Perhaps you might temper your cynicism and accept that people are sincere in what they say.”

Simon, thank you for clarifying that as I found your piece refreshing but, like ExRevd, felt the use of the “Reverend Canon” in the byline undermined everything. I suggest you take up the issue with the ViaMedia editor. I am pleased to hear that you genuinely meant what you wrote.

Janet Fife
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Janet Fife

Simon, my sympathies. I didn’t use my title in a recent letter to the Church Times, but they put it in anyway. Clericalism won’t be easy to beat.