Thinking Anglicans


Richard Beck writes on his Experimental Theology blog about Tales of the Demonic.

The Guardian has a varied selection in its Comment is free section.
Gisela Raines An unexpectedly sacramental walk
On my pilgrimage from Seville, I found myself settling into a rhythm that nourished me long after I arrived in Santiago.
Alan Wilson The pope tweets – and not just about eggs benedict for breakfast
His holiness has beaten Rowan Williams on to Twitter. But can the infallible one learn to follow, as well as preach?
Karen Armstrong Bones, hairs and blood: relics that stretched pilgrims’ grasp of humanity
An understanding of the medieval cult of martyrs’ relics can help open our minds to the otherness of beliefs in today’s world.
Andrew Brown Sharia and the scare stories
The arguments about Islam put forward by Michael Nazir-Ali make it difficult to take him seriously

Maggi Dawn considers why women come late to ordination: vicars: old women and young men?

Giles Fraser writes in the Church Times that Light is not so fantastic in church.


  • Cynthjia Gilliatt says:

    Maggi Dawn’s essay really floored me. Why educate a woman who will only go and get married have have babies? I can’t believe this. It’s what I heard when I went to get a department head’s signiture to continue towards my PhD. This would have been in the late 60s at the University of Michigan. ‘Academic women become very bitter,’ this turkey said. ‘Why not get a job in the law library and get yourself a nice young lawyer-to-be.’ It only strengtheded my resolve. That dinasaur is long dead, and I have thought his kind were all dead and quiety becoming the fossils they acted like in life. My condolances to my sister priests in England.

  • JPM says:

    “The arguments about Islam put forward by Michael Nazir-Ali make it difficult to take him seriously”

    I guess I must have beaten the rush, because I was not taking Nazir-Ali seriously years ago.

  • “The point of all this is that I’m coming to the conclusion that one of the demonic forces in modern life is how we are increasingly interacting with each other through bureaucratic systems” – Richard Beck’s Blog on ‘demonism’ –

    Having read this blog article, I can identify with Richard Beck’s disenchantment with those beurauratic systems that can so easily interfere with justice being effectively delivered.

    I have in mind at this moment how the elevation of a ‘Covenant’ within the Anglican Communion could so easily become one of those soul-less instruments of injustice within the Church. When one considers that the Anglican Communion – up until now – has been blessed by a culture of the bonds of fellowship, rather than a lower common denominator cult of same-ness, it just seems so retrograde to want to enforce a one-size-fits-all ethos of discipline and authority.

    The freedom of the Gospel is what the world needs – not the fundamentalist moral imperatives of a closed-circuit theological system.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Re Giles Fraser’s article: there was once a group called the the 20th Century Church’s Light Music Group responsible for the abomination which is ‘Living Lord’ and that dreadful tune to ‘At the name of Jesus…’? – the first of which even made its way into the New English Hymnal and the second is one of the only hymns many adults know since it was sung at school.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Richard, Living Lord is the tune to “Lord Jesus Christ, You have come to us,..” in the NEH. “At the name of Jesus..” is to the tune of Evelyns by William Monk, and more familiar to American ears to the tune of King’s Weston by RVW. But you’re right in that Living Lord is absolutely unsingable on first sight-reading.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    I am not alone in loving them both – don’t be anglican hymn snobs – pleeease !

  • Richard Ashby says:

    Evensongjunkie. Yes indeed. Evelyns is the usual tune for ‘At the name of Jesus’ in the UK. Kings Weston is set to ‘From the eastern mountains’ in NEH which also has Evelyns as an alternative. The tune I am thinking of is called ‘Camberwell’ but there is another one which is even worse.

    According to a web site I have visited ‘Living Lord’ was inspired by Cliff Richard. Enough said!

    At yesterday’s baptism of my great Nephew we sang ‘Give me joy in my heart’ Absolutely vacuous!

  • david rowett says:

    Anyone else remember the CLMG ‘Pink Book’ – despite my best efforts I never quite got it expunged from the repertoire of my last parish. ‘Lord Jesus think on me’ never quite sounded the same when sung to a Coward-esque tune.
    ‘We like sheep’ was an unfortunate title to let loose. And the suggested tune (one of Fr Geoffrey Beaumont’s best) for ‘Ye who own the Faith of Jesus’ is a racing certainty to induce questions of ‘what was he on when he wrote that?’. I have it on good authority it was gin…

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Camberwell-can’t find that one in NEH, CP, HA&M or our Hymnal 1982. And yes, ‘Sing Hosanna’ is quite spatial in harmonic variety; and there’s that vi-IV-V verse cadence with that cheesy suspension. Ugh. And that’s harmony arranged by Gerald Knight (!) in CP.

    Laurence, I’ll stop being a hymn snob when Bread of Life and (B)Eagles Wings move me as much as Coe Fen and Hereford. I mean, there’s Kool-Aid, and then there’s Plymouth.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    ‘O Jesus I have promised’ to “Hatherop Castle” by Geoffrey Beaumont is another out of the same stable. The curious thing about them all is that in their own way they were curiously dated, as if, in an attempt to provide contemporary music styles for worship, the composers had got stuck in the 1950s Light Programme. Apart from ‘Living Lord’ hardly any of them survive, having been succeeded by the more successful ‘Worship song’ a few of which have even reached mainstream congregations

  • david rowett says:

    In all fairness to Fr Beaumont (whose remains lie somewhere in S Africa – ?Stellenbosch? – according to the memorial at Mirfield) I believe that none of the group expected, or indeed wanted their music to achieve any sort of permanence. It’s only the blithering idiots who’ve had their irony chip removed who want to fossilise this stuff as ‘contemporary’….. I recall a delightful evening with friends a few years ago when a well-lubricated evening was rounded off by us singing our way through ALL the CLMG books we could muster…..

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    We sang ‘Give me joy in my heart’ at my mother’s funeral recently.

    I have seen but will never get used to, all kinds of snobbery in the Church of England, and the denigration of the worship of others, in tones of supercilious superiority is but one form it takes.

    No one the public are queuing to gain entrance and share an aural feast of high art.

  • John Roch says:

    Without wanting to stay off-topic too long –

    Some time ago (last year?) we used some reasonable modern words in 7775, and I decided that the tune with the best fit for their mood was Cheslyn Jones’s Chichester.

    My programme note that Sunday included the following


    Cheslyn Jones was one of the members of the Twentieth Century Church Light Music Group, along with others including Patrick Appleford and Geoffrey Beaumont, and his tune Chichester appeared in 1960 as one of “Thirty 20th Century Hymn Tunes” for the hymn “Three in One and One in Three”.

    There is an important sentence in the preface to the collection:
    “They are offered in the belief that not only the great and lasting music of the past but also the ordinary and transient music of today – which is the background to the lives of so many – has a rightful place in our worship.”

    Forty years on, we can see much of this collection as period pieces, reflecting not the music of their own day, but that of 20 or 30 years earlier. But they can still be a ‘good sing’. It’s now difficult to see what all the fuss was about! Most of the tunes were immediately ignored or quickly fell into disuse, although one or two — such as Appleford’s Living Lord and Beaumont’s Hatherop Castle (O Jesus I have promised) — are still favourites.


    They are mostly “tea-dance” stuff, and need to be played absolutely straight and in time — DO get the triplets right in “Living Lord”


  • evensongjunkie says:

    Now, now…Wolvercote’s not bad at all! As for the lyrics….kinda reminds of what mixed into my Fourth of July baked beans….at little syrup! What was that strange word you used the other day? “Naff”?

  • JCF says:

    Hearing Hymnody Wars arise again, remind one of the old saw, “Q: What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? A: You can negotiate w/ a terrorist!”

    People like what they like, and hate what they hate, and can’t fathom anyone who has it “backwards”: was it ever thus! :-p

  • lister Tonge says:

    The 20th CLMG never claimed to be the 21st CLMG.

  • Old Father William says:

    I have been rector of my parish for over 20 years, and we have never sung “I am the Bread of Life” once. A member of my choir embroidered a barbecue apron for me with the words “Hymn Nazi” on it. I suppose that makes me a “hymn snob.”

  • RPNewark says:

    ‘”remind one of the old saw, “Q: What’s the difference between a liturgist and a terrorist? A: You can negotiate w/ a terrorist!”‘

    Ah, and here I thought it was, “Q: What’s the difference between an organist and a terrorist? A: You can negotiate with a terrorist!” 🙂

  • Pat O'Neill says:

    IMO, the problem with much Anglican/Episcopalian music is not that it is unsingable (though a great deal is), but that it is so unrelentingly dirge-like. I don’t know if this is the fault of the composers or of choir directors/organists, but when even the “Ode to Joy” sounds like it was intended to be sung at a funeral, something is wrong.

    Let me put it this way: I would rather hear the version of “Day by Day” from Godspell than the one in TEC’s hymnal.

  • Laurence Roberts says:

    ‘Your’ choir ?

    I don’t think so…

    ‘I have been rector of my parish for over 20 years, and we have never sung “I am the Bread of Life” once. A member of my choir embroidered a barbecue apron for me with the words “Hymn Nazi” on it. I suppose that makes me a “hymn snob.” ‘
    (Old Father Wm)

    I really would nt like to say !

    Glad they (still) have a sense of humour. 🙂

    Posted by: Old Father William on Tuesday, 5 July 2011 at 3:

  • evensongjunkie says:

    More than one organist I’ve known was hired only on the basis of their hymn accompaniment. And sadly in most parishes, especially in small towns where the talent pool is tiny or non-existent, the way underpaid person that is hired is the one who can barely manage a keyboard. Part of the problem is that we’re well into the generation that is only into music as a consumer; making it, let alone composing it is almost an unknown art. How many of us have our kids take piano lessons anymore?

    Pat, if you were to have heard George Guest play the last hymn of evensong at St. John’s/Cambridge, I think your feelings about hymn playing would be vastly different. I guess it comes down to the passion and spirit put into it, not to mention the development and nourishing of the acquired skills to make it. And I think that needs to change.

  • david rowett says:

    “well into the generation that is only into music as a consumer; making it, let alone composing it is almost an unknown art.”

    Newly-ordained priest here presided at her first mass yesterday evening, using a mass setting composed by her husband, plus an offertory voluntary he bluffed around the theme of the ‘Himno a Santiago Apostol’. His son is a high-quality organist, too, and is in post in a decent parish elsewhere. But we’re very lucky – and uncomfortably aware that one runaway bus could collapse it all. It’s all a bit fragile….

  • MarkBrunson says:

    Funny – we can hang together through thick and thin, except when something happens we don’t like. I’ve never seen anyone here get as upset at being told that a *person* they like is hated by another as they do at being told a *hymn* they like is hated by another.

    I hate “Bread of Life” and “In the Garden” – I mean *really* haaaate them. I’m in a choir and sing them because I love the people in my parish who love them.

    Perspective, people.

  • A J Barford says:

    For what it’s worth, I have a particular loathing of ‘Shine Jesus shine!’

  • evensongjunkie says:

    “In the Garden”? “Andy walks with me Andy talks to me, Andy talks to himself…..”

    Sorry, couldn’t resist….

  • evensongjunkie says:

    “Shine Jesus, Shine”. “Would you like the ultra-buff for those nasty scuff marks and some sole paint around the heels sir? That’ll be five dollars!”

  • evensongjunkie says:

    “No one the public are queuing to gain entrance and share an aural feast of high art.”

    Uh Laurence, have you been to the Three Choirs Festival or the Southern Three Choirs Festival lately?

    I will never make fun of what truly deeply touches a person’s heart, and am sorry if what this thread has skewed around here has hurt. But are truly some ‘songs’ out there that have bad theology (of which I’m no scholar of) not to mention really bad music (of which I am a scholar of). I guess it ultimately comes down to what we’ve been raised with and seen how it touches others…

    A. J.-I’ve never heard of Shine, Jesus, Shine, but then again, I wasn’t raised with “In the Garden”, but the later seems popular in evangelical denominations, as I hear it sung in rest homes regularly. It seems quite popular in some faiths.

  • MarkBrunson says:

    I’m not familiar with “Shine, Jesus, Shine” either.

    One thing I’m very uncomfortable with, and find extremely distasteful, is those anthems we feel the need to do every now and then, euphemistically referred to as “classic spirituals.”

    I have real issues – especially as a white Southern male – with singing songs that sound like set pieces from “Showboat” and use phrases like “de Lord oh He a-comin’!” I find it cringeworthy and disrespectful – not to God, but to the many black families in our parish. If somebody sang an anthem that was to a disco-beat and required a lot of limp-wristed gestures and lisping and phrases like “God’s ssso faaaaaaabuloussssss!” *I* would be insulted and disgusted.

    Perhaps, I’m more sensitive to it, but I just . . . ewwwww.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Absolutely agree Mark, it’s patronizing, condescending and just plain silly.

  • Erika Baker says:

    What’s patronising, condescending and silly is this conversation.

    Thank you, Laurence, for your clear speaking on Monday, 4 July 2011 at 5:45pm BST on this thread.

  • MarkBrunson says:

    I don’t think you’ve read what you think you read, Erika, and both you and Laurence have responded just as hurtfully as those you attack. Neither Evensongjunkie nor I have tried to put down those people who like that sort of music, we have simply stated we dislike it – I specifically used the term “hate” advisedly for two hymns – and that that was our *opinion*. I said, specifically, that the people who loved them were more important to me than my aesthetics. Evensongjunkie has expressed regret over the hurt caused here and given clear reasons for his dislike. However, I would point out that there is a vast difference between an attack on a song and an attack on the person attacking the song. If that is considered a perfectly valid response to an expression of aesthetic distaste, we’d be better off throwing away all our hymnals and never singing another note.

  • Erika Baker says:

    It’s not what was said but how it was said. If you read that whole thread as one conversation, it is nothing but full of contempt for the kind of music some people really like with the implication that these people are poorly educated and shallow and just not on the same sophisticated level as others.
    And on a thread where someone tells you that he chose a particular hymn for his mother’s funeral I would have expected a little more sensitivity.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    “What I want from art is a recogni­tion of the complexity of the human condition. I want pain to find an ex­pression and transforma­tion; I sup­pose I want some intima­tion of death and resurrection. But with light music, the melody is all. It does not so much speak to the human condition as try to offer us a brief holiday away from it. “

    Yes, I admit to being insensitive and probably more academically eliminative than my fat bottom’s worth, but I will never apologize for defending cathedral repertoire in Anglican worship.

    Go read Giles Fraser’s article again.

    Again, I apologize to you, Laurence for “implying” that your choice of a hymn for your mother’s funeral was in any way inappropriate, in poor taste or silly. It would be like kicking a person when they’re down, which was certainly not my intention or “implications”.

    I am quite aware of your pain, as is mine when people dismiss something that I’ve worked hard at (daily) practicing my skills at and made financial sacrifices to preserve, not to mention being very deeply dear to my heart is dismissed by some who have said privately to my face as mere “high cathedral drama”.

  • Richard Ashby says:

    In this week’s Church Times there is a selection of interviews with some priests entitled ‘ What I wish I had learned earlier’. Amongst the most embarrassing moments is ‘forgetting the lyrics to Sing Hosanna and allowing “Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning” at a cremation.

    I wouldn’t recommend ‘Fight the good fight’ or ‘Dear Lord and Father of mankind’ for a wedding either.

    I am not aware that anyone on this blog has said anything about the people who sing these things. I wouldn’t go to a happy clappy family church but if others want to that’s fine with me. Just don’t acues me of being elitist or a snob because I choose to worship in a particular way.

    And while we are on the subject, there is no sign of Festival events such as Eddington or Twekesbury suffering from lack of interest and the cathedrals are gathering them in. Perhaps because the music in many places is simplistic, repetitative and just plain bad and many people are looking for something more complex, thoughtful and holy.

  • John Roch says:

    Ignore the sniggering about the first line, and “Fight the good fight” would be one of the best hymns for a wedding. Some years ago, a couple discussed this carefully, and decided that it should be the first hymn at their wedding. Come the day, the (visiting) priest made them change it.


    Of course, the third verse of “Fill thou my life” (as in Enlarged Songs of Praise, which used to be used in many schools) has been unusable for many years

    “Praise in the common words I speak . . . .”

    This is a family publication, so complete it yourself. 🙂

    My standard programme note about “Dear Lord and Father” makes oblique reference to what is behind the preceding verses of “The Brewing of Soma”. Again, on the grounds that a Sunday morning service paper is a family publication.

  • A J Barford says:

    “Fight the good fight…the (visiting) priest” – John Roch

    Perahps it was the line “Run the straight race” he was objecting to?

  • John Roch says:

    Not back then

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