Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 1 August 2020

Stephen Stavrou All Things Lawful And Honest Watch your language

Giles Fraser UnHerd Church philistines have got high culture all wrong

Janet Fife Surviving Church Bethel Sozo Part 1: Coming to a Church near You?

Laudable Practice Why I Support The Ordination Of Women: A High Church Reflection

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John Caperon
John Caperon
1 month ago

Giles Fraser has an important point to make, obviously, but in making it he’s grossly unfair to Matthew Arnold. It’s all too easy to pin the label ‘elitist’ to this eminent Victorian, who in fact spent a dedicated professional life as an Inspector of Schools. And if schools don’t exist to convey a cultural heritage, what Arnold referred to as ‘the best that has been thought and said’, one wonders what on earth they are for. It’s far too slick, also, to offer cheap cultural caricatures such as ‘Posh people go to the opera, learn Latin, read TS Eliot and… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  John Caperon

More seriously, he’s named the wrong Arnold. The famous headmaster was Matthew’s father, Thomas Arnold.

David Exham
David Exham
1 month ago

Simon, I don’t understand you. Giles hasn’t mentioned Thomas or headmasters! It’s Matthew who wrote about High Culture as Giles says.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
1 month ago
Reply to  David Exham

You are quite right. I saw the word “educationalist” and immediately thought of Headmaster Thomas. My bad.

Shamus
Shamus
1 month ago

Thank you Stephen Stavrou. Essential reading for all senior staff, and all who work at Diocesan offices and Church House. Spot on.

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

Lennon and McCartney famously met at a church fete. Both had sung in church choirs before they embarked on their successful collaboration. They chose to sing not about Jesus but about Jude, Eleanor Rigby, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields. But their musical training owed everything to the Anglican choral tradition.   Ordinary folk who swelled the chancels of parish churches years ago may not have become pop stars, but they were taught discipline, accuracy and collaboration, skills that were readily transferrable to all manner of ordinary careers, not just musical ones. Cathedrals and university chapels have resisted the decline in… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Savi Hensman
1 month ago

Giles Fraser’s criticism seems to be at odds with the reported claim by the dean of Sheffield Cathedral that ‘The new choir will continue to perform music from the Anglican choral tradition but will broaden its repertoire’ and have a wider range of choristers, hopefully including some in the current choir. There is surely a difference between suggesting that the Western classical tradition contains much sublime church music which can be spiritually enriching and that all other forms of worship music are trite? For instance, some of us value both the music of Bach and spirituals composed by Christians whose… Read more »

Swithun
Swithun
1 month ago
Reply to  Savi Hensman

Agreed. Charting a course through all this cultural-emotional conflict has surely to begin with an understanding of what purpose cathedrals serve? To what extent are they there to serve the church, the wider community, and the purposes of God and his kingdom? Or are they there to serve the traditions that have historically clustered around them: the Anglican choral tradition, the classical organ repertoire, stone carving, stained glass, etc? Once upon a time a cathedral could imagine it was providing an example of musical excellence to which all parishes might aspire. There is too much diversity in Christian music now… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago
Reply to  Swithun

Swithun, you make valid points, but I’m afraid I don’t follow your conclusions about ‘diversity’.   I’d argue that the two purposes you mention aren’t diametrically opposed. The wealth of talent in cathedrals ensures the greatest diversity of musical idioms humanly possible, in the context of Anglican worship, to the glory of God. Paradoxically, the constraints of liturgy and poetic religious texts (King James BIble, Myles Coverdale, Thomas Cranmer etc.) allow the greatest freedom imaginable for the composer and liturgist, drawing on centuries of musical word-painting. Cathedrals therefore offer the most eclectic musical styles.   Admittedly, an informal parish church… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Bravo. I agree entirely. Some contributors seem unaware that cathedral music already includes the modern and adventurous. There are ‘jazzy’ evening canticles and and new hymns and carols regularly appearing and entering into the choir’s repertoire. But you hit the nail on the head that such music performed to highest standard requires highest skills. Very little is said on TA about the organist. Many of our cathedrals, actually most if not all, have skilled professional organists. In normal times cathedral choirs make overseas tours; organists and choirs record CDs, generating both income and goodwill for the cathedral. Examples abound all… Read more »

Andrew
Andrew
1 month ago

On a visit to Salisbury Cathedral during Epiphanytide about a decade ago I was lucky enough to be there for an inspired multi-arts event, which illustrates what can be done with skill and imagination. It was a performance of the twentieth century French composer Olivier Messiaen’s organ suite La Nativite du Seigneur combined with Sophie Hacker’s art exhibition Icons of the Incarnation.   Savi mentions Indian Raga – one of the Eastern influences Messiaen deployed in his ouvre, along with birdsong, plainsong, vivid colouration, in a uniquely modernist idiom which pushed the boundaries of tonality, that few organists would dare… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
1 month ago
Reply to  Andrew

Apologies for this late response. Such a rapid turnover of comments on TA. I think another (perhaps less accessible to most listeners), was Messiaen’s contemporary Charles Tournemire (successor of César Franck at Ste Clothilde Paris) whose monumental work “L’Orgue Mystique”, a sequence of liturgical movements covering the Church’s year, has also been coupled with an art exhibition. I think that may have been at Southwark Cathedral. It was a few years ago.

Kate
Kate
1 month ago
Reply to  Savi Hensman

Put it this way, if listen to Christian music I might choose either Pergolesi Magnificat or Be Still by Aled Jones. Good music is good music.

John Wall
John Wall
1 month ago

There certainly seems to be a great deal of BS in the Bethel Sozo movement, at least according to Janet Fife’s account of it.

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