Friday, September 8, 2017

Holy Orders and the Future of the ACNA

Today the ACNA released a statement from the special College of Bishops meeting this week to consider the future of Women’s Ordination in the ACNA. The bishops met to follow up on the Holy Orders Task Force report that was completed in January and released in May.

Abp Foley Beach said the statement was “unanimously adopted”; the key paragraph says:
…we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women's ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women's ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. However, we continue to acknowledge that individual dioceses have constitutional authority to ordain women to the priesthood.
As with the original report, there was no news coverage and surprisingly little commentary on this decision to keep the status quo (at least for now).

A critic from the Continuing Anglican movement wrote:
Clearly, one cannot tell, despite their name, if they are a church or a confederation of churches. In reality, it is confusing even to many on the inside; actually they are both in certain ways.

The tragedy of their decision regarding Women's Ordination is that they are following on the same road, in the same direction as the Episcopal "Church" from which they claimed independence only eight years ago.…
A conservative REC priest layman saw it as a permanent endorsement of “dual integrities”:
Although disappointed with their decision, I do have to give them credit on one thing – they did not kick the can down the road, but went ahead and made their decision.  Whatever one feels about WO, it’s better to know where we stand now than later.

However, I do not think the bishops realize, or at least are not admitting in this statement they realize, what danger ACNA is in.  Archbishop Beach’s statement that the bishops are “more unified than ever” seems wishful to me.  Maybe the bishops are very unified but many of the rest of us in ACNA are not. But I will have to put that subject aside for another post or two.

And perhaps the bishops are not all that unified.  I do not have privy information nor should I speculate.  But a close reading of the statement may reveal divisions.  
In the most detailed commentary, today’s Anglican TV webcast by Kevin Kallsen and George Conger spent almost a half hour of their 39 minute broadcast on the COB decision and the earlier report. They stated that there were clearly enough anti-WO votes in the House of Bishops for a moratorium (which many expected).

The two noted that the Internet — both their own comments page and Facebook — were burning up with comments; however, I consider this somewhat disingenuous as Conger posted a link to the Anglican Ink press release to two ACNA and one Continuing Anglican discussion groups.

An anti-WO comment on Anglican Ink said:
Essentially, ACNA is TEC with the clock rolled back to about 1980. With the exception that ACNA has now institutionalized multiple episcopal jurisdictions in all places- since that is the only way this works. There will be a WO and a non-WO jurisdiction overlapping everywhere for the foreseeable future, and the resulting "impaired" communion within the church. Essentially, 2 churches that have a common hierarchy and home office. If you ask "who is the bishop?" you will get 2 answers.
The general reaction of the pro-WO posters on Facebook was relief that there was no change. A longtime WO supporter wrote in support of dual integrities and thus the status quo:
WO is unique within Anglicanism as it is a doctrine under reception. This means that any province may ordain women priests and bishops and none must. This basic attitude within the Anglican Communion is the model the ACNA was founded upon and which our Constitution and Canons reflect, and which the College of Bishops just affirmed. Many believe the biblical witness is clearly in support of their side, so we agree to disagree and carry on.
Kallsen and Conger were more positive than most on the decision, thinking a brilliant political (and perhaps ecclesiastical) decision — and showing stronger leadership and unity than (for example) the Church of England or GAFCON. Conger — an official in the Episcopal Diocese of Central Florida — predicted that if the ACNA ended WO, then many of these women would join TEC which would be a PR nightmare.

Kallsen and Conger read the statement as deferring a decision for now. Others (as with the REC priest) see it as confirming that dual integrities will never be revoked. Some on the anti-WO side, drawing parallels to TEC, predict that the dual integrities will continue until enough dioceses elected pro-WO bishops to change the policy and allow female bishops.

I don’t know how it will turn out, but it’s hard to see how two different integrities will still be in a single jurisdiction a generation from now: it’s an unstable compromise that nobody will accept in the long run rather than a permanent solution.

It seems like a more stable solution would be dual integrities, dual provinces — perhaps sharing custody of their liturgy and seminaries, and both members of GAFCON. Each province would be true to its core beliefs — presumably including female bishops for the C4SO province. Over time we could see whether these are both orthodox provinces that differ only over women’s ordination, or whether they fundamentally have two incompatible theologies.

Update Sept. 12: While news coverage is limited, there were three newer reports posted:

On Sept. 9, Anglican Ink posted an open letter from Bp. Todd Hunter (of C4SO) — the leading advocate of women’s ordination in the College of Bishops — that implies that the outcome was a victory for his cause:
Thankfully, the outcome of the conclave permits C4SO to continue our practice of ordaining women of character and integrity as priests and deacons, enabling them to serve in whatever way their spiritual gifts, calling and temperament call for. We continue to conduct this practice in humility toward those who disagree with us, and we do so with a laser focus on mission and being ambassadors of God’s kingdom—male and female alike. I am proud to serve alongside our women. They have shown extraordinary patience and grace during a particularly difficult period of waiting to receive the outcome of this conclave.
On Sept. 12, Pittsburgh Bp. Jim Hobby — successor to retired Abp. Robert Duncan who created the “dual integrities” — published a letter that emphasizes more conciliatory nature of the decision and less the victory of his side.

On Sept. 10, journalist David Virtue of Virtue Online called it a “Solomonic Decision” in a commentary that read in part:
In a decision that will not please everybody, but one that goes against the grain of progressive Anglican provinces like The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, the Church of England, the Church in Wales, the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Australia and AOTEAROA; the Anglican Church in North America vetoed women bishops and women priests, but left open the door to those dioceses that still wish to ordain women.
He then listed the status of women’s ordination in the global Anglican Communion, as well as the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church,. He concluded by quoting former ECUSA priest  (and onetime philosophy professor) Alice Linsley arguing against women’s ordination.



Sunday, August 20, 2017

We believe as we sing

Although they have broken from the Episcopal Church, many AMiA and ACNA churches continue to be guided by the liturgical “reforms” of the Episcopal Church, including the theology that led up the 1979 prayer book.

In his article on the theology of worship in the standard textbook on Anglicanism, Prof. Louis Weil of the Church Divinity School of the Pacific states
Anglicanism gives force to the ancient adage, Lex orandi legem statuat credendi, ‘the law of prayer establishes the law of faith. (Weil, 1998: 61).
From this, he emphasizes the ongoing need to update the liturgy to keep it relevant (emphasis added):
[T]he Prayer Book plays a dynamic role in shaping a new liturgical mentality in which the odd [sic] truths are seen afresh. Such a transition never takes place easily, because there seems to be a natural conservatism in worshippers in regards to the rituals through which faith has been articulated. … [C]hange must come so that we may be faithful to the gospel as it speaks to the real world in which we live.  [66]
Singing is Liturgy

In their modest revision to Rite II of that prayer book, the ACNA rejected the most glaring doctrinal errors of the words of that prayer book. But as lex orandi makes clear, the experience of liturgy is not just words.

It seems as though (outside the REC and Continuing churches), there are many 21st century Anglican clergy who consider themselves theologically orthodox, and yet choose (or allow their music minister to choose) the most contemporary form of worship music, up to and including songs off the top 40 list of the Contemporary Christian Music radio station.

By any definition, congregational singing during the service is part of the liturgy and the liturgical experience. (At many evangelical churches, it is the only part that in which the congregation participates). And thus the nature of how we worship is not just the words we sing — the explicit hymn doctrine — but how we sing them.

Of course, today we instruments that didn’t exist in 1st century. The invention or improvement of instruments didn’t stop with the perfection of the pipe organ in the baroque period or even the invention of the fortepiano in the 18th century.

But the idea that we must constantly update how we sing and other aspects of worship means — by the principles of lex orandi — that we must constantly update what we as Anglican believe. The latter means that we are thus rejecting the idea of Anglicanism as being a Protestant manifestation of the historic, undivided church, in continuity with Christian beliefs throughout the millennia.

I am hoping that most readers of this blog would find the latter a step too far. I can’t claim that this principle means banishing all CCM from the nave, but at least it should cause the clerical and lay leadership of an orthodox parish to think about what it says to the culture — and the congregation — to choose such music for the weekly worship.

References

Weil, Louis, “The Gospel in Liturgy”, in Booty, John E., Stephen Sykes, and Jonathan Knight, eds., The Study of Anglicanism. Rev. Ed. Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1998, pp. 55-83.

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hymns for Trinity 9

As part of my Sacred Music class at Cranmer the class was required to select hymns (and explain the selection) for a Sunday communion service, weekday morning and evening prayer, and for a special service (in my case, ordination of a priest).

My assigned Sunday was Trinity 9 (next Sunday). Since it seems germane to the theme of this blog, below is my assignment and what I submitted. Ground rules for the assignment:

  1. All hymns should be taken from Hymnal 1940;
  2. For this hymn only one “obscure or unfamiliar” hymn was allowed. Since the seminary is headquartered at the Church of the Holy Communion in Dallas, the hymns regularly used at CHC were used by the class to define “familiar” hymns.

9th Sunday after Trinity (Holy Communion)

Readings:

  • 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, which emphasizes the unity of believers while calling out human sins of the Old Testament that displeased God
  • Luke 15:11-32, The Prodigal Son

There are not obvious hymns about the Prodigal Son in Hymnal 1940, and so all the hymns chosen for this week are tied to the Epistle.

These hymns touch on three aspects of the first lesson: Conformity to God’s Will, Church Unity and Brotherhood. Each of these is a topic listed in the Topical Index of The Hymnal of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America 1940 (hereafter Hymnal 1940). The first topic relates to our union with God — sometimes called vertical communion — while the latter two both relate to our union with other Christians, otherwise known as horizontal communion. All of the hymns selected for this Sunday fit one of these two themes.

Processional: 535, “Rise up, O men of God” [1]

In the Hymnal 1940 Topical Index, the topic “Brotherhood” (page 800) lists 17 hymns. One of these is “Rise up, O men of God”, written in 1911 by William Person Merrill, an American Presbyterian minister, for the Presbyterian brotherhood movement.[2]

This brief hymn — four verses of Short Metre (6.6.8.6) — touches on both types of communion and unity. On the one hand, a part of each verse emphasizes unity with fellow Christians, as with verse 2 (“Bring in the day of brotherhood”) and verse 4 (“As brothers of the Son of man, Rise up, O men of God.”) At the same time, the brief hymn emphasizes obedience to God, as in verse 1 (“Give heart, and soul, and mind, and strength to serve the King of kings”), in contrast to the disobedience and sin that Paul laments in 1 Cor. 10:6-10.

It is relatively singable: except for the first phrase, the melody has simple voice leading, and the first four notes are in unison. It also has simple meter, with 20 of the 26 syllables on a quarter note (the remainder split between paired eighth notes and dotted half notes). According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 200 hymnals — known to multiple denominations, but not among the most popular. It did appear in all three Episcopalian hymnals of the 20th century: Hymnal 1916, Hymnal 1940 and (in inclusive language form) Hymnal 1982, and is familiar at the Church of the Holy Communion (hereafter CHC) in Dallas.

Gradual: 465, “Nearer, my God to thee”

In the Topical Index, nine hymns are listed under “Conformity to God.” The most familiar would appear to be “Nearer, my God to thee” (#465). According to Hymnary.org, the hymn has been published in more than 2,000 hymnals. The hymn was originally written in 1840, based on the Old Testament dream of Jacob, in which God renews his covenant with the children of Abraham and Jacob vows to tithe all that he has to God.

All five verses emphasize how Jacob will get nearer to God through obedience and worship to God. In other words, Jacob is the model of Old Testament obedience to the Law sought by Paul, rather than the disobedience that he specifically chastises.

Sermon: 536, “Turn back O man”

In the rare week when the focus of the sermon is known before the bulletin is printed, I would choose a hymn that ties directly to that focus. Otherwise, my preference for something that is reflective, to help each parishioner think about his or her role as a Christian and prepare his/her heart to hear the message being preached.

Among the 17 hymns listed in the “Brotherhood” Topical Index in the Hymnal 1940, the most familiar to me is “Turn back O man” (#536). The hymn begins on a reflective note, opening with a call for us to think about and repudiate our “foolish ways”. It builds up to a call for church unity with its final verse:

Earth shall be fair, and all her people one:
Nor till that hour shall God’s whole will be done.
Now, even now, once more from earth to sky
Peals forth in joy man’s old, undaunted cry.
Earth shall be fair, and all her people one.

The voice leading of the melody is simple. It is a relatively recent text, written in 1916 for a tune and arrangement by Gustav Holst (based on an earlier tune from the 16th century Genevan Psalter). It appears in two Church of England hymnals edited by Ralph Vaughan Williams — Songs of Praise (1925) and Songs of Praise Enlarged Edition (1931). However, according to Hymnary.org, it appears in only 56 hymnals — a relatively small number — and so I would have to assume that it would be unfamiliar to Americans not raised on Hymnal 1940.

Recessional: 396, “The Church’s one foundation”

A key theme of the first lesson is Paul exhorting the faithful in Corinth to be united in their love of and obedience to Christ. In the Topical Index on page 801, Hymnal 1940 lists six hymns for “Church Unity.” Hymn 396, “The Church’s one foundation”, discusses both the horizontal communion between the members of the Church, and the vertical communion of the Bride of Christ (i.e. the Church) to Christ. This latter role of the Church is emphasized throughout the hymn through the use of the female pronoun to refer to the Church, as in the second verse:

Elect from every nation, Yet one o’er all the earth,
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth;
One holy Name she blesses, Partakes one holy food,
And to one hope she presses, With every grace endued.

The third phase of this verse recalls 1 Cor. 10:3 in the first lesson: “all ate the same spiritual food” (ESV, New KJV) or “did all eat the same spiritual meat” (KJV).

The hymn is both familiar and has a singable tune with simple voice leading and straightforward harmony. It should also be known to most English-speaking Protestants and Catholics, appearing on a list of 150 ecumenical hymns compiled by the Consultation on Ecumenical Hymnody.[3] According to Hymnary.org, it appears in more than 700 hymnals, and it is a familiar hymn at the CHC.

Footnotes

  1. Normally I would consider this as a recessional hymn, but that could be risky in some parishes where the Hymnal 1940 text would be considered sexist and have people leave church with an un-Christian attitude. If I had a newer text, e.g. “Rise up ye saints of God” (#551) in Hymnal 1982, then I would probably use it at the end. Otherwise, I am counting on people to forget any imagined slight over the next hour of the service.
  2. Except as noted, all historical and biographical details about hymns and hymnwriters is taken from The Hymnal 1940 Companion, 3rd rev. ed., New York: The Church Pension Fund, 1956.
  3. This list of 150 ecumenical hymns is reported by Gary D. Penkala, “Core Hymnody,” CanticaNOVA Publications, URL: http://www.canticanova.com/articles/hymns/art241.htm

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Come, let us sing!

Today is the first day of Forward in Faith North America’s annual conference. The 2017 Assembly is being held 13 miles from DFW in the Texas Metroplex, in the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

We kicked off the Assembly with a sung evensong, with a 17-voice choir formed by the local music director and volunteers from St. Vincent’s Cathedral and St. Mark’s Anglican in Arlington. Their obvious talent aside, it was great to hear a medium-sized choir, which sounds so much more full and than the 4- to 10-voice choirs I’ve mainly heard the last 15 years. (One small gripe: like most volunteer choirs, there weren’t enough men’s voices with only 5 of the 17).

The service was a 1928 BCP Evening Prayer, although the text was obviously unfamiliar to many of those present. (One tip-off: saying “Holy Spirit” instead of “Holy Ghost.”) The music was picked with taste from the English repertoire, included chants and anthems by John Stainer, John Goss, Alec Rowley, and C.H.H. Parry.

However, as a member of the congregation (rather than in the choir or an organizer), I (re)learned a valuable lesson. There was literally no music to sing — unless you count the monotone chant of the creed and the Lord’s Prayer. As you might expect for a conference of Anglo-Catholic clergy (including five bishops and one bishop-elect), there was a lot of music talent in the pews — and some of us sang along anyway (particularly on the psalm, where it was practical enough to learn as we went.)

So there were at least two key lessons:
  • For most churches and most occasions, more music should be sung by the congregation than by the choir alone. That often means two really great and elaborate anthems, and then three hymns plus service music where the congregation can sing along.
  • If the congregation is asked (or expects) to sing along, don’t trick them. For example, if we sign “Amen” after the officiant for three prayers, either make the Amens all the same or write out the music.
And this points to a final lesson. Over the past few years, I learned a lot about take-for-grantedness by visiting a wide range of churches before choosing my current church, and I’ve also tried to visit unfamiliar churches while traveling. The clergy, music director and choir need to get out more so they have empathy for how those in the pews experience the liturgy.

Sunday, July 16, 2017

Picking a tune for Whittier’s greatest hit

This morning’s bulletin included a copy of “Dear Lord and Father of mankind,” which meant it wasn’t in the hymnal — but it was. So this warranted further investigation.

When I got home, I checked my six 20th century Anglican hymnals — it’s in all of them, but with different tunes. All seem to use the same five verses — dropping the 4th verse of Whittier’s original 6 — and it appears to have escaped bowdlerization in the later hymnals (perhaps because the only offensive word, “mankind”, appears in the first phrase). However, there are five different tunes.

In chronological order:
  • The English Hymnal (1906): #383, Hammersmith
  • Hymnal 1916: #120, 1) Newcastle; and 2) Rest
  • Songs of Praise, Enlarged Edition (1931): #481, 1) Repton; 2) Nicolaus (Lobt Gott)
  • Hymnal 1940: #435, 1) Hermann (same as Nicolaus); 2) Rest
  • Hymnal 1982: #652, Rest; #653, Repton
  • New English Hymnal (1986): #353, Repton

Text

The 1872 text is by John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892), the American poet whose work I had heard of as a kid but (it appears) I never read any of it. His name is more familiar because it was attached to a street near my elementary school (and high school), a town (where Richard Nixon grew up) and a college. The Cyber Hymnal reports that this abolitionist was known as “America’s ‘Quaker Poet’,” that he authored nearly 100 hymns and perhaps 20 are still found in hymnals. Of these texts, “Dear Lord” is the only one I recognize.

Here are the five verses, in the form that (according to Hymnal 1940 Companion) it was first adapted in 1905:
Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
forgive our foolish ways;
reclothe us in our rightful mind,
in purer lives thy service find,
in deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard
beside the Syrian sea
the gracious calling of the Lord,
let us, like them, without a word
rise up and follow thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
where Jesus knelt to share with thee
the silence of eternity,
interpreted by love!

Drop thy still dews of quietness,
till all our strivings cease;
take from our souls the strain and stress,
and let our ordered lives confess
the beauty of thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
thy coolness and thy balm;
let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm!

Usage

The hymn is listed as a general hymn except in 1916, when it’s called out for Septuagesima. The Liturgical Index of Hymnal 1940 lists it for morning prayer at Trinity VII MP, and evening prayer on Lent III and St. Matthias. In the Lectionary hymn choices by Rev. Richard R. Losch on DrShirley.org, it is recommended for
  • Epiphany 3A/St. Andrew: Matthew 4:12-23
  • Epiphany 3B: Mark 1:14-20
  • Epiphany 5C: Luke 5:1-11
  • Last Epiphany B/Proper 8C: I Kings 19: 9-21
  • Proper 7B: Mark 4:35-5:20
  • Proper 14C: Hebrew 11:1-16

Tunes

These are the five tunes across the six hymnals:
  • Hammersmith, by William Henry Gladstone, M.P. (1840-1891), eldest son of the famous British prime minister.
  • Newcastle, written in 1875, it is the only surviving hymn of English organist Henry L. Morley (c. 1834).
  • Nicholaus, written in 1554 by Nicholaus Hermann (c.1500-1561), the early Lutheran hymnwriter; the tune was arranged and harmonized by J.S.  Bach (apparently for his BWV 151 cantata).
  • Hermann, the same tune, but harmonized by Winifred Douglas for his Hymnal 1940.
  • Repton, written in 1888 by Sir C. Hubert H. Parry (1848-1918), second director of the Royal College of Music who is buried in the Chapel of the OBE at St. Paul’s Cathedral. The New English Hymnal says it was “from a song in his oratorio Judith.
  • Rest, by English organist Federick Maker (1844-1927), written in 1887 specifically for this text.
All except the Parry have four part harmonies. If the hymnal choices reflect broader congregational popularity, today the choice seems to be between Rest and Ripton.

Rest is the one we sang as a kid, is familiar to an Episcopalian of the past century, and has four part harmonies; however, cradle Episcopalians are no longer the core audience for Anglican churches. Ripton has only a melody — the Parry harmonization is for organ and not voices — but is the one that’s on all the recordings (by English choirs, naturally).

Because the range is better for lower voices, I vote for Rest. Our music director (an Anglophile) votes for Ripton because, well, it’s Parry; my teenage daughter also votes for it, because it’s the one she’s learned on YouTube.

I get the argument about Parry, but musically I don’t give Parry, Stainer, Stanford or even Elgar the same deference as Purcell or Tallis. (I would put Holst and Vaughan Williams in the latter category). So here it seems like a matter of taste or congregation familiarity. But in the long run, if Americans don’t record their tunes they’ll be forgotten by future generations.