Sunday, November 29, 2009

Setting the canon of Advent

Ever since last year’s posting quoting Leland Ross on the canonical Christmas Carols, I’ve been wanting to make a similar list for Advent hymn. I’ve been investigating this off and on all fall. What I present here is too little and a little later than I would have liked, but it is all I’ve got time to summarize thus far.

I consulted two seminal hymnals (The English Hymnal from 1906 and Hymnal 1940) and one modernist hymnal (Hymnal 1982). The latter was because I was giving advice to someone who uses that hymnal, not because my opinion of it has changed, but it does provide a proxy for what hymns were in common use in PECUSA in the late 1970s. I wish I could have also consulted Hymns Ancient & Modern (1861) — as well as some of my Lutheran hymnals — but ran out of time.

Exactly seven Advent hymns show up in all three hymnals with the same tune. Two of these hymns I’ve previously written about:
  1. “Creator of the stars of night,” tune: Conditor alme Siderum. TEH: 1, H40: 6 Tune 1; H82: 60
  2. “Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes,” tune: Bristol. TEH: 6T1; H40: 7; H82: 71
  3. Hark, a thrilling voice is sounding,” tune: Merton. TEH: 5; H40: 9; H82: 59.
  4. “Lo, he comes with clouds descending,” tune: Helmsley. TEH: 7; H40: 5T2; H82: 57. The Americans also have St. Thomas (H40: 5T1; H82: 58), which seems equally good but is somewhat easier to sing.
  5. O come, O come Emmanuel,” tune: Veni Emmanuel. TEH: 8; H40: 2; H82: 56.
  6. “On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry,” tune: Winchester New. TEH: 9; H40: 10; H82: 76.
  7. “Wake, awake, for night is flying,” tune: Sleepers, Wake. TEH: 12; H40: 3; H82: 61,62. (Note: This is the subject of a 11/23/2009 podcast at Issues Etc.)
A close runner up is
  1. “Thy kingdom come! On bended knee” appears in all three hymnals but not with the same tune. H40 (#391) and H82 (#615) use St. Flavian while TEH (and its 1986 successor the New English Hymnal) list Irish; the TEH (#504) alternately recommends St. Stephen. This is indexed as a general hymn, but listed by both TEH and H40 as a hymn “also” used for Advent.
Of those that showed up in two hymnals, my personal list of honorable mentions:
  1. Come, thou long-expected Jesus,” tune: Stuttgart, justifiably the first hymn in my favorite hymnal (H40: 1; H82: 66). I find the words by Charles Wesley to be perfect for signaling the beginning of Advent.
  2. “The King shall come when morning dawns,” tune: St. Stephen, H40: 11; H82: 73.
  3. “Christ whose glory fills the skies,” tune: Ratisbon, H40: 153; H82: 7. (H82 inflicts a new tune Christ Whose Glory as hymn #36). This is another H40 “also” Advent hymn, also with words by Wesley.
Four other hymns were found in two of the three hymnals — “O Word, that goest forth on high” (H40, H82), “The world is very evil” (TEH, H40), “Thy kingdom come, O God” (TEH, H40) and “Watchman, tell us of the night” (H40, H82) — but don’t seem to fit into the same category as the first 11. Only the first one (“O Word”) is listed in the Advent section, while the others are recommended alternates in the TEH and/or H40. (H82 doesn’t directly list alternates — I suspect they are in one of the hymnal companions.)

Finally, a 12th hymn is not listed as “Advent” but is recommended by H40 for Advent III and matches the H82 (Year C) reading for Advent II.
  1. “Love divine, all loves excelling,” tune: Hyfrydol, H40: 479T1; H82: 657. TEH and NEH print Charles Wesley’s words with other tunes, but I can’t imagine why anyone would ever sing anything but Rowland Prichard’s greatest hit.
The latter might seem like a stretch, but the phrases “Joy of heaven to earth come down” and “Come, almighty to deliver” do suggest a fit to the Advent theme. I’ll use any excuse to sing Hyfrydol, particularly if I can sing harmony.

Today at church we did two of the holy dozen: “Lo, he comes with clouds descending” and “Come thou long-expected Jesus.” I’m hoping that we’ll sing most of the remainder before Advent is over.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

San Diego wrent asunder

The latest court ruling has come in for two San Diego Anglican parishes, and — as with the recent run of news — the news was not good: both St. Anne’s (Oceanside) and Holy Trinity (Ocean Beach) have lost their cases at the Superior Court level. (Rev. Joe Rees, the new rector of St. Anne’s, issued a statement Friday, but I’ve seen no comment from Holy Trinity).

The San Diego paper has thus far ignored the story, but the Oceanside paper published a story Saturday. Former Anglican jleecbd has sympathy for the plight of these nearby parishes, but predicts — as consumers of the Anglican Fudge — they are merely deferring equally serious doctrinal issues down the road.

Bishop Mathes gloated by suggesting that the current occupants of the disputed buildings “come home,” knowing full well they won’t. He also claims to plan to rebuild the Oceanside parish as TEC outpost. However, there is no announced plan (nor any plausible plan) for reusing Holy Trinity, which — only 1.6 driving miles from All Souls (Point Loma) — has made a niche over the past 40 years by being traditional in contrast to all things trendy and progressive at All Souls.

I recall when Mathes was narrowly elected in November 2004 over Bishop Anthony Burton, the traditionalist candidate. Mathes was sold as a “moderate” but immediately began governing from the hard left. (Sound familiar, anyone). The shift from Bp. Hughes (a true moderate) to Mathes brought one of the most rapid exoduses of parishes from any TEC diocese over the past decade.

If you look at the Diocese of Western Anglicans (ACNA) congregations, six of the 22 parishes are from San Diego County — far out of proportion to the 3 million San Diegan’s share of the population of Southern California (19+ million) and Arizona (6.5 million). Not listed is St. Anne’s — I’m told that its former rector (Tony Baron) was not interested in joining ACNA, but the new rector was more open to the possibility.

Of these 7 San Diego Anglican parishes, five had already lost their buildings. No word on whether the two remaining parishes will be able to remain through Christmas in the buildings that loyal Christians paid to build and support over the past decades.

Meanwhile, the lead defendant in California — St. James Newport Beach — is continuing its case in Orange County Superior Court, despite losing a recent appeal to the US Supreme Court. (Perhaps they hope the court will recognize the legal absurdity of the TEC claim to be a hierarchical church.) No word on whether Holy Trinity (whose former warden was City Attorney of San Diego) plans to also appeal, but from Rev. Rees’ statement, it sounds like St. Anne’s plans to concede.

I’ve worshipped at three of the seven parishes, and so I know none of these decisions were ones made lightly. Instead, like parishes elsewhere in California, most (if not all) must work on building a new parish utilizing temporary facilities.

It’s possible that St. Anne’s has a favorable property alternative only a mile down the road. In 1994, fed up with the direction ECUSA was heading, St. Anne’s rector (Rev. Gary Heniser) quit the ECUSA to form Church of the Advent, a new parish of the Charismatic Episcopal Church. A few years ago, they acquired space at the old (but serviceable) Methodist church in Oceanside when that church moved across I-5 to bigger facilities. The CEC is more charismatic than Episcopal — not counted as “Anglican” by “San Diego Anglicans” — but the long ties between Father Heniser and his former flock might facilitate some sort of cooperation.

As a believer, even if all the remaining court cases go badly, I expect to see the successful rebirth of the Anglican faith in San Diego, Orange County, LA, the Central Valley and even pockets of the Bay Area. I fell sorry, however, for those in their 70s or 80s, whose last memories on this earth will be of the bitter court fights, dislocation, uncertainty and despair. Perhaps they will place their hopes in their children and grandchildren, who merely face challenges of money — not the risk of death or imprisonment in the early Christian church, or modern day China or Sudan.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Reformed but not Catholic

Many summaries of the Anglican faith describe it as “both Catholic and Reformed.” Sometimes this middle way has been called via media, until that term got corrupted by a leftwing TEC advocacy group.

However, the Church Society — the leading Evangelical group in the Church of England — not surprisingly prefers Reformed over Catholic. In the summer issue of its newsletter Cross†Way (reprinted by David Virtue), staffer David Meager summarizes the debate held at the group’s annual meeting:
Church Society met in May for its annual Conference at High Leigh. The aim was to determine whether the fundamental nature of the Church of England is 'Catholic' (i.e. unreformed) or 'Reformed'.
On the opening day Roger Beckwith addressed the question of whether the CofE was historically 'Catholic' or 'Reformed.' Roger explained that although Anglo-Catholicism and Liberalism had made inroads in the last 150 years the basis of the CofE was in fact reformed.
Roger then explained that the word 'catholic' meant 'universal' or 'general' and should not be confused with Roman Catholic or Anglo-Catholic, but rather 'catholic' expresses those who hold the common Biblical faith. Since the CofE Formularies acknowledge the ancient creeds (which also contain the word catholic) the CofE can therefore claim to be both catholic (in the true sense of the word) and reformed (unlike the Church of Rome which can be called neither catholic or reformed since it has distorted the catholic doctrine of justification by faith alone.)
This tension between Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic dates back (as the article makes clear) to the 17th century fights of the Puritans both to assert control over the church and the crown, and their periods of vigorous suppression, particularly under Charles I. But of course the tension continued for the next three centuries, over the theology of liturgy (especially the words of institution). Tensions flared anew after the 19th century Anglo-Catholic revival under the Oxford Movement.

The Evangelicals have made common cause in the US with Anglo-Catholics to create ACNA, and share many of the same objections to ECUSA theological innovations. However, before acquiring a common enemy in the revisionists there have been longstanding tensions between the Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic factions both in the US and UK.

What I found troubling about the Cross†Way account (and presumably the Church Society) position was the assumption (or deliberate distortion) that all Protestants are Calvinists — or that differences among Protestants are less significant than those between Protestants, Catholics and Orthodox.

Lutherans are clearly not Calvinists, and (despite some fudges by Philipp Melanchthon) they reject many Calvinist doctrines. I’ve been very blessed to learn from Lutheran Church (Missouri Synod) worship and online websites. Unlike the Anglicans, they actually have a confessional doctrine, contained in the Book of Concord.

Sincere there is no Anglican confession and very ambiguous doctrinal definitions, I find myself most guided by Lutheran doctrine. Like the Anglo-Catholic faith, it places a great weight on Christian tradition, except that the Lutherans reject the most egregious Papal excesses of Luther’s day. (Yes, I know that’s oversimplifying). It is thus possible to see an overlap between Lutheranism and the idea of Anglo-Catholics as “Catholic without the Pope,” much more than I can see common ground between the Anglo-Catholics and the 21st century Calvinists.