Sunday, October 2, 2011

Small victory for the Anglican diaspora

While a few of the Schism I crowd left ECUSA with their property, before the Dennis Canon, and a few parishes (and three diocese) are in court to keep the facilities they owned prior to the split — the reality is that many Schism II parishes left with only their people and a great deal of hope. These parishes have been renting other churches (off peak), schools, community centers or other meeting space. (Such rented facilities were also the norm for other new church plants for decades.)

Today St. James of San Jose completed what must have been one of the quickest ACNA journeys in the wilderness, as they celebrated their first day worshiping in their own sanctuary. The parish was formed by ECUSA refugees in March 2009 from St. Edwards, the last evangelical parish in the Diocese of El Camino Real (headed by a Nashotah House grad).

The parish spend the intervening months renting space at San Jose and Saratoga community centers, pioneering the “church in a box” weekly setup process.

The new sanctuary was formerly a small community church in Willow Glen, that had largely sat empty since its pastor retired. St. James visited the parish in Spring 2010, then forgot about it until it was offered the parish again this summer — with the owners generously selling at a price far under market.
St. James held its first two services at the parish on Sunday — the 9:00 am Rite I with hymns and the 10:30 Rite II with rock band. Having a sanctuary solves the problem of midweek services, including Ash Wednesday, Good Friday and Christmas.

Five miles from their former St. Edwards home, the new location puts the ACNA back in Northern California's most populous city, as part of Father Ed McNeill's efforts to build for ACNA a Diocese of San Francisco Bay. It also allows Rev. McNeill and others to focus on planting additional ACNA parishes in Northern California, and to help those parishes gain their own permanent church facilities.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Anglo-Lutheran worship

For the first time since they processed away from their building, today I attended Holy Trinity (ACNA) in San Diego, which now worships at the LCMS parish next door to their longtime sanctuary.

As it happens, it was also the observance of feast of Pentecost, so I was able to witness their high feast worship style. It was nothing but “bells and smells” (as my choir buddies used to call it) with full incense at the most Anglo-Catholic of the Schism II parishes in San Diego. I estimate about 75 people were in the sanctuary for the 8 a.m. service.

The choice of the opening and closing hymns were about as Anglican as you can get — both with Vaughan Williams tunes from The English Hymnal: “Hail thee festival day!” (Pentecost edition) and “Come down, O love divine.”

However, the “Hail thee” was rendered in an unusual format by the Lutheran hymnals that Holy Trinity is using while temporarily meeting at Bethany Lutheran in OB. One unusual quirk is that the Lutherans decided that RVW only gets one hymn for three feast days — Easter, Ascension and Pentecost — with 3 variants specified for the chorus, verse 1 and verse 2. Without having the hymnal in front of me, it was impossible to say what damage this did to the CoE conception of the hymn.

The other change was more obvious. Instead of the PECUSA (1940, 1982):
Hail thee, festival day! blest day that are hallowed for ever;
Day whereon God from heav’n shone in† the world with his grace.
the Lutheran Book of Worship (and also the other Bethany parish hymnal, the Lutheran Service Book) render the refrain as
Hail thee, festival day! blest day to be hallowed forever;
Day when the Holy Ghost shone in the world with his grace.
(† The English Hymnal (#630) says “shown on the world” but the refrain is otherwise the same.)

The translation of the Fortunatus was attributed to the LBW, a ELCA hymnal that was rejected by the LCMS due to doctrinal errors. But the LSB translation is no better.

As far as I could tell, the other RVW hymn was divine (with words similar to those of H40 #376).

In the middle, Holy Trinity sang as its second communion hymn “O Lord, we praise you” which was unfamiliar to these Anglican ears but with a pedigree about as Lutheran as they get: verse 1 from 15th century Germany, verses 2-3 from 16th century Martin Luther hymself, and a 1524 tune from a German hymnbook.

So in the end, this was an English-American-Lutheran blended worship service — a bit unfamiliar but better than a rock band playing 19th century hymns.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

PECUSA hymnals: first 130 years

In reading about the American prayer book, I found interesting snippets of history regarding the PECUSA hymnals of the 19th and early 20th century. The source was William Sydnor, The Real Prayer Book: 1954 to the Present (1978).

The end of Chapter VII (on the 1892 BCP) and beginning of Chapter VIII (on the 1928) summarize American hymnals up to that date. (No mention is made of Hymnal 1940.) According to the book, the American church distributed hymns as follows:
  • 1786: 51 hymns, 8 pages of tunes, appended to end of proposed prayer book
  • 1789: 27 hymns (no tunes) as an appendix
  • 1826: 212 hymns (no tunes) appended to the prayer book
  • 1828: tune book published by Rev. Jonathan Mayhew Wainwright
  • 1871: 502 hymns in first stand-alone hymnal
  • 1896: 679 hymns
  • 1916: 559 hymns, adding 126 and dropping 200. Sydnor favorable quotes a contemporaneous account that praises Hymnal 1916 as “a visible demonstration of the liberality of the [General] Convention to new devotional demands.”
Of course, regular readers know that PECUSA has since published two main hymnals, Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982.

It turns out that this history came from the preface to the Hymnal 1940 Companion, a must have book for any Anglican musician. (By now I would also own the companion to Hymnal 1982, except that it’s multiple books totaling hundreds of dollars, which I am acquiring as I can find them available used.)

Although it’s the only book I’ve found about the history of the American prayer book, I can’t say I care for the book overall. It was written as an apologia for the 1979 prayer book and in the sort of temporo-centrist conceit common to that century, claims that the vast transformation of industrial society justifies new approaches to worship and theology. As with Oremus, it also justifies modernist revisionism with the claim “things were always changing anyway.”

Actually the Brits managed just fine with one prayer book for 300 years. The late Peter Toon argued that if you changed the thees and thous, it would make a fine prayer book for 21st century Americans.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Good Good Friday hymn

Tonight I ended Lent the same way it began — by worshiping at the local LCMS parish that I once attended. (Due to a schedule mixup, we missed the service at our Anglican parish.)

It reminded me of my days in their choir, particularly the good days when we got to sing Bach and other traditional four part harmonies. Out of The Lutheran Hymnal, we sang “Jesus, I will ponder now” — something I’ve never heard in a ECUSA/Anglican service but was very familiar from my LCMS period.

My former section partner drafted me to the choir to help him with another local favorite — “God so loved the world” by John Stainer.

However, the musical highlight of the Tenebrae service was the hymn I consider the quintessential Good Friday hymn: “O sacred head now wounded.” It was sung in between passion lessons as the candles were extinguished.

The original 12th century Latin text (Salve caput cruentatum) is attributed to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, but the hymn owes its origins to the German Lutheran reformers: a German adaptation by Paul Gerhardt, the melody (Passion Chorale) by Hans Leo Hassler (1601).

Despite its Lutheran bonafides, it’s also a familiar tune among Anglicans. Oremus lists the hymn as being in all the major Anglican hymnals: Hymns Ancient and Modern, The English Hymnal, Songs of Praise and New English Hymnal in England, Hymnal 1916, Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982 in the US, as well as hymnals from Ireland, Canada and Australia.

The Lutheran Hymnal (1941) uses their own harmonization while ironically the Anglicans seem to use the Bach harmonization (with many more passing notes). The Lutheran Service Book (2006) lists both harmonization.

The other major difference is in the German to English translation. Hymnal 1940 (#75) and Hymnal 1982 (#168) use an English translation by Robert Seymour Bridges that begins:
O sacred head, sore wounded
Defined and put to scorn.
O kingly head, surrounded,
with mocking crown of thorn.
while the American Lutherans use an unattributed translation from the TLH that’s slightly different:
O sacred Head, now wounded,
With grief and shame weighed down.
How scornfully surrounded
With thorns, Thine only crown.
I’ve sung both so at this point both seem OK. A more serious difference is that the Lutherans keep all 10 verses, while the ECUSA hymnals only keep 4 and 5 respectively (a rare example of where H82 is an improvement). Alas, the LSB drops down to 4 verses for Bach and 7 verses for the TLH harmonization.

Still, it’s hard to imagine a hymn more appropriate for Good Friday. It would be a “must sing” hymn for Good Friday if I were a Continuing Anglican music director, just as it is at this LCMS parish. The only other hymn that comes to mind is the Negro spiritual “Were you there when they crucified my Lord?” (H40: #80) which we used as an anthem one year at this LCMS parish.

Update Saturday 3:30 p.m.: Catching up on Issues Etc., I found that on Friday it broadcast an interview with Pastor Will Weedon on this very hymn. Quoting Dr. C. Matthew Philips of Concordia U Nebraska, Pastor Weedon attributes the Latin text to Arnulf of Louvain, a 13th century poet and abbot.

A quick search on Google Scholar reveals a 2005 article that says:

Gerhardt could still use medieval models for his hymnody, including Arnulf of Louvain, whose 'Salve caput cruentatum' lies behind the well-known 'O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden' ('O sacred head surrounded').

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Bono's Amazing Grace

A 2005 book — Bono: In Conversation with Michka Assayas — includes long interviews with the U2 frontman. The Anglican blog “Baby Blue Online” (quoting the blog “The Poached Egg”) excerpts passages about his Christian faith, including his personal relationship with Christ, his occasional suspicion of organized religion, giving his famous shades to Pope John Paul II, and how he sees “the Old Testament as more of an action movie.”

Any doubts about Bono being a Christian — rather than yet another New Age rock star — is dispelled by his impassioned explication of my favorite Scripture passage (John 14:6):
Look, the secular response to the Christ story always goes like this: he was a great prophet, obviously a very interesting guy, had a lot to say along the lines of other great prophets, be they Elijah, Muhammad, Buddha, or Confucius. But actually Christ doesn't allow you that. He doesn't let you off that hook. Christ says: No. I'm not saying I'm a teacher, don't call me teacher. I'm not saying I'm a prophet. I'm saying: "I'm the Messiah." I'm saying: "I am God incarnate." And people say: No, no, please, just be a prophet. A prophet, we can take. You're a bit eccentric. We've had John the Baptist eating locusts and wild honey, we can handle that. But don't mention the "M" word!
I don’t know if Bono has read C.S. Lewis, but he ends up at the exact same conclusion as Mere Christianity: “either Christ was who He said He was – the Messiah — or a complete nutcase.”

More directly relevant to this blog, another answer by Bono reminded me of the old devotional “Amazing Grace”:
I really believe we've moved out of the realm of Karma into one of Grace. … at the center of all religions is the idea of Karma. You know, what you put out comes back to you: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, or in physics; in physical laws every action is met by an equal or an opposite one. It's clear to me that Karma is at the very heart of the universe. I'm absolutely sure of it.

And yet, along comes this idea called Grace to upend all that "as you reap, so you will sow" stuff. Grace defies reason and logic. Love interrupts, if you like, the consequences of your actions, which in my case is very good news indeed, because I've done a lot of stupid stuff.
However, the hymn by John Newton takes the implication of grace one step further. The second and third verses (H82: #671) also emphasize the transformational nature of our salvation through faith:
’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed!

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
’Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.
Given all Bono has genuinely done to comfort the afflicted, perhaps we can take his actions (rather than his words) as a testimony to the transformational power of God’s saving grace.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Wonderful hymnology resource

I’ve previously quoted from John Julian’s 1892 Dictionary of Hymnology, because it is available in PDF form on Google Books.

However, now the formatted, searchable text is available on For example, here is a listing of hymn compilations from the entry for the late great John Mason Neale:
(1) Hymns for Children. Intended chiefly for Village Schools. London, Masters, 1842. (2) Hymns for the Sick. London, Masters, 1843, improved ed. 1849.
(3) Hymns for the Young. A Second Series of Hymns for Children. London, Masters, 1844.
(4) Songs and Ballads for Manufacturers. London, Masters, 1844.
(5) Hymns for Children. A Third Series. London, Masters, 1846.
(6) Mediaeval Hymns and Sequences. London, Masters. 1851; 2nd ed. 1861; 3rd. ed. 1863.
(7) Hymnal Noted. London, Masters & Novello, 1852: enlarged 1854. Several of the translations were by other hands. Musical editions edited by the Rev. T. Helmore. It is from this work that a large number of Dr. Neale's translations from the Latin are taken.
(8) Carols for Christmas and Eastertide. 1853.
(9) Songs and Ballads for the People. 1855.
(10) The Rhythm of Bernard de Morlaix, Monk of Cluny, on the Celestial Country. London, Hayes, 1st ed. 1858: 3rd ed., with revision of text, 1861. It contains both the Latin and the English translation.
(11) Hymns of The Eastern Church, Translated with Notes and an Introduction. London, Hayes, 1862: 2nd ed. 1862: 3rd ed. 1866 : 4th ed., with Music and additional notes, edited by The Very Rev. S. G. Hatherly, Mus. B., Archpriest of the Patriarchal (Ecumenical Throne. London, Hayes, 1882. Several of these translations and notes appeared in The Ecclesiastic and Theologian, in 1853.
(12) Hymns, Chiefly Mediaeval, on the Joys and Glories of Paradise. London, Hayes, 1865. This work contains notes on the hymns, and the Latin texts of the older amongst them.
(13) Original Sequences, Hymns, and other Ecclesiastical Verses. London, Hayes, 1866. This collection of Original verse was published posthumously by Dr. Littledale.
The online, indexed, searchable version of the Dictionary of Hymnology is a great resource for those tracking the origins and authorship of the great hymns of the past centuries. The coverage obviously stops at the end of the 19th century — but except for Ralph Vaughan Williams or perhaps Healey Willan, that’s no great loss.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

One child, three kings

On the Dec. 24 episode of Issues Etc., the first hour examined the Christmas hymn “What Child is This?” The show featured two LCMS pastors, host Todd Wilken and regular guest Will Weedon.

The show examined the three 19th century verses by William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898), set to the Elizabethan tune “Greensleeves” (H40: #36; H82: #115). Pastor Weedon noted it is one of three familiar Dix hymns — the same three that are in Hymnal 1940: “What Child” (#36), “As with gladness men of old” (#52 for Epiphany) and “Alleliuia, sing to Jesus” (#347, sung to Hyfrydol).

Rev. Weedon is a little more like me — an enthusiastic tyro rather than a scholar — than some of the show’s other experts like seminary professor Dr. Arthur Just. Still, like nearly all of the Issues Etc. episodes on familiar hymns, I enjoyed it immensely.

As it turns out, Dr. Just discussed this same hymn three years ago on Issues Etc. And two years ago, Pastor Wilken discussed the hymn in a discussion of listeners’ favorite hymns.

The discussion of the first verse was quite consonant with the earlier interview with Dr. Just: answering the question, who is Jesus of Nazareth and this baby in the manger? As Pastor Weedon notes, the first verse ties back to Luke 2 — by my reading, specifically Luke 2:15-16:
And it came to pass, as the angels were gone away from them into heaven, the shepherds said one to another, Let us now go even unto Bethlehem, and see this thing which is come to pass, which the Lord hath made known unto us.

And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
(Ironically, the other hour of the Dec. 24 show was Dr. Just talking about the Luke 2 account of the Nativity.)

The first verse also seems to evoke other hymns from this text, including “While shepherds watched their flocks by night” and of course “Hark, the herald angels sing.”

On the second verse, Pastor Weedon notes that the ox and ass are not in the New Testament, but are inferred (by Dix and others romanticizing the Nativity) from their presence in Isaiah 1:3:
The ox knows its owner, and the donkey its master’s crib,
but Israel does not know, my people do not understand."
Beyond this, two LCMS pastors emphasize Jesus coming to die on the cross. I suspect my regular reader jleebcd would argue this is an excessively Lutheran (or LCMS) fixation of making everything in the Old and New Testaments about the cross. But this reference seems more than just a Lutheran one — completely consistent with the 3rd verse of Charles Wesley (i.e. Methodist) hymn “Hark!”
Mild he lays his glory by,
Born that man no more may die:
Born to raise the sons of earth,
Born to give them second birth.
In the third verse, Pastor Weedon notes that the text leaps forward to Epiphany, with its reference to the three wise men (or kings) of Matthew 2. (Listening to LCMS pastors is always a good way to improve my German cultural knowledge — here that Epiphany is “Dreik√∂nigsfest” — literally, "festival of the three kings.”)

Again, Pastor Weedon ties the New Testament narrative back to an Isaiah prophecy, this one from Isaiah 60:1-3 (earlier used as the text of that wonderful Messiah aria):
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the LORD is risen upon thee.

For, behold, the darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people: but the LORD shall arise upon thee, and his glory shall be seen upon thee.

And the Gentiles shall come to thy light, and kings to the brightness of thy rising.
This makes my third posting on Dix’s hymn — each time about a separate mention of the hymn on Issues Etc. Each time I’ve learned something new about the hymn and how it can be used to communicate Christian doctrine. This is one reason that no matter how busy my December or early January, I always make sure to listen to back shows of Issues Etc. that air during this season.