Sunday, December 24, 2017

Name that tune! Advent edition

One source of confusion or anxiety among parishioners is when they hear a familiar hymn text with an unfamiliar tune — or a tune that’s familiar for some other purpose. Hence I’m starting an irregular series of blog postings on this topic that I’ll call “Name that tune!” With only a few hours left in Advent, I’ll look at how this impacts the beginning of the church year.

Back in 2009, based on The English Hymnal, Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982, I listed 11 hymns as forming the canon of Advent:
  1. “Christ whose glory fills the skies”
  2. “Come, thou long-expected Jesus”
  3. “Creator of the stars of night”
  4. “Hark, a thrilling voice is sounding”
  5. “Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes”
  6. “Lo, he comes with clouds descending”
  7. “O come, O come Emmanuel”
  8. “On Jordan's bank the Baptist's cry”
  9. “The King shall come when morning dawns”
  10. “Thy kingdom come! On bended knee”
  11. “Wake, awake, for night is flying”
Here I’ll look at those hymns that list multiple tunes — in these 20th century hymnals, as well as the final CoE hymnal of the 20th century, the 1986 New English Hymnal. To this I’ll add the two most traditional 21st century Protestant hymnals: Lutheran Service Book (LCMS, 2006) and Book of Common Praise (REC, 2017).

Lo, he comes with clouds descending (H40: 5)

This 1758 text by Charles Wesley has two tunes. By far the most common is Helmsley, which dates to at least 1769 if not 1765. It is found in three editions of Hymns Ancient & Modern: 1861 (#31), the Standard Edition (#51), and 1904 edition (#52). It is also in The English Hymnal (#7) and New English Hymnal (#9). This is beautiful tune – the one on all the recordings — but as I wrote in 2010, a hard one for congregations to sing without a practiced choir.

However, the Americans like St. Thomas — the tune I grew up with, which is much easier to sing. (It also listed as an optional alternate tune as a footnote in TEH). It is the only tune listed in the U.S. Hymnal 1916 (#57). Thus, Hymnal 1940, Hymnal 1982 and Book of Common Praise 2017 have both: 5.2/5.1, 57/58, 4/5 respectively. Unfortunately, while TEH has a harmony, H40 dropped it — a mistake repeated by H82. Fortunately, BCP17 restores the TEH harmony.

Come, thou long expected Jesus (H40: 1)

This Charles Wesley hymn is the first in Hymnal 1940. In the Church of England, it appears in only the Standard Edition of A&M (#640) and then not again until the New English Hymnal (#3), which has two tunes: Halton Holgate and Cross of Jesus (neither familiar to me).

Instead, Hymnal 1916 introduces the hymn (#55) with the tune Stuttgart, which is the only tune listed by Hymnal 1940 (#1), Hymnal 1982 (#66) and Book of Common Praise 2017 (#57).

However, my daughter complained that her ACNA church, there are so many former Southern Baptists that they have to sing the Baptist version. The 1975 Baptist Hymnal lists Hyfrodol (“Love divine”) as hymn #79, honoring Methodist practice which has same tune in the 1939 The Methodist Hymnal (#84), the 1966 The Methodist Hymnal (#360), and the 1989 United Methodist Hymnal (#196). The 1966 hymnal lists Stuttgart as the alternative.

Meanwhile, the LSB (#338) lists Jefferson from Southern Harmony.

On Jordan’s bank, the baptist’s cry (H40: 10)

For this favorite, the English and US Anglicans are all in agreement: Winchester New from 1906 through 2017. Somehow the 1940 (The Lutheran Hymnal) and 2016 (LSB) LCMS hymnals instead use Puer Nobis. Similarly, “The King shall come when morning dawns” (H40: 11) is sung with the tune St. Stephen in H40, H82 and BCP17, while the LSB uses Consolation.

Hark the glad sound! the Savior comes (H40: 7)

In the 20th century, there was clear agreement: Bristol is the tune used by The English Hymnal, Songs of Praise (Enlarged Edition) and New English Hymnal in the COE, as well as Hymnal 1940 and Hymnal 1982 in ECUSA. However, the REC’s 2017 Book of Common Praise chooses Richmond; the text was also in the 1915 and 1940 edition of the REC hymnal, but doesn’t list the tunes.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Kings College Cambridge: 100th Annual Lessons & Carols

On Christmas Eve, King’s College Cambridge will conduct its Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols service. First started in 1918, this will mark the 100th service.

The service starts at 3pm GMT, 10am EST, 7am PST, and will be broadcast live by BBC 4, over FM in the U.K. and over the Internet. By my calculation, it will be the 90th broadcast on the BBC.

The program includes a detailed history of the service. It helpfully notes that since 1919, each service has begun with “Once in royal David’s city.”

The readings from the Authorized Version will overlap with those used over the past 20 years, but with slight variations. For example, as in 1997-2007, the first reading is Genesis 3:8-19 with the omission of Genesis 3:16, which was included last year:
And unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Consistent with the best practice that KCC itself established, the congregation will have its own chance to join in the singing. This year, the congregation hymns are:
  1. Once in royal David’s city (verses 3-6)
  2. O little town of Bethlehem (Vaughan Williams’ Forest Green, not the American St. Louis)
  3. God rest you merry, gentlemen
  4. O come, all ye faithful
  5. Hark! the herald angels sing
Except for “God rest” replacing “While watched their flocks”, the hymns are the same as last year.

The descants are slightly different; I am beginning to realize that while big church music directors keep familiar tunes to satisfy their (paying) congregation members, they feel no constraint to keep familiar descants (which only impact 25% of their choir). KCC music director Stephen Cleobury made the following choices
  1. Same as last user: used his own descant
  2. Substituted his own descant, to replace Thomas Armstrong’s from the printed New English Hymnal
  3. No descant
  4. Kept the arrangement and descant by David Willcocks (choir director 1957-1973), as published in Willcocks & Rutter (1987: 226-227)
  5. Substituted his own descant (also used in 2013 and 2014) instead of the descant by Philip Ledger (choir director 1974-1982) used in 2016 and 2012 — or the Willcocks descant (also from Willcocks & Rutter) used in 2015, 2011, 2010 and 2009
Our family is looking forward to beginning our Sunday with King’s College and their beautiful service, before we drive to our own Advent 4 service (and later on, I drive back to sing Midnight Mass).


David Willcocks & John RUtter, eds., 100 Carols for Choirs, Oxford University Press, 1987.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

A Cause for Caroling: BBC Reprises Xmas Radio Series

Back in December 2013, the BBC 4 radio ran a 10-part series entitled “A Cause for Caroling.” Hosted by Oxford choir director (and former choirboy) Jeremy Summerly, it traces the history of Christmas carols. It was really interesting, and — allowing for the strong point of view – I learned a lot.

Under the BBC business model, it was only available for a 30 days on and then blocked in favor of selling a two hour CD on Amazon’s UK or US website. However, it came back in December 2015 — and starting on Dec 11, the BBC began making the episodes available for 30 days each.

Below I provide the official abstracts of the series and the ten 15-minute episodes. The BBC also originally released two one-hour “omnibus” episodes — which separately summarize week 1 and week 2 — but these have not been available since 2013.
Below are the abstracts for the 10 episodes

1. A Carol’s a Carol, to Begin With

The first programme in a ten part series in which choral conductor and scholar Jeremy Summerly tells the story of the Christmas Carol in Britain. He begins by trying to capture something of the caroling traditions of today and then heads back into the misty caroling past discovering what he believes is the first carol in the English language.

2. Spreading the Medieval Word Made Flesh

The second programme in Jeremy Summerly's ten part series tracing the history of the Christmas Carol in Britain. Today he discovers the impact of the Franciscans in using the carol to make the birth of Jesus a focus for the church and harnessing the energy of popular music to that end.

3. From Coventry to Agincourt

In the third programme in the series Jeremy finds a developing professionalism in carol singing and writing in the details of a manuscript held by Cambridge University, and he reveals the background of the Coventry carol's mystery play setting. The combination of energetic drama and more refined singing men makes this period a caroling golden age but with clouds on the horizon.

4. Carol Crisis? What Crisis?

In the fourth programme in the series Jeremy describes the impact of the Reformation and later Puritan attitudes to music in general and carols in particular. The development of the Medieval carol may have been arrested but there was never a serious threat to folk caroling and it wasn't long after the Commonwealth that carols, or rather one particular carol, was back in church.

5. The Ghosts of the West Gallery

In the fifth programme of his series telling the story of the Christmas Carol Jeremy Summerly visits Dorchester where Thomas Hardy captured the caroling tradition that had matured through the 17th and 18th century but which faced extinction in the 19th. The West Gallery tradition of musicians and singers in parish churches was an integral part of community life in Hardy's Wessex as elsewhere. Jeremy explains the origins of that tradition and the fuguing carols so beloved at the time and why it was that their days were numbered.

Along with folk musician Tim Laycock he gets to see the carol manuscripts from which Hardy's great grandfather played and sang on Christmas night in 1800.

6. A Second Golden Age

In the sixth part of his story of the Christmas Carol Jeremy Summerly reaches the 19th century and publications of old folk carols from what was thought to be a dying tradition. However, by mid-century, with the Tracterean movement in the Church of England at its height the carol and the singing of carols was once again hugely popular. It was the publication of a 'Christmas Carols New and Old by Henry Ramsden Bramley and John Stainer in 1867, that marked the height of another caroling golden age. However, it was now big business and there were reputations at stake when folk carol collectors saw their work hoovered up by the might of Bramley and Stainer. Jeremy also tells the story of the little 16th century Finnish manual 'Piae Cantiones' that provided a series of memorable re-workings of fifteenth century words and melodies, including In Dulce Jubilo and Good King Wenceslas.

7. Folk Carol Survival and Revival

In the seventh programme in his series describing the gathering history of the Christmas Carol in Great Britain Jeremy Summerly returns to the Gallery tradition that was squeezed out of 19th century Church worship but steadfastly refused to die. It's now in rude health in several parts of the country but nowhere is it more energetically sustained than in South Yorkshire and Derbyshire. With the guidance of Dr Ian Russell who holds folk carol festivals and the enthusiasm of pub carolers who sustain the tradition Jeremy shares a pint and a clutch of fuguing carols which flower happily in the 21st century while having roots in the 18th and 19th.

He also finds out about an American offshoot of the gallery style that's been preserved in the icy blasts of Pennsylvannia USA since it was first seeded there in the middle of the 19th century.

8. The Birth of Nine Lessons with Carols

In the eighth programme of his series charting the development of the Christmas Carol in Britain Jeremy Summerly reaches the critical moment at which the 19th century enthusiasm for carols sung in church resulted in a vehicle in which they could take a leading role. It was developed by Bishop Benson of Truro who, in 1880 found himself holding services in a huge wooden shed while a new cathedral was being built next door. To celebrate the new diocese and capture the enthusiasm he recognise in the nonconformist tradition of carol singing in Cornwall, Benson developed a narrative service running from Adam's original sin to the birth of Christ and the impact of the word made flesh.

Jeremy visits Truro and then follows Benson's service to the moment in 1918 when a war-wearied Dean of King's College Chapel, Cambridge, Erich Milner-White decided to use the service as part of his college's Christmas celebrations. The changes he made survive to this day.

9. Import and Export

The penultimate programme in Jeremy Summerly's series tracing the history of the Christmas Carol in Britain. Jeremy picks up the story in the first half of the 20th century with carols from all over the world becoming more popular in this country much to the irritation of Ralph Vaughan Williams who continued to champion the folk tradition, albeit in a refined choral form. This was a time when the grandeur of Victorian caroling gave way to a leaner aesthetic with the Oxford Book of Carols being published in 1928, the same year in which the BBC broadcast the King's College, Cambridge Nine Lessons and Carols for the very first time. As it became an established favourite the carols used, gathered in many cases over centuries, become known both nationally and indeed internationally.

10. Ring in the New

Jeremy Summerly concludes his history of the carol in Britain pondering the success of new carols over the last century. While King's College, Cambridge organist Stephen Cleobury insures a supply of newly commissioned carols for his massive international audience Jeremy wonders whether the popular songs from Berlin's 'White Christmas' to Slade's 'Merry Christmas' don't help sustain a more genuine caroling tradition.

He also recalls his own first experience of carols at Lichfield cathedral where John Rutter's 'Shepherd's Pipe Carol' was an astonishing discovery for the eager young chorister.

And Jeremy also ponders the continued appeal of the carol and why, while it's been in decline throughout its history, it continues to thrive.

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Traditional and Modern Advent Celebration

The church year began today with the first Sunday of Advent. Dec. 3 is the latest possible day for Advent 1 — producing Advent 4 as the morning before Christmas Day. (The earliest possible Advent 1 is Nov. 27).

Advent Lectionary: the First Four Centuries

As with other aspects of his two prayer books, Thomas Cranmer adapted his lectionary from the Sarum Missal (the Salisbury variant of the Roman Catholic rite). The standard summary of the 1979 US prayer book notes:
Cranmer retained the Sarum lectionary, for the most part, though he made some substitutions, lengthened some lessons and abbreviated a few. (Hatcher, 1995: 325).
Those changes did not included the Advent season. From the first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, today’s communion service for Advent 1 uses the same collect and readings. Using the 1662 spelling of the collects:
ALMIGHTY God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Since 1662, the BCP has stated that the Advent 1 collect “is to be repeated every day, with the other Collects in Advent, until Christmas-Eve.”

Meanwhile, the Advent 1 lessons from 1549 to 1662 remained unchanged with Romans 13:8 and Matthew 21:1-13. Those were the lessons we used this morning out of the 1928 U.S. Book of Common Prayer, when from the NKJV we heard about the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, followed by his driving the moneychangers out of the temple:
Gospel lesson today
at St. Matthew’s Church, Newport
1 Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her. Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of them,’ and immediately he will send them.”

4 All this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying:

5 “Tell the daughter of Zion,
‘Behold, your King is coming to you,
Lowly, and sitting on a donkey,
A colt, the foal of a donkey.’”

6 So the disciples went and did as Jesus commanded them. 7 They brought the donkey and the colt, laid their clothes on them, and set Him on them. 8 And a very great multitude spread their clothes on the road; others cut down branches from the trees and spread them on the road. 9 Then the multitudes who went before and those who followed cried out, saying:

“Hosanna to the Son of David!
‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’
Hosanna in the highest!”

10 And when He had come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, “Who is this?”

11 So the multitudes said, “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee.”

12 Then Jesus went into the temple of God and drove out all those who bought and sold in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who sold doves. 13 And He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you have made it a ‘den of thieves.’”
In his most famous book, Charles Wheatly — an English clergyman and onetime fellow at St. John’s College — wrote:
The Collects for the first and second Sundays in Advent were made new in 1549 being first inserted in the first Book of King Edward VI. That for the third Sunday was added at the Restoration, in the Room of a very short one not so suitable to the time. The Collect for the fourth Sunday is the same with what were meet with in most ancient Office, except that in some of them it is appointed for the first Sunday. (Wheatley, 1770: 209)

The Epistles and Gospels appointed on these Days, are all very ancient and very proper to the Time: They assure us of the Truth of Christ's first Coming; and as a proper means to bring our Lives to a Conformity with the End and Design of it, they recommended to us the Considerations of his second Coming, when he will execute Vengeance on those that obey not his Gospel(s). (Wheatly, 1770: 209; spelling modernized).

The Three Year Lectionary

After Vatican II, the Roman Catholic Church developed a new three-year lectionary for the Sunday readings. This proved the basis of a series of three-year lectionaries over the past 50 years, including two from the ecumenical Consultation on Common Texts: the Common Lectionary (1983) and the Revised Common Lectionary (1992).  The three years are customarily termed Year A (emphasizing readings from Matthew), Year B (emphasizing Mark) and Year C (emphasizing Luke).

For the Episcopal Church, a three year lectionary was used in the 1979 US prayer book, while in 2006 it officially adopted the RCL. Meanwhile, for its new liturgy (beginning in 2013), the ACNA in 2016 adopted its own lectionary based on the 1983 CL rather than the 1992 RCL.

The Matthew 21 reading of 1549 (and 1928) is nowhere to be found in the CL/TEC/RCL/ACNA lectionaries for the Advent Sundays. Instead, they present variations on Christ’s eschatological warnings from the synoptic Gospels. Those using the ACNA lectionary today heard the Advent 1 lesson for Year B, which is Mark 13:24-37. From the ESV:
24 “But in those days, after that tribulation, the sun will be darkened, and the moon will not give its light, 25 and the stars will be falling from heaven, and the powers in the heavens will be shaken. 26 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. 27 And then he will send out the angels and gather his elect from the four winds, from the ends of the earth to the ends of heaven.

28 “From the fig tree learn its lesson: as soon as its branch becomes tender and puts out its leaves, you know that summer is near. 29 So also, when you see these things taking place, you know that he is near, at the very gates. 30 Truly, I say to you, this generation will not pass away until all these things take place. 31 Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

32 “But concerning that day or that hour, no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. 33 Be on guard, keep awake. For you do not know when the time will come. 34 It is like a man going on a journey, when he leaves home and puts his servants in charge, each with his work, and commands the doorkeeper to stay awake. 35 Therefore stay awake—for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or when the rooster crows, or in the morning— 36 lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. 37 And what I say to you I say to all: Stay awake.”
This is the same lesson heard on Advent 1 by ECUSA or others using the RCL (except that the former tend to use the NRSV). Last year, the ACNA used Matthew 24:29-44 (RCL, verses 36-44) in Year A, with Luke 21:25-33 (25-36 for the RCL) next year in Year C. The ACNA’s reading from Luke exactly matches the 1549 (and 1928) Gospel reading for Advent 2.

The Roman Catholic church and most of the liturgical Protestants have stuck with the three year lectionary, which makes that the popular ecumenical option. The exception is the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod, which provides the option of both the three year lectionary (with Mark 13:24-37) or the one year lectionary (Matthew 21:1-9).

However — as with all other liturgical reform — the creation of liturgy committees means that “progress” is an ongoing process without end. Meanwhile, the Continuing Anglican churches (and the Reformed Episcopal Church) retain continuity with more than four centuries of Anglican worship dating back to the 16th century.


Hatcher, Marion J. 1995.  Commentary on the American Prayer Book, New York: HarperOne.

Wheatley, Charles. 1770. A Rational Illustration of the Book of Common Prayer, and Administration of the Sacraments, and Other Rites and Ceremonies of the Church, According to the Use of the Church of England, London: Bettesworth & Rivington. Available at Google books:

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Celebrating Reformation Sunday

Tuesday marks the 500th anniversary of when Martin Luther wrote (and perhaps posted) his 95 Theses in Wittenberg. This anniversary has spurred a range of commemorations, ranging from historical retrospectives to promotions for given church or German tourist destination. Searching Twitter for #ReformationSunday and #Reformation500 showed a range of responses, as well as some angry denunciations of Luther as a heretic. (Last week, Lutheran pastor Peter Burfeind posted “Five Ways to Not Celebrate the Reformation’s Quincentenary,” which he explained in an Issues Etc. interview Friday.)

The Sunday before Oct. 31 is normally the celebration of “Reformation Day,”  In Germany, the actual Reformationstag is a government holiday for five of the 16 German states. In America, judging from my brief Lutheran period, the Sunday observance appeared to be an excuse to schedule (and sing) Luther’s greatest hit.

In honor of the date, I thought I’d briefly review the impact of Lutheran theology and worship upon Anglican hymnody.

Direct Influences

Even Catholics granted Luther’s impact on liturgy: increased use of scripture, scripture and liturgy in the vernacular (in his case German), and a shift away from the liturgy as something done by the priest for the congregation as opposed to something done by all assembled Christians together. As with the Anglicans, many of these translations were in a direct line with medieval Catholic practice, including singing the ordinary in the hearer’s native tongue. Although rejected at the Council of Trent, these principles were largely incorporated into Catholic worship after Vatican II.

Behind his practices, Luther believed that sacred music was a “good gift”, and articulated a theology of music that remains with us today. A few quotes from my recent seminary paper on sacred music.

In the preface to his 1529 Large Catechism, Luther wrote
we should constantly teach [doctrine] and require young people to recite word for word. Do not assume that they will learn and retain this teaching from sermons alone. When these parts have been well learned, you may assign them also some psalms or hymns based on these subjects, to supplement and confirm their knowledge (Leaver, 1992: 132-133). 
In his preface to a 1545 hymnal compilation, Luther wrote:
There is then a better service in the New Testament whereof the Psalm [96] speaks, ‘Sing unto the Lord a new song; sing to the Lord all the earth.’ For God hath made our heart and mind joyful, through his dear Son whom he hath given for us, to redeem us from sin, death and the devil. He who earnestly believes this can not but sing and speak thereof, with joy and delight, that others also may hear and come (Lambert, 1917: 15).

Lutheran Hymns

In thinking about (and pulling down books from my library on) early Lutheran hymn writers, a few 16th and 17th century names come to mind:
Many of these (particularly Praetorius) wrote their own tunes. Other accompanying tunes include those by 
  • Johann Crüger (1598-1662): the tunes to “Ah, holy Jesus” and (what we sang this Sunday) “Deck thyself, my soul, with gladness”
  • Hans Leo Hassler (1564-1612): the tune to “O sacred head sore wounded” 
  • Melchior Teschner (1584-1635): the tune to “All Glory, Laud and Honor”
No discussion of German hymnody would be complete without the great Lutheran Kapellmeister, J.S. Bach, who contributed more tunes to Hymnal 1940 than the entire Wesley family (and as many as Vaughan Williams, music editor of The English Hymnal).

Of course, there were also Scandinavian (and later American) Lutheran hymn writers, but (AFAIK) they had less direct impact on the Anglican church, and more impact on American Protestant hymnody through immigration and cultural borrowing.

Our Great Mediatrix

No discussion of the Anglican use of Lutheran hymnody would be complete without mentioning Catherine Wikworth (1827-1878), the author of several hundred translations from German, particularly from her Lyra Germanica.

In his late 19th century encyclopedia of hymns, John Julian (1892: 1287) wrote:
Miss Winkworth, although not the earliest of modern translators from the German into English, is certainly the foremost in rank and popularity. Her translations are the most widely used of any from that language, and have had more to do with the modern revival of the English use of German hymns than the versions of any other writer.
She is credited with nine translations in The English Hymnal (1906), seven in Hymnal 1940, ten in Hymnal 1982 — and even four in Worship III (1986), the third edition of the popular post-Vatican II American Catholic hymnals.


The influence of Luther and his followers on Anglican church music over the past five centuries seems like it could be the subject of a Ph.D. dissertation, although I am thus far unaware of any such thesis. Still, Luther’s ideas of singing in the vernacular, using texts to teach, and making singing accessible to the masses permanently changed the role of music in the Christian church. For that, all Western Christians can be grateful.


Julian, John, Dictionary of Hymnology,  New York: Scribner’s Sons, 1892

Lambert, James Franklin, Luther’s Hymns. Philadelphia: General Council Publication House, 1917.

Leaver, Robin A., “The Chorale: Transcending Time and Culture.” Concordia Theological Quarterly 56, 2-3 (1992): 123-144.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Future of the Continuing Anglican church

This month’s Jt. Synod was a historic event for the Continuing Anglican movement, after four decades of both standing on Anglo-Catholic principles and also seemingly endless schism. The hope is that this event — and the intercommunion agreement announced there — will mark the eventual reunification of the Continuing churches into a single jurisdiction, as originally envisioned 40 years ago.

The history of the Continuing movement is recounted in The Day-Spring from on High, a first person memoir published earlier this year by the Rt. Rev. Paul Hewett. Bp. Hewett was involved in the movement since the beginning and since 2006 has been bishop of the Diocese of the Holy Cross. The book was for sale at the synod — while I bought mine in Kindle format in July, after meeting and sitting with Bp. Hewett at this summer’s Forward in Faith assembly.

How We Got Here

In September 1977, nearly 2,000 Anglicans gathered at the Congress of St. Louis to reject doctrinal changes recently approved by the Episcopal Church in the United States of America. The following January 28, four new bishops were consecrated in a ceremony led by retired ECUSA bishop Albert Chambers. As Hewett explained:
We divided the United States into four quadrants, such that Robert Morse was consecrated for the Pacific West, James Mote for the Rocky Mountain States, Peter Watterson for the Southeast, and Dale Doren for the Northeast. 
However, conflicts soon arose among the four men. Hewett continued:
In October of 1978, the Anglican Church in North America had a Synod in Dallas, Texas, to vote on canons and a new name. The fault line that had been widening finally broke open. One side would call itself the Anglican Catholic Church, led by Bishops Mote and Doren. The other side consisted of two Dioceses, Christ the King, and the Southeast, led by Bishops Robert Morse and Peter Watterson.
The two factions eventually split. Today, the Continuing Anglican jurisdictions formed after St. Louis include:
  • 1978: Anglican Catholic Church (ACC), founded by Doren and Mote
  • 1978: Anglican Province of Christ the King (APCK), founded by Morse; meanwhile, Watterson later left for the Roman Catholic Church
  • 1981: United Episcopal Church of North America (UECNA), founded by Doren after splitting from the ACC
  • 1991: Anglican Church in America (ACA), formed by splitting from the ACC and joining with the American Episcopal Church (established 1968 by splitting from ECUSA)
  • 1992: Episcopal Missionary Church (EMC) formed from the ECUSA
  • 1995: Anglican Province of America (APA), formed by splitting from the ACA
  • The Diocese of the Holy Cross (DHC) (according to Hewett’s book) separated from ECUSA in 1989, joined the EMC, left the EMC for the APCK in 1995, then left the APCK in 2003 to become an independent diocese
At one point or another, all were involved or represented in the Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen (FCC, est. 1973), and most in the Federation of Anglican Churches in the Americas (FACA, est. 2006). Additional insight into the first three decades of the Continuum can be found in a 2009 conference paper by longtime FCC president Wally Spaulding.

Reunification: Now and Future

On October 6, the ACA, ACC, APA and DHC signed an intercommunion agreement. They have announced plans to move towards full ecclesial integration, including common canons, hierarchies and merged dioceses. These jurisdictions share the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, and a common understanding of Holy Orders (i.e. opposition to women’s ordination).

As participants (unofficially) acknowledged, this cooperation was made possible by the retirement of the first generation of Continuing bishops. In Bp. Hewett’s book, these clergy come across as charismatic, visionary and stubborn — none more so than Bp. Morse (1924-2015), his former mentor and head of the APCK from 1978-2008.

The “G-4” (as they call themselves today) represent 217 parishes in the U.S., according to a joint prayer list posted in February.  Other major non-ECUSA Anglican groupings in the US include:
  • Within the Continuing jurisdictions, the G-4 have prioritized three jurisdictions totaling 94 parishes: the APCK with 43, the EMC with 26, and the UECNA with 25 parishes (according to their current websites). The FCC website lists numerous other smaller jurisdictions, including the American Anglican Church, Anglican Church International Communion, Anglican Orthodox Church and United Anglican Church. 
  • The largest grouping of Anglicans in the US and Canada outside ECUSA is the Anglican Church in North America, formed in 2009 which (according to Wikipedia) had 1,019 parishes in June 2017. It has its own liturgy, a modified version of the 1979 Rite II. Overall, the majority of dioceses do not (today) ordain women, but disagreements over this practice have been a source of tension within the ACNA.
  • Within the ACNA, approximately 150 parishes are members of the Reformed Episcopal Church (REC, est. 1873). The REC has much in common with the G-4 churches: it is a member of FACA, has many parishes that use the 1928 BCP (while others use their own prayer book similar to the 1928 BCP), and it shares a common view of women’s ordination. However, its history emphasized a more Presbyterian (i.e. Reformed) view of Anglicanism — as do numerous REC parishes today — explicitly rejecting the Anglo-Catholic movement.
  • Other non-ECUSA jurisdictions include the Anglican Mission in the Americas (AMiA) and the Charismatic Episcopal Church (CEC), but neither use the 1928 BCP or could be conceivably considered to be Anglo-Catholic.
These churches both cooperate and compete for attention, parishioners and resources. The biggest challenge for consolidation of the Continuing Anglican churches is the proliferation of purple shirts, suggesting that some changes may depend on retirements of the existing bishops.

Still, there is no denying that the Continuing movement is now more unified and coherent than at any time since 1978. We pray that this cooperation continues to grow, strengthening the traditional Anglican alternatives to ECUSA.

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Continuing Anglican Liturgy in Atlanta

Liturgy was at the center of this month’s Jt. Synod of four major Continuing Anglican jurisdictions — the ACA, ACC, APA and DHC. My own experience suggested both the potential and challenges of integrating this “G-4” in terms of practice, if not ecclesiology.

The heart of the Jt. Synod was the intercommunion agreement signed by the G-4 bishops, followed by a joint mass. But long before Atlanta, Continuing Anglicans have been defined by the Congress of St. Louis, their use of the 1928 BCP and rejection of the 1979 prayer book, one the late Peter Toon termed a “Book of Alternative Services.”

G-4 jurisdictions represented at this month’s Joint Synod both agreed to intercommunion, and also repeatedly worshipped together One of the things I enjoy most about'

Joint Worship at the Joint Synod

The culmination of the Jt. Synod was the “Solemn High Mass for Christian Unity” on Friday October 6. However, it was proceeded by twice daily services from October 2-5, with each day beginning with a Morning Prayer and Mass, and ending with an Evening Prayer. The worship took place in one of the hotel ballrooms, with an altar set up on a raised platform. The earlier services had a capacity of around 250 people, while for the high mass, the capacity was more like 750 (I guessed about 400-500 were in attendance).
Evening Prayer, Wednesday October 4
Fighting jet lag after the trip from California, I was unaware of the Wednesday MP, but attended the Wednesday EP, Thursday MP & Mass and joined the opening hymn of the Thursday EP. The jurisdictions took turn leading these services — the last three being led by the APA, the ACA, and the DHC. (I have uploaded scans of these service booklets for posterity).

Insights into Congregational Practice

There are often variations in the congregational practices of any liturgical church between parishes. These are generally smoothed out over time, as people get used to the culture and other norms of their home parish. Thus, joint worship with no dominant constituency highlights some of the differences in practice — and, I would argue, some of the challenges faced by newcomers to traditional Anglican worship.

We were told to bring our prayer books — but for the Daily Office a slight majority of us were reciting the familiar prayers from memory. (I would guess for communion it was over 80%). Prayer books were not needed for the closing High Mass, which had a detailed nine-page as well as a ten-page musical insert.

The greatest confusion was over standing, sitting and kneeling. There were times when the congregation was split among all three. As in other churches, the degree of kneeling was greatest on key prayers — such as on the confession. Also — as in many storefront churches — I suspect that the kneeling (on the hotel carpet) was less than might have happened if there were pews and kneelers. Still, for the psalm at the Wednesday EP, many of us remained standing until we noticed that so many others were sitting.

Another interesting variation was the congregational response bracketing the reading of the Gospel, which (fortunately for those of us who go to ACNA or FIFNA events), includes the same “Glory be to thee, O Lord” beforehand and “Praise be to thee, O Christ” afterward. The rubric in the 28 BCP (p. 70) says
Then, all the People standing, the Minister appointed shall read the Gospel, first saying, The Holy Gospel is written in the — Chapter of —, beginning at the — Verse.
Communion at the October 5 morning service.
Some in the congregation started the “Glory be” before the introduction was completed — suggesting at their parishes the deacon omits the chapter and verse — and perhaps even the author of the Gospel.

While the congregation was consistent in making than the threefold sign of the cross before the Gospel, there was also significant variation in the bowing and crossing at other times during the service. Lacking a communion rail, the Eucharist was (of necessity) administered standing up, although some clergy (or seminarians) knelt on the carpet — either to receive the elements or because (at least in the final service) they were being administered by the princes of the church.

Variations in the Liturgy

The worship reflected many common variations among 28 BCP parishes. Perhaps the most theologically significant is the Gloria, which in the service — as in the BCP — was recited after the Eucharist. In Rite I (of the 79 prayer book), the Gloria is said near the beginning, immediately after the Kyrie; this is also the practice of our parish (and many other California 28 BCP parishes).

Another variation is in the Prayer of Humble Access and post-communion prayer, which the 28 BCP commands to be said by the priest, but are congregational prayers in the 1979 prayer book. Many 28 parishes have adopted the latter practice — which I believe to be an improvement — and this is also what we did at the Thursday morning mass. I am guessing this practice must be common, because the booklet for Friday’s mass says “Celebrant Only” after the Prayer of Humble Access.

After carefully following the prayer book, the High Mass included two non-prayer book additions that seem common at Anglo-Catholic parishes. One was the threefold prayer “Lord I am not worthy” that references the centurion’s statement of faith in Matthew 8:8. While the prayer is a standard element of the Roman rite (Domine, non sum dignus), and also included in early 20th century “Anglo-Papalist” practice in England, it does not appear anywhere in the 28 BCP.

The High Mass also included the Last Gospel (John 1:1-14) of the Roman rite, but read in King James English rather than the Latin of the Tridentine Mass.

Finally, most of the services I attended did not use an altar bell, but it wasn’t clear whether it’s because they didn’t have one, they didn’t have an acolyte ready to ring it, or they didn’t believe it was an appropriate practice.  Although common in today’s Anglo-Catholic parishes, it’s nowhere mentioned in the BCP, but rather a medieval Roman practice codified in the Tridentine Mass and largely abandoned after Vatican II. (As a musician, I happen to like the sound — and also missed it because because at our parish the second bell helps signal when we should cross ourselves).

Unity in Ecclesiology and Worship

The G-4 are working towards a common hierarchy, one they hope will eventually include other groups as well. The Continuing churches are united by a common liturgy, even more so than the Anglicans going back to Cranmer’s day, but the reality is that today there are numerous deviations from the nearly 90-year-old American BCP. It seems as though most of these differences could be handled (for now) by supplemental rubrics.

In doing so, I think it would also good to write down and disseminate congregational practices such as standing, kneeling, crossing, ringing and genuflecting. Over the long haul, I'm hoping that parishes will indicate these into the seat booklets, particularly since word process and web pages can easily include unicode symbols (e.g. ✠, ✣) that are instantly recognizable and self-explanatory. Certainly agreeing on a supplemental document would be a better way to kick off a joint committee on liturgy than to start with the more complex (and contentious) issue of a prayer book revision.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Reflections on the 2017 Joint Synod

Last week I attended the Joint Synod of four Continuing Anglican jurisdictions, held Oct. 2-6 in Dunwoody, an Atlanta suburb. The complete program is uploaded here.

The event was timed to a few weeks after the 40th anniversary of the Congress of St. Louis, the largest of the 20th century schisms from the Episcopal Church. The 1977 congress created an Anglican Church in New America — followed by the 1978 consecration of the first four continuing Bishops by Albert Chambers. But the groups fractured repeatedly over the next decades, showing that (as often in the last 500 years) Protestants have demonstrated a unique talent for fragmenting.

Joint Communion Agreement

This month’s event featured four of the seven major continuing (pre-80s schism) Anglican groups: the Anglican Church in America, the Anglican Catholic Church, the Anglican Province of America and the Diocese of the Holy Cross.

The most significant event was the formal agreement for intercommunion, which stated:
We acknowledge each other to be orthodox and catholic Anglicans in virtue of our common adherence to the authorities accepted by and summarized in the Affirmation of St. Louis in the faith of the Holy Tradition of the undivided Catholic Church and of the seven Ecumenical Councils.

We recognize in each other in all essentials the same faith; the same sacraments; the same moral teaching; and the same worship; likewise, we recognize in each other the same Holy Orders of bishops, priests, and deacons in the same Apostolic Succession, insofar as we all share the episcopate conveyed to the Continuing Churches in Denver in January 1978 in response to the call of the Congress of Saint Louis; therefore,

We welcome members of all of our Churches to Holy Communion and parochial life in any and all of the congregations of our Churches; and,

We pledge to pursue full, institutional, and organic union with each other, in a manner that respects tender consciences, builds consensus and harmony, and fulfills increasingly our Lord’s will that His Church be united; and,

We pledge also to seek unity with other Christians, including those who understand themselves to be Anglican, insofar as such unity is consistent with the essentials of Catholic faith, order, and moral teaching.
The heads of the four groups stood Friday after signing of the agreement.
Rt. Rev. Paul C. Hewett (DHC), Most Rev. Walter H. Grundorf (APA),
Most Rev. Mark D. Haverland (ACC) and Most Rev. Brian R. Marsh (ACA). Photo by J. West
and a video of the ceremony can be found on YouTube.

Rev. Clendenin
Photo by J. West
Other aspects of the joint synod included joint worship all week, and a closing high mass after the intercommunion agreement. A joint dinner on Thursday night featured a speech by Fr. George , who recounted the highlight of his career, his role in the 1977 Congress. A video of his talk was recorded and posted by Anglican.TV.

News Coverage

Despite its historic nature, there was surprisingly little coverage. There were brief articles on Virtue Online and Anglican Ink. By comparison, almost any story about the ACNA — about 5x-6x larger — gets widespread coverage in the US Anglican media.

Anglican.TV recorded a joint press conference with the four leaders. Perhaps even more insight can be gained from the audio recorded by Quad City Anglican Radio — a podcast by two Anglo-Catholic leaning ACNA priests. Their interviews included Bp. Hewett, PB Marsh, as well as pre-recorded interview with Bp. Chad Jones (APA), whose Dunwood parish (St. Barnabas) co-hosted the conference with Abp. Haverland’s Athens cathedral (St. Stephen’s).

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.


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)


  • 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 ( — 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, 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, 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, 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, it appears in more than 700 hymnals, and it is a familiar hymn at the CHC.


  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:

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 sing “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


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!


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, 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


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.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Luke, John and Zechariah

June 24 is the Nativity of St. John the Baptist, in the Anglican, Lutheran and Roman Catholic calendars of saints’ days. Because the Annunciation takes place when Elizabeth’s pregnancy is six months along, the Western church traditionally dates John’s birth six months before Jesus.

This week, Issues Etc. reran an hour-long show on this feast day — a 2016 interview with Pastor David Peterson, an LCMS pastor from Ft. Wayne, Indiana. Although the Anglican and Lutheran liturgies are different, most of the points are applicable to Anglican liturgy as well.

There are many elements of the life of John — and Jesus — that are only told in the first two chapters of Luke. This includes three key canticles of the traditional liturgy: the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), Benedictus (1:68-79) and Nunc Dimittis (2:29-32) — respectively the songs of Mary, Zechariah and Simeon.

The Benedictus, of course, is what Zechariah says at the ceremony that names (and circumcises) John. While the 1549 BCP is derived from the Coverdale (and Tyndale) translations, the same similarities can be seen in more modern spelling in the 1662 and KJV
Benedictus (BCP 1662) Luke 1:68-79 (KJV)
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel: for he hath visited and redeemed his people;
And he hath raised up a mighty salvation for us: in the house of his servant David;
As he spoke by the mouth of his holy Prophets: which have been since the world began;
That we should be saved from our enemies: and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fore-fathers: and to remember his holy covenant;
To perform the oath which he sware to our forefather Abraham: that he would give us;
That we being delivered out of the hands of our enemies: might serve him without fear;
In holiness and righteousness before him: all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people: for the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God: whereby the Day-spring from on high hath visited us;
To give light to them that sit in darkness, and in the shadow of death: to guide our feet into the way of peace.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost;
As it was in the beginning, is now: and ever shall be, world without end. Amen
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people,
And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David;
As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us;
To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant;
The oath which he sware to our father Abraham,
That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear,
In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.
And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;
To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,
Through the tender mercy of our God; whereby the dayspring from on high hath visited us,
To give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.
As the the New Advent encyclopedia states
The whole canticle naturally falls into two parts. The first (verses 68-75) is a song of thanksgiving for the realization of the Messianic hopes of the Jewish nation; but to such realization is given a characteristically Christian tone. As of old, in the family of David, there was power to defend the nation against their enemies, now again that of which they had been so long deprived, and for which they had been yearning, was to be restored to them, but in a higher and spiritual sense. …

The second part of the canticle is an address by Zachary to his own son, who was to take so important a part in the scheme of the Redemption; for he was to be a prophet, and to preach the remission of sins before the coming or the Orient, or Dawn, from on high.
According to the New Advent encyclopedia, it was Benedict who added this canticle to the morning office (lauds) in the 6th century. In Cranmer’s original 1549 BCP, the Benedictus was the only canticle available after the second lesson of Matins. The 1552 BCP — Cranmer’s final prayer book before his execution— gives a choice of the Benedictus or the Jubilate Deo (from Psalm 100); this pattern continues into the 1559 and 1662 BCP, as well as the US prayer books from 1789 to 1928. (The 1979 prayer book, as is its wont, gives a choice of 21 canticles after either reading).

As a choirboy (prior to H82 and the 1979 prayer book), we sang morning prayer every other Sunday, and the words of the Jubilate Deo are etched in my brain; for the Jubilate Tune 645, the F-major chant by William Russell (1777-1813) seems the most familiar. It’s rare nowadays that I see a sung morning prayer, but if I were to pick a sung Benedictus, it would be #634, the G major chant by James Turle (1802-1882).

The podcast made one additional point. Zechariah (like his wife) is from the priestly line of Aaron. When Zechariah meets Gabriel in the temple, he lost his ability to speak for doubting the angel. According to Pastor Peterson, this means that he cannot finish the service, which would have concluded with the Benediction of Aaron (which is also called the Priestly Blessing) from Numbers 6:24-27:
The Lord bless thee, and keep thee:
The Lord make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee:
The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.
And they shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.
As Pr. Peterson reminded me — from my Missouri Synod days — this benediction is the closing prayer of the LCMS Holy Communion service. A quick check of my bookcase shows this benediction closes the Divine Service both in the 1941 and 2006 LCMS hymnals, as well as the 1978 LCA hymnal. In American Anglican liturgy, this benediction can be found in the Rite I Evening Prayer in the 1979 prayer book — but it is dropped in the ACNA draft liturgy (which most often follows Rite II in form and wording).