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.

Conclusions

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.

References

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.

References

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

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Hymns for Trinity 9

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

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

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

9th Sunday after Trinity (Holy Communion)

Readings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sermon: 536, “Turn back O man”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Footnotes

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

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Come, let us sing!

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

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

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

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

So there were at least two key lessons:
  • For most churches and most occasions, more music should be sung by the congregation than by the choir alone. That often means two really great and elaborate anthems, and then three hymns plus service music where the congregation can sing along.
  • If the congregation is asked (or expects) to sing along, don’t trick them. For example, if we 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

Text

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

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

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

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

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

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

Usage

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

Tunes

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

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

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

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

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).

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Farewell, Oremus

At a sacred music class last month, we compared notes about favorite websites for Anglican church music. I think Oremus was at the top of the list.

Alas, that was past tense. For a term paper (for this class), I went to Oremus to look up hymns from my favorite hymnal, and found this sad notice:
Started in 1997, the Oremus Hymnal is no more as May 30, 2017 due to copyright concerns. As I do not have the time or interest to update hundreds of webpages, I have taken the long overdue step of closing down this site. I am sorry that the material here will no longer be available here, but in the over two decades since starting this project, many other, excellent sites have become available. Google Books also has hundreds of historical hymnals available to browse for free.

If you need further help finding hymns, I suggest you go to Hymnary.org, which contains many more texts and audio files than I could ever hope to produce on my own.

Due to many requests, I have put the hymn suggestions for the lectionary back up. None of the links work, but they do list the first lines.
Lectionary Year A
Lectionary Year B
Lectionary Year C
This site was created by Steve Benner and was last modified on May 30, 2017.
On the one hand, I can sympathize with Steve, having created a much simpler website (on a different topic) the same year. Rather than a single guy, Hymnary.org has behind it the resources of Calvin College and its Calvin Instiute of Christian Worship.

From a legal standpoint, it should have been possible to include U.S. hymnals prior to 1923. British copyright law seems to provide 50 years after the death of the author (which means The English Hymnal and other Vaughan Williams has been available almost a decade). But again, I still understand why it wasn’t worth separating the wheat from the chaff.

There is one other reason I go to Oremus: the Liturgical Psalter, a little-known (but beautiful) translation whose licensing rights reverted to the authors in 2001. It's almost as poetic as the Coverdale psalter (found in most prayer books of the past 400 years), and a lot easier to understand.

Still, the index of dozens of Anglican hymnals at Oremus will be missed. I’m not sure if Hymnary can fully replace it, but that's a question for another time.



Monday, May 29, 2017

Another progressive theological innovation

Mainline Protestantism Declared A Safe Space For Those Offended By The Gospel
The Babylon Bee
May 25, 2016

LOUISVILLE, KY — … Speaking on behalf of [mainline] Protestant denominations… a spokesperson issued the following statement: “We are in agreement that there is a great need for churches to rise up and create spaces that are safe for questioning and accepting our identities, doubts, fears, failures, and blatant sins. Effective immediately, we are declaring all mainline Protestant churches safe spaces, where there are no judgments, conviction, repentance, or gospel presentations whatsoever.”''

The statement listed elements that safe space churches should remove from their premises, including “crosses, Bibles, pulpits, organs, hymnals, systematic theologies, and sermons exhibiting any form of triggering micro-aggression. Be considerate.” Words like “sin,” “hell,” “death,” “wrath,” “propitiation,” and “substitutionary atonement” are also on the ban list.

On behalf of all of mainline Protestantism, the spokesperson expressed heartfelt joy that they were able to make such a major step toward accepting—and not judging—anyone who may be on a path toward God’s judgment. …

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Ecumenical funeral music

Over the weekend, I went to the funeral of an old friend of my father’s. He was both younger than my dad (by 13 years) and died at an older age (81 vs. 90), so I went to represent my father’s gratitude to someone who’d been very good to him.

The title of the church didn’t make it obvious, but in the pews the hymnals were embossed “First Assembly of God” which made this the first time I’d ever attended an Assembly of God service. (The local AoG church had rented its space in the past to the ACNA, and I’ve seen AoG televangelists on TV, but never actually attended a worship service). The preaching and use of the Bible matched my expectations (and I mean that in positive way).

The hymnal (Sing His Praise,  Gospel Publishing House, 1991), was little used by those attendees (two of us pulled it out), as the church had long since converted to praise band and projection screens. The drums were at the center of the stage, behind a plexiglass shield, for the next day’s performance worship music.

There was no choir, only a pianist. Other than her prelude and postlude, the music consisted of
  • “That Will be Glory,” solo by one of the pastors
  • “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” instrumental trio
  • “It is Well with my Soul” (#112, verses 1,3,4), sung by the congregation. It had the familiar harmony so in the refrain, I was able to do the men’s part in response to the upper (and unison) voices.
  • “How Great Thou Art” (#9, verses 1,3,4), sung by the congregation but interrupted by the pastor to make a point prior to the final verse
The pianist knew what she was doing. The pastor seemed to think changes in tempo made his singing more dramatic, which worked for the solo but not when he was leading 150 voices in singing. This approach to singing the music is undoubtably a local practice that would have been familiar to the many parishioners in attendance; I found it unfamiliar if not slightly confusing. 

It made me think that if you have a service with a large number of visitors — given how rarely non-Christians attend baptisms nowadays, that would mean a wedding or funeral — it's not just the choice of hymns (including tunes and words) that will make a difference on congregational participation. It’s also the style of performance.

Finally, it reinforced my prior prejudices: if you are going to have Christians in the room who are used to singing hymns, three hymns is the minimum and four is better. Those in attendance sang with gusto, and I think would have welcomed more verses if not more hymns.

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Singing ancient Easter testimonies

Theologically, Easter is the greatest Christian feast, the culmination of the Christian year. It is also a great opportunity for mission, since it's one of the two Sundays where C&E Anglicans (or Catholics or Lutherans) will darken the church doors.

Thus it's not surprising that most churches schedule good hymns for Easter, as our Anglo-Catholic church did this morning, and at the blended service at daughter's college parish. And of course -- next to Christmas — there is the embarrassment of riches: 18 hymns (some with multiple tunes) in The English Hymnal, 17 hymns (three with multiple tunes) in Hymnal 1940, and 33 hymns (7 with multiple tunes) in Hymnal 1982.

Still, today I was struck that all four of the hymns sung at our Anglo-Catholic church were derived from Latin and Greek texts that trace back to  the pre-Reformation undivided church. I was also struck — not surprisingly given the original sources — the debt we owe to John Mason Neale for being able to sing them today.

Procession: Hail thee festival day! (H40: 86; H82: 175)

We sang all nine verses, alternating (as written) between women and men. It is based on the 6th century Latin text, “Salve festa dies,” by Venantius Honorius Fortunatus (b. 530-600/609), making it one of the oldest hymns in Anglican hymnody.

The texts have been translated multiple times since the 16th century. This version begins with Hymn 624 of The English Hymnal (1906) with the now-familiar tune Salva festa dies by music editor Ralph Vaughan Williams. The Hymnal 1940 Companion credits the H40 version to Hymn 389 of Songs of Praise, Enlarged Edition (1931). While SOPEE alternates between the two tunes, the idea of alternating verses between women and men seems to have originated with H40.

Gradual: The Day of Resurrection (H40: 96.1; H82: 210)

We sang three verses to the first tune, the middle verse in harmony; Hymnal 1982 also lists a descant. The 8th century Greek text is by St. John of Damascus.. Our hymnals use the translation by John Mason Neale from his Hymns of the Eastern Church (1862), a text that entered the ECUSA hymnary with its Hymnal 1874. The tune Ellacombe is from an 18th century German Catholic hymnal.

Communion: At the Lamb's high feast we sing (H40: 89; H82: 174)

Although I've sung this before, somehow I never really appreciated it. The Latin text is from the Roman Breviary created for Urban VIII (pope 1623-1644), but can be traced back to the 6th century text “Ad cenam Agni providi.” The 1850 translation is by Robert Campbell.

It is uniquely suited as the Easter communion hymn, and as the first of the four verses explain:
At the Lamb's high feast we sing
praise to our victorious King,
who hath washed us in the tide
flowing from his pierced side;
praise we him, whose love divine
gives his sacred Blood for wine,
gives his Body for the feast,
Christ the victim, Christ the priest.
Even better, is the 17th century tune Salzburg (best known for “Songs of thankfulness and praise” H40: 53). I enjoyed singing the middle two verses of the four-part harmony by J. S. Bach, a harmonization that in my book is hard to beat.

Recessional: Jesus Christ is Risen today (H40: 85; H82: 207)

As I texted our daughter this morning, the 1st commandment of Anglican hymn selection is to end on an upbeat tune. At Easter time, this seems eminently well suited.

For the recessional, we sang all four verses: 2nd and 3rd in harmony, 4th unison with descant. Hymnal 1982 also lists a descant from the 1950 edition of Hymns Ancient & Modern.

The 14th century text, Surrexit Christus hodie, has been translated multiple times since 1708. The H40 hymnal companion attributes the current version of the tune to a compilation by John Wesley and the final addition to the text to Charles Wesley.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Exemplary Passion anthem

Hymns for Palm Sunday and the Passion narrative tend to focus on Jesus’ procession into Jerusalem. However, in choir we are rehearsing “Ihr Töchter Zions”:
Ihr Töchter Zions, weint über euch selbst und über eure Kinder.
Denn siehe, es wird die Zeit kommen,
da werdet ihr sagen zu den Bergen: fallt über uns!
Und zu den Hügeln: deckt uns!
It is from Felix Mendelssohn’s sacred oratorio, Christus, Op. 97. The anthem is in triple meter and it feels like one of Mendelssohn’s dances or songs, with the lyric passages plaintive in Christ’s warning to the citizens of Jerusalem.

On Thursday, we are singing it in English translation:
Daughters of Zion, weep for yourselves and your children,
For surely the days are coming,
when they shall exclaim to the mountains: “Fall down on us!”
and to the hills: “hide us!”
The text is adapted from Luke 23:26-28 (KJV):
26. But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children.
27. For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck.
28. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.
This is the passage (only in Luke) of the passion, after Jesus has been condemned by Pilate but before he arrives at Calvary.

The phrase “Daughters of Zion” does not appear in Luke, but does appear earlier in the passion narrative upon Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem — in Matthew (21:5) and John (12:15) — both quoting Zechariah 9:9 and Isaiah 62:11.

The reading shows up in the lectionary differently among Anglican prayer books. In the 1928 BCP, it’s the gospel for the Maundy Thursday mass, as it was in the 1662 BCP.

From 1979 onward, ECUSA (and the ACNA) have read Luke 23 the same way in their parallel three year lectionaries: the 1979 prayer book, RCL, and ACNA trial use. In all three, Luke 23 appears in the Sunday lectionary on Palm Sunday Year C (2016 and 2019).

Whenever this gospel is read, this Mendelssohn piece seems like a great anthem to support that reading.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The world’s favorite Annunciation hymn

Today’s date, March 25, is nine months before Christmas, and thus the traditional date the Church celebrates the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. There is controversy (between the most Catholic and Reformed extremes) over the role of Mary in the church, nonetheless creedal Christians acknowledge the saviour who “was incarnate by the Holy Ghost of the Virgin Mary.” Our knowledge of the Annunciation comes from the Gospel of St. Luke, as one of the events Mary pondered in her heart and later recounted to Luke.

Issues Etc. on Friday presented the Luther perspective on the Annunciation, in an interview with the LCMS Director of Worship, Pastor Will Weedon. In honor of the day, the LCMS radio station (Lutheran Public Radio) is playing Christmas music all day today.

As Pastor Weedon points out, it’s hard for the church to celebrate a joyous feast when it falls in the middle of Lent or especially — as in 2016 — when it falls on Good Friday. As he also notes, this is a case when it’s fortunate if a church’s midweek service lands on this feast, since (under both Anglican and Lutheran liturgical calendars) no feasts are transferred to the Sundays of Lent.

The Annunciation is called out in the 1662 Book of Common Prayer as one of 25 major feasts of the CoE, and remains on the shorter list in the current CoE liturgical calendar. The 1928 Book of Common Prayer retains the same list of 25 fixed Holy Days. The new ACNA liturgical calendar seems clearer than the 1662 in that it distinguishes between seven principal feasts (Epiphany, Easter, Ascension, Pentecost, Trinity, All Saints’, Christmas) that take precedence over 16 Holy Days (including the Annunciation).

Today’s collect in the 1662 (and 1928) BCP links the Annunciation to the incarnation, passion and resurrection of our Lord:
We beseech thee, O Lord, pour thy grace into our hearts; that, as we have known the incarnation of thy Son Jesus Christ by the message of an angel, so by his cross and passion we may be brought unto the glory of his resurrection; through the same Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymns for The Annunciation

Hymnal 1940 lists two hymns for this date and recommends three others
  • 117 “Sing of Mary, pure and lowly”
  • 118 “Praise we the Lord this day”
  • 317 “A message came to a maiden young”
  • 418 “Blest are the pure in heart”
  • 599 “Ye watchers and you holy ones”
Hymnal 1982 has a longer list
  • 263, 264 “The Word whom earth and sea and sky adore” (from Hymns Ancient & Modern)
  • 265 “The angel Gabriel from heaven came,” the famous Basque carol that was also featured in the Issues Etc broadcast (and is #356 in the current Lutheran Service Book)
  • 266 “Gabriel of high degree,” a new hymn translation by Carl Daw
  • 267 “Praise we the Lord this day, from an 1846 CoE hymnal
  • 268, 269 “Ye who claim the faith of Jesus,” an early 20th century text; the first with a new tune by David Hurd
  • 270 “Gabriel's message does away,” a translation of a Latin text from J.M. Neale’s 1853 Carols for Christmastide
Despite my frequent criticisms of Hymnal 1982, it has consistently done a better job of making available hymns for these Holy Days. In this case, it corrects the omission by Hymnal 1940 of the world’s best known Annunciation/Christmas carol.

The Angel Gabriel From Heaven Came

The text is a paraphrase of a Basque text by Sabine Baring-Gould (1834-1924), a Cambridge grad, choral director and later Anglican churchman. His best known hymn is “Onward, Christian soldiers.”

Because it has only recently (late 20th century) entered into the standard repertory and hymnals, I have not been able to find mention of the hymn in a reliable hymnal companion such as Ian Bradley’s Book of Hymns or those for the Lutheran Book of Worship or Lutheran Worship. (The explanation in the 1990s Presbyterian Hymnal companion is characteristically sketchy).

Wikipedia — that source of eternal truth — credits the Basque original to Charles Bordes (but doesn’t list an original publication date). It also says the current arrangement was first published “by Edgar Pettman in his 1892 book Modern Christmas Carols.” However, there is no mention of this carol in the version of the book archived by Google Scholar. CPDL has various Basque and English versions, appearing to rely on the Wikipedia explanation. The wonderful YouTube performance of the carol by King’s College Cambridge credits Pettman (1866-1943) as the arranger. 

I finally found it explained in The New Oxford Book of Carols (1992), an indispensable resource alongside the original The Oxford Book of Carols (1928). I quote from the former (pp. 641-642):
One of the best-known Basque carols in England. It was collected by Charles Bordes and appeared at the beginning of his volume Douze Noëls populaires in the series Archives de la traditional basque (1895), to which he also contributed the volume Dix Cantiques populaires basques.

…His publication stands head and shoulder above similar collections, and remains a primary source. The melodies are unharmonized, and the texts are edited by J.F. Larrien, who also provided French prose translations.

Whatever the provenance of ‘Birjina gaztettobat zegoen’ and ‘Oi Betleem!’, the texts are sophisticated literary productions, presumably by a Basque cleric. Perhaps they are from a publication (of the eighteenth century?) which caught the public imagination, and came to be sung to folk tunes; or, as in the usual French tradition, perhaps the texts were written to fit existing folk-song melodies. …

… R.R Terry set a number of items (including the present one and ‘Oi Betleem’), and George Oldroyd set the entire volume, both composers using English translations. But it was Pettman’s settings of ‘Birjina’ and ‘Oi Betleem!’ that caught the public’s fancy, and they have remained extremely popular.

The other great merits of Pettman’s settings of this carol and ‘Oi Betleem’ is their texts, which do not attempt to mirror the Basque, a spacious language which has English translators searching for words to fill up the long lines. In this case, Baring-Gold conveys the gist of the original eight stanzas in four of great refinement.”
While Pettman presumably finished the work before his death in 1943, the original publication date and title are still unclear. Clearly texts published by Bordes in 1895 would not appear in a Pettman book of 1892. The oldest reference I find in Google Books is from a 1961 list of new publications at the Library of Congress, listing sheet music they received in June 1961. In general, a Google search of the web produces pages that replicate the (seemingly inaccurate) Wikipedia provenance.

Whatever the source, I am grateful that this most suitable Annunciation carol entered the repertoire in the latter half of the 20th century.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Planning a funeral

My father-in-law died suddenly a month ago, and last weekend was his memorial service. I ended up planning the service — as I had for my father back in 1995 — and learned a little more about funeral liturgy and service planning. In particular, 22 years ago I was one of the two decision makers while this time I was a consultant to my mother-in-law and her five adult children.

Both men had their services conducted by the longtime rector of Holy Trinity Anglican Parish in San Diego. While my dad’s service was held at the same site they’d had since 1921, the rector and 95% of his congregation walked away from the site ten years after losing their court case with ECUSA. Our service was held in the LCMS church they have called home since then.

Know the Decedent

I had asked my father-in-law for his hymn list in 2007, and reconfirmed in the summer of 2015. So we had four hymns that he wanted — Battle Hymn of the Republic, Faith of our Fathers, O God Our Help in Ages Past and Eternal Father.. To this, his widow added Amazing Grace. Both Faith of our Fathers and Amazing Grace were part of his sister’s 2006 memorial mass. I asked the rector to find a place in the service to sing all five hymns.

As at my father’s funeral, the multi-service version of the Navy Hymn (H40: 513) was a non-brainer for an Army vet. (WW II for my dad, Korea for my father-in-law). The only downside is that (to distinguish the two hymns), the hymnal begins “Almighty Father” rather than the more familiar “Eternal Father.”

My father-in-law had grown up in the most high church Episcopal parish in San Diego — now the cathedral — and was married at that church with an organ his parents helped fund. His boys had been in their chorister program (one overlapping with me), so we had an organist and I recruited a four-voice choir from among my friends. (It didn’t hurt that the bass is a member of the church choir, and all of the choir were Anglicans who’d worshipped at Holy Trinity).

Finally, I was told quite firmly that the service would begin on time. I guess this should not have been a surprise: my father-in-law was quite punctual, a source of tension during that phase when my wife and I were constantly late coming to family gatherings.

Know the Family

As at their aunt’s service, the children wanted a bagpiper. As at that service, we did it with Amazing Grace: in this case, the bagpiper played a stanza, and then we modulated into new key for five verses of organ, choir and congregation. (The bagpiper explained apologetically that he doesn’t get much choice of key on his instrument).

However, in preparing the order of service, I recommended that we end the service with Amazing Grace rather than begin it. If we started with the bagpipe, I feared there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house — or at least in the family pews. It turns out those fears were misplaced. The loved ones are going to cry during the service, but that’s a normal and healthy thing, and it’s something to be encouraged (as long as they don’t happen to be doing a reading at the podium).

Know the Audience

Who will be in the congregation is more predictable if the departed is an active member of the congregation. But that was not the case.

Still, we more than 150 packed into the service, which my own pastor says is unusual for someone in his 80s. He was active in 3 clubs, and had about 20 members of his boating safety association present. From various parts of the liturgy — the creed, the responsive sentences — it was clear that many in the audience (his generation, not mine) were current or former active church members.

It appeared that not all the congregation were regular singers, and some hymns clearly were more popular than others. Both are a topic for another time.

Planning the Service

The first choice that had to be made was the liturgical rite. Holy Trinity is a longtime Anglo-Catholic parish that is switching from Rite I to the ACNA liturgy. However, all their funerals have been Rite I, so we used that. (My father in law worshipped the greatest portion of his life using the 1928 Book of Common Prayer, but Rite I from the 1979 prayer book is what he'd used most recently).

I did some comparisons of the texts later on. The 1928 and the 1979 Rite I are very different liturgies, even though the wording of some prayers are the same. Meanwhile, portions of the February 2017 ACNA liturgy are identical to Rite II, including the Apostle’s Creed and many of the prayers. (Rite I and II seem to have the same structure but different language).

We then had to decide whether to include the Mass; in the end we did not. We weren’t sure how many would take Communion: however, we had a big crowd and I think we would have had more participants than at my aunt’s service — probably a majority. Without including Communion, 3 of the 5 hymns were before/between/after the Gospel and homily.

As with most American funeral or memorial services, we used the Authorized Version of Psalm 23 (said responsively this month; sung at my father’s service). To include all five hymns, the second psalm of the 1979 prayer book was replaced with a sequence hymn. The final reading was from John 14, which begins with the “many mansions” passage and concludes with the great statement of faith: “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”

The family discussed who would do the three readings: OT, psalm, Epistle. As in a Sunday Rite I service, we elected to have a fourth lay reader (rather than the priest) read the intercessory prayers. Some of the likely nominees (e.g. people who did readings at our wedding) declined out of concern that they might break into tears.

For a service that primarily serves Anglican churchgoers, a simple leaflet (with pointers to the prayer book and hymnal) would have sufficed. We elected to go with a service booklet — full prayers, readings and hymn text — with nine 8.5" x 5.5" pages printed on letter paper (plus a cover and other material). Three of the hymns were in the hymnal, but I don’t know if any hymnals were opened by anyone other than the choir or me.

I found one gotcha on booklet preparation. If I had to do over again, I would have typed the hymn text straight from the hymnal (and proofread it three times) rather than copy and paste from Hymnary.org or Oremus.org. Those sites have the text from one particular hymnal, and that text is unlikely to exactly match that of H40 (or whatever the preferred hymnal is). If I were in the habit of running church services, I would make a database of the exact text of all the hymns from my hymnal, no matter how many hours that would take.

Final Thoughts

In my current lay ministry class, one of my classmates is a part-time volunteer wedding planner at our church. After this, my family joked I had a future as a funeral planner.

Planning a funeral — like a wedding or a baptism — is not something that we do often in our lives. Absent written instructions from the grave, it is also made more complex by having one (or more) family members trying to discern the decedent’s wishes so that they can be honored, while at the same time sensitive to those of the survivors.

To allow for out-of-town travel, we had four weeks to plan this memorial service, while another recent funeral (elsewhere in the family) was scheduled in nine days. From the standpoint of logistics (not bereavement), two weeks is a reasonable interval. Anything less than that requires an immediate meeting with all the relevant family members to understand their wishes (rather than waiting for the next weekend as we did). It might also require someone taking a day off of work to pull together a complete service in a day or two, rather than over a week or two. (I don’t know how much work it was to plan the reception because I merely showed up).

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I value tradition, order and doing things properly — as did my father-in-law. Even without that, it really helped to have a prayer book and rector who (with clear pastoral sensibilities) set clear limits on what was and was not acceptable. With all the planning and other activities of that day, it was tempting at times to forget the real purpose of the service, as captured by the penultimate prayer of the service:
Into thy hands, O merciful Savior, we commend thy servant B. Acknowledge, we humbly beseech thee, a sheep of thine own fold, a lamb of thine own flock, a sinner of thine own redeeming. Receive him into the arms of thy mercy, into the blessed rest of everlasting peace, and into the glorious company of the saints in light. Amen.