Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Some are fed up with bad church music

Regular readers know that Hymn #335† is one of the few additions that I believe worth preserving from Hymnal 1982. Yes it has a sappy tune – and difficult voice leading – but it effectively puts to music the red letter text of John 6:44-51. In doing so, it provides an appropriate communion or post-communion prayer that teaches the congregation the meaning of what they may be taking for granted.

When I visited Hymnal 1982 parishes from 1990-2010, I often requested it — as when I studied abroad for two months and asked to sing it the last Sunday I was there (before returning to my Hymnal 1940 home). Other than concerns about overuse, the respective music directors were always glad to oblige.

On the traditional music side, apparently not everyone cares for this hymn. A priest friend reposted this picture (“I Am the Bread of Life: new verse”) on Facebook

Trying to explain the post turned out to be more complex than I anticipated. It was originally posted August 24 to the Facebook group “I'm fed up with bad church music.” The posting (thus far) has 133 comments and 737 Likes from the group’s 11,030 members. But that’s only the beginning.

It was posted by John Kersey, president of “The Oxford Centre for Leadership,”  a training and mentoring program in the UK. His LinkedIn profile says he is also faculty at universities in Costa Rica and Dominica, and a professional concert pianist. However, he is also (as of Feb. 2015) the primate of the New York-based Apostolic Episcopal Church, established in 1925, which is “a western-rite extension of The Chaldean Catholic Church” whose ecumenical mission is “to act as a center for the reunion of Christendom.” Finally, he is head of the Abbey-Principality of San Luigi, a Catholic community (and “sovereign principality”) established in 1883 by French and Spanish Benedictine monks with ties to Syria, England, Africa, the U.S. and Jackson Browne.

Whew! I thought my life was complicated.

† The words and music for “Bread of Life” were written in 1966 by Sister Suzanne Toolan, RSM (b. 1927)

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