Book of Common Prayer

Discussion in 'Liturgy, and Book of Common Prayer' started by GB-UK, Dec 28, 2014.

  1. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    Yeah! Don't you?

    Perhaps the only thing that truly irks me about Anglicanism are the folks who advocate for English Anglicanism -- whether Texan, Nagalander, or Chinese, I would hope that we would recognize and encourage the amazing varieties of good!
     
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  2. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I see what you're saying.

    Yes!!
     
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  3. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    Can we isolate certain musical keystones which should be central around the world? Maybe if music is something seen as culturally-dependent we should emphasize chant instead, by emphasizing chanted psalms and canticles,whatever the musical accompaniment.
     
  4. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    Sounds like Roman Catholicism ;) Hello Gregorian chant.
     
  5. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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  6. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    First, I don't see why it's bad to have culture reflected in the worship. Why should we strive to get away from that?

    As to plainchant, yes, it is highly useful and can be quite beautiful (as many of you probably know). My own parish uses chant specifically for the psalms. It is, however, a free-form of music making so isn't particularly useful to introducing choral singing to a congregation. And as someone who grew up singing the Scottish Psalter it remains, to my knowledge, one of the most brilliant ways to actually know all of the psalms. Plainchant doesn't do that.
     
  7. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    When ++Cranmer compiled the First BCP in 1549, he wanted simple musical settings for services rather than the ornate polyphony which had hitherto been used. He commisioned John Marbecke to provide these settings and 'The Book of Common Prayer Noted' was published the following year. Merbecke's Communion setting is still used in some places today and has a quasi-plainchant style - "for every syllable a note" as was ++Cranmer's directive. (We sing Merbecke at my parish church.)

    Example of Merbecke's 'Gloria' on YouTube:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pswx5dqaUxU
    Note, this was originally intended to be sung unaccompanied although is usually accompanied on the organ nowadays - I don't particularly like the organ arrangement in this version.

    Merbecke's book had a limited shelf life. When Elizabeth restored the English liturgy following Mary's reign, more Protestant sympathies meant that service music lost favour. The staple fare in parish churches at the time was the singing of metrical psalms - a Calvinist influence. Elizabeth hated metrical psalms and referred to them as 'Geneva jigs' - she personally favoured more sumptuous music in the Royal Chapels. The Book of Common Prayer was often bound together with Sternhold & Hopkins metrical psalter and in parish churches metrical psalms were often 'lined out' i.e. the Parish Clerk singing one line at a time with the congregtion repeating it parrot fashion. This was fairly common practice in many churches in the 16th and 17th centuries and must have been tedious! (Anne mentioned the Scottish Psalter in her post - this is another example of a metrical psalter.)

    Hymn singing in the Church of England was not officially sanctioned until 1821 but became very popular. A little later, the Oxford Movement wanted to restore dignity and beauty in worship and as a result, many very early hymns were translated from Latin and Greek by people such as John Mason Neale. If I remember correctly, the Oxford Movement rediscovered Merbecke.

    In 1906, the English Hymnal was published. The editors felt that there was a need for hymns of greater diversity and better quality than those found in 'Hymns Ancient and Modern' a popular hymnal first published in the mid 19th century. The English Hymnal contained hymns utilizing plainchant, folk song, German chorales, settings of poetry (e.g. Herbert) and new hymns by Ralph Vaughan Williams. The editors wanted to make hymn singing a high art form.

    It's common in English cathedrals now to have ornate Renaissance polyphony for the Ordinary of the Mass. Whilst it's certainly very beautiful, it's not what ++Cranmer intended for the English liturgy. When I attend a Cathedral Eucharist I sometimes feel that I'm a spectator and not a participant.

    I suppose Anglican Chant is regarded as the classical Anglican way to chant the psalms and canticles. It really grew out of the Cathedral tradition, and partly due to the influence of the Oxford movement filtered down to parish churches with choirs who wanted to emulate the choral services found in Cathedrals. Anglican Chant isn't ideal for congregational singing particulary in the abscence of a choir and competant organist.
     
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  8. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    Fantastic overview! My parish also uses Merbecke.
     
  9. Spherelink

    Spherelink Active Member

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    As I have found, it goes way back to the Reformation era in breaking from the Gregorian chant. How would you say it ties into the history outlined in your post?

    From what I have learned, the Oxford Movement tried to abolish Anglican chant by restoring Gregorian chant as neatly tying with the Gothic Revival, while Anglican chant was especially tied, in its appearance, with the Reformation.

    Why not, would you say?
     
  10. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    Oh, wait, I think it's an unfair assessment to say that the Oxford Movement tried to restore Gregorian chant -- the best word to describe their aesthetics is eclectic. Their ideas of architecture and music did not always tie into their theology. Like Symphorian said:

    From 'The Oxford History of Christian Worship"

    "Indeed so far as the restoration of Gregorian chant was concerned, the Cambridge ecclesiologists creatively misread the historical evidence, believing that congregations (led by robed and surpliced choirs) had spontaneously joined in singing chant during the Middle Ages. Furthermore being obliged to accept The Book of Common Prayer, they became particularly interested in the Reformation experiments in adapting plainchant to English (such as John Merbecke's The Book of Common Prayer Noted 1550). Unlike previous "high" churchmen, they participated in the popular movement to include hymns (as opposed to metrical psalms)..."

    As to why Anglican Chant isn't ideal for unassisted congregational singing -- my own guess would be because it's free-form. As in, un-metrical. Without clear guidance form an organist or better yet a trained choir the congregation somewhat crashes into each other.... it's like that one guy behind you who never takes that little pause in saying "Our Father...who art in heaven" but instead says it all in one go and thus gets ahead of everyone else. Anglican Chant when learned well works great (and is incredibly beautiful!), but it takes musicians to lead it.
     
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  11. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    We chant the canticles at our parish, usually to one of the melodies in the 1940 Hymnal. I quite like it.
     
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  12. Symphorian

    Symphorian Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you're correct to say that Anglican Chant has its origins in the 16th century. Thomas Tallis is often cited in this respect. Anglican Chant developed over time, initially with simple single chants, then double chants in the late 17th/early 18th century, later still triple and rarer quadruple chants. I didn't say that the Oxford Movement pioneered the use of Anglican Chant. It was partly down to their influence and partly due to the Victorian penchant for emulating Cathedrals that Cathedral traditions filtered down to parish churches in the mid 19th century with the introduction of surpliced choirs. (Often regarded as the height of Romanism at the time!) It wasn't until the second half of the 19th century that organs became more common in parish churches, particularly rural ones. From about 1700 to the mid 19th century gallery bands of amateur musicians led singing in worship using instruments like fiddle, flute, clarinet, bass viol (i.e. cello) and serpent. The metrical psalters of Sternhold & Hopkins and Brady & Tate would've been staple fare . Overall a very different style of music to Cathedrals.

    Anne has stated why Anglican Chant isn't ideal for congregational singing. Have you tried singing Coverdale's psalms to Anglican Chant? It takes a lot of skill and practice to do well. Unfortunately congregations are unlikely to want to spend time mastering the pointing system of psalms and lots of new chants. With a little practice however it's possible to get the Daily Office canticles to a reasonable standard. We manage the Venite, Te Deum, Jubilate, Magnificat and Nunc at my parish church (without choir) although I'm a reasonable organist. Overall, Anglican Chant is best sung in 4 part harmony by a decent choir with organist. Sadly these seem to be disappearing in the parishes these days.

    Just before Christmas I attended a service at a nearby church where we sang the Magnificat to AC. The organist really had no idea how the pointing went...a few of us in the congo did, but like Anne's description, some were ahead, some were behind and the overall effect was just dreadful. There was a collective sigh of relief when we reached the Gloria Patri!
     
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  13. Soli Deo Gloria

    Soli Deo Gloria New Member

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    Sorry for joining this conversation so late, but I'd like to get back to the question about whether there is a particular kind of music that we as Anglicans should be striving for that would be objectively more appropriate for worshiping God. Having come from a pentecostal and then Baptist background, I've experienced God in those casual contemporary pop-style of music worship settings and though I have come to a better deeper understanding of God through the liturgy and the prayers, I still struggle with enjoying worshiping God with the contemporary songs (not all of them are good, but there are ones that I find to invoke emotion that seems lacking in the solemn style of Anglican chants and hymns.) I believe that music for Sunday services should be reverential and never casual, but is there a time and place outside of Sunday church services where such contemporary Western Christian pop is acceptable?

    I also want to mention that I have a lot of experience with traditional Christian music, having two Master of Music degrees (Choral Conducting and Music Education), but I first came to know and experienced God through the band-type worship music.

    I agree that Western modal and diatonic music is more superior than some other cultural music, but what if the pop-worship music evokes the same kind of reverence musically literate people feel about polyphonic music in the average joe who knows nothing about music? Do we need to start educating the masses about how to appreciate traditional choral and instrumental music, or should we "meet them where they're at"?
     
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  14. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    Hello fellow musician! Great questions.

    First, I want to say that worship is about meaning and not about preference. So moving on from here:

    I'm inclined to say yes -- but maybe you could give us an example? What some people call Christian pop is very different than what other people might call it. All I'm trying to say is, yes, absolutely, we all have our folk tunes and cultural music that we love.... just be careful that it's worthy of your love. That sounds a little uptight, I don't mean it that way :)

    The average joe must improve or are we to be lead by the illiterate? Again, the liturgy should not cater to our preferences and emotions -- we, our emotions and preferences, are to be trained by good music.

    I think you answered your question. I used the example of Nagaland for this very idea. Those who don't know any better simply do not know any better, and so they are to learn to improve. But of course they can't learn until comes to them to meet them where they are and show them how.
     
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  15. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    I think so, absolutely! The music of the liturgy is never meant to be casual but that doesn't mean we shouldn't listen to something when we do feel casual. And as frail human beings we want to feel casual quite often! If the liturgy is a supernatural event, casual Christian music can fill that void during the natural parts of our lives. Sometimes we may even listen to supernatural liturgical music in our week for replenishment too. It's all good, both are good!

    Praise be to God.

    This whole meeting people where they're at thing started with Pope Francis, and I think should be left to Catholics. We as Anglicans present a holy standard, shining on a hill, as a general rule. It does mean we can abide by some concessions to surrounding cultures but i think that must be viewed as always and ever a temporary and transient state. The trajectory of the people (even if we must say their children, if the parents cannot adjust) should be toward the highest reverence, so... yes classes, educational programs, apologetics drawing out the advantages of proper Sacred Music should often be made.
     
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  16. Robinson Crusoe

    Robinson Crusoe Member

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    not sure the issue is whether a casual mood, as such, is acceptable in any context. the issue seems to be can we be casual when thinking of God in any context?

    certainly being casual at home on a saturday morning with the family watching cartoons is acceptable. however, for example: is it acceptable to sing "casual" christian pop songs with a few friends you have over for a bible study? or, to sing casual christian pop songs along with the radio while driving to work?

    i.e., to approach God casually in contexts outside sacred corporate worship?
     
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2015
  17. anglican74

    anglican74 Well-Known Member Anglican

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    It is hard to give a definitive answer. While its true that we approach a God who is majestic, we have frail natures which want to feel casual quite often. So do we only allow Godly thoughts to enter our minds when we are particularly elevated? Do we conversely elevate our minds by force, when it's time to think Godly? ...
     
  18. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    It seems like the confusion arises when casual music, for whatever reason, appears to move people to a mood that is very moving, very touching. This mood is distinct from the mood provoked by more elevated, reverent music. Yet, it is powerful for some people. It's power is a paradox to me in light of it's casual instrumentation and composition.

    How do we explain this? Without this explanation, it seems like the casual-powerful music finds its way into sacred Sunday worship. You see, seems like ends justify means--whatever music provokes that powerful, emotional mood, is appropriate for sacred Sunday worship.
     
  19. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

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    ....why do we think that we must have some powerful and emotional mood evoked during worship? I'm there to worship and to meet Christ. My emotions do not make this more or less valid. And using whatever means to attain that emotional state that I deem appropriate to worship only makes myself an authority instead of submitting to having my emotions shaped by superior music over time.
     
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  20. Classical Anglican

    Classical Anglican Active Member Anglican

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    So, as far as sacred Sunday worship, is that the key issue?: We must submit to the church in, among other things, the music and liturgy it crafts?

    From a congregant's perspective I agree. But it seems to be clergy that bring in change after change, often driven by this desire to evoke a stirring emotional response! What is the guiding principle that the church should be following when crafting service? The training and molding up of the congregation to the objectively superior music? I agree that this would be the case, but clearly we need an apologetic for how it could be that such a thing as superior music exists.

    For congregants outside sacred service, who are left to their own decisions about what they listen to, many end up choosing the pop music that produces these stiring emotions. Eventually this creates an internal conflict within the congregant--they feel the emotion privately, and because of the mechanics of the pop music, struggle to desire the deeper, reverential music at church.

    Perhaps an analogy is in order. Suppose on Sunday's an individual eats dinner at a five star restaurant. This has multiple courses, and is the finest food in the nation. However, the rest of the time, he eats junk food. He developes a desire for the taste and feelings bound up in eating junk food.

    Well, every Sunday night, he's going to have to overcome that desire for junk food, is he not? He'll have to get himself in the right frame of mind, he'll have to struggle, often fail. Would it not be better for this individual to try to emulate the fine dining of Sunday nights for the rest of his meals? Wouldn't that continuity set up circumstances in which he will want to eat the finer stuff? Isn't there a conflict here?
     
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