Sunday, July 27, 2008

Sunday High Church

While the rest of the Anglican world may be coming unhinged over gays and women in holy orders, the big divisive issue in my parish is Anglican Chant. Here is Anglican Chant done by the experts, the Choir of King's College Cambridge.

We do Anglican Chant for part of the church year, Christmas, Epiphany, Easter, and most of Pentecost. We go back to plain chant for Advent, Lent, and when the choir is on vacation in the summer. There are some like me and our rector, who love Anglican Chant, and others who are bitterly opposed. So far, this does not seem to be a church-splitting issue.

I wonder what will happen if we ever start doing "praise music?"


Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

Our church choir recently learned to do this. I think it's beautiful.

Wormwood's Doxy said...

I wonder what will happen if we ever start doing "praise music?"

The Apocalypse will begin immediately. So please don't.

PseudoPiskie said...

If we ever start doing praise music I won't know about it. The choir and the organist will be long gone.

Sometimes we do Anglican chant. Sometimes we use congregational refrains from various collections while the choir sings the verses.

Most of our people don't sing. I think our building is too large and the number of people too small to encourage singing.

June Butler said...

Beautiful! We do plain chant in our church. Our choir is too few in number for Anglican Chant.

We belt out the hymns in my church, for which I am most grateful, because I like to sing out myself. Since both our congregation and our church building are small, we are a good fit for each other.

I've been to Evensong at King's College. Unforgettable! Both the music and the gorgeous chapel. A little bit of heaven on earth.

Anonymous said...

novice question: how does Anglican differ from plain chant? I presume the differences go beyond being sung with a stiff upper lip and carefully balancing all high notes with low notes.

Counterlight said...

To my very limited knowledge, plain chant developed in the Middle Ages as a way to sing the Psalms and liturgy with neither harmony nor instrumentation. The reasons for singing were as a way of remembering the words (not that much got written down in those days), and to be heard over a crowd in a large church; no microphones in those days.
Anglican chant began after the Reformation as a way to sing the Psalms with harmony and instruments, though without any rhythm beyond the cadences of speech.

A decision to use "praise music" in my parish would lead to musician mutiny and general anarchy. I don't think it will happen.

Counterlight said...

Lest that explanation for chanting above seem a little too prosaic, remember that the Psalms were originally written to be sung. Generations of Jews and Christians have always known this. The singing of a Psalm cycle with the Daily Office and with the Sunday Eucharist comes straight out of the old synagogue service (as does most of the first half of the Eucharist, the Liturgy of the Word).

Unknown said...
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Anonymous said...

I once sang at Öja church on Gotland
It is 13th century. We were a small choir from Lund Cathedral, one of the first 4 part mixed choirs in Sweden, a 1904 decision by King in Council – time when Visby Cathedral on Gotland still had the Cathedral schoolboys alternating on Sundays (in 1914 my grandfather was one of them).

Öja is built for one voice only – the Cantor. It was a really strange experience to be far too many voices (about a dozen) to the acoustics.

As one can find from the late medieval Agendas of Linköping Diocese, the Priest did not usually sing, or mass, the mass. Cantor was a specialised 2 year study at the Cathedral school of the Diocese (Linköping on the mainland in this case, the medieval house is still standing across the park from the Cathedral though the School has moved half a mile). Priests started with 3 years at the Cathedral followed by University often Prague or Paris...

Upsala, Scara and Linköping had their own student houses at the Quartier Latin (Upsala Rue Serpente; Scara Rue Jean de Beauvais, Linköping Rue des Carmes. All taken over by other foreign nations, manly the English and German already during the 15th century.

Anonymous said...

We do Old Church singing regularly in Church of Sweden parishes (we don't call it Gregorian music – it has little to do with Gregory the "Great". Some of it is believed to date from the Temple.)

In France it is only “allowed” for certain convents (Solesmes) and then in the musically truncated 1614 Roman Mass version (this was the first permitted unified Mass, earlier every Diocese had its own Missionary tradition, its own Liturgical tradition and its own Musical tradition. Much of it British here: long-forgotten British saints like Saint Botholf are remembered in for instance Botulfsplatsen, Saint Botholf’s Square at Lund.).

The vestiges of which are found in the bindings to 16th century State financial reports being cut stripes of parchment from ancient Mass books of the 11th century British Mission in these parts (both Denmark and Sweden).