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Wakefield Cathedral Choral Evensong


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Maybe it's not the old tyme religion that needs to collapse.....

 

 

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I think it already has, but the corpse keeps twitching.

 

It doesn't seem to have much appeal to anyone, anymore. Few choirs, closed churches everywhere, Diocesan finances on the brink, redundant organs for sale on e-bay.....how bad does it have to get before the few remaining faithful wake up to reality?

 

If art is the nearest thing to life, and the majority of churches are now artless, what does that say?

 

MM

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=============================

 

 

I think it already has, but the corpse keeps twitching.

 

It doesn't seem to have much appeal to anyone, anymore. Few choirs, closed churches everywhere, Diocesan finances on the brink, redundant organs for sale on e-bay.....how bad does it have to get before the few remaining faithful wake up to reality?

 

If art is the nearest thing to life, and the majority of churches are now artless, what does that say?

 

MM

 

But the organs on eBay are generally the least useful, the choirs that disband are often the least musical-sounding, and many of the churches that are closing are getting so much more wrong than simply 'doing Evensong', however badly. The cathedrals, on the whole, are very lively and busy, while their worship is based almost entirely on BCP Evensong and other choral services. The last time I was at Salisbury, the congregation there was the largest and youngest I'd seen for a long time, and the music was as 'traditional' as you could get. The process is just an exercise in 'survival of the fittest', but so many churches are refusing to acknowledge their lack of fitness, or the reasons behind it.

 

Forgive the crude generalisation, but half a dozen old ladies squawking through a two part arrangement of something or another while dressed in shapeless moth-eaten old robes of yesteryear are just not a fair test of our musical tradition.

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I think it was the present Bishop of Salisbury (a former Oxbridge organ scholar and author of a lot of Common Worship) who made himself very unpopular a few years ago by saying that the vast majority of Anglican services are very boring and very badly done and this is the reason why people don't go to them. He was absolutely right.

 

Choir members of any age or gender wearing any kind of robes other than cassocks and cottas/surplices put me off immediately - especially blue, red or purple gowns with matching hats - and my experience is that choirs thus clad usually sound as dreadful as they look.

 

Young people DO respond to the beautiful and the numinous in worship and even quite young children can respond to a reverent sense of atmosphere which adults have created. My experience is that places which provide the best music and the best liturgy usually also provide the best preaching, sense of community and pastoral care. (An obvious example is All Saints' Margaret Street.) This is because the people involved in that worshipping community care and take trouble over everything they do and they attract others who are happy to do likewise.

 

I regret having to say this, having for most of my life attended church on average several times a week, but - certainly in the deaneries of Brighton and Hove - most of the churches provide services which - regardless of churchmanship - are too awful for words and I am sure they are no worse than anything you would find elsewhere. Yesterday morning I felt far more in communion with God whilst sitting at home playing Mozart piano sonatas than I would have done if I had gone to church and I genuinely regret having to say that. Walsingham, of course is another matter; I could happily worship there permanently.

 

Last year at Walsingham two RC gents from London were staying at the same B&B place as me and they both refuse to attend any form of Mass anywhere other than Latin Tridentine (Extra-Ordinary Form). I find this just as silly as Anglicans who will only attend BCP services or English Missal services. Almost any form of liturgy can be made meaningful, beautiful and reverent and almost any form of liturgy has something postive to offer. Equally any form of liturgy can easily be done so that it is awful and puts people off - especially young people who are more discerning than a lot of older people realise. I know there are many parishes - including a number in the Brighton area - which are very poor, lacking in numbers and staffed by weary, faithful clergy who do their very best to provide good worship under difficult circumstances. Sometimes they succeed where other fail.

 

Malcolm

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I think it was the present Bishop of Salisbury (a former Oxbridge organ scholar and author of a lot of Common Worship) who made himself very unpopular a few years ago by saying that the vast majority of Anglican services are very boring and very badly done and this is the reason why people don't go to them. He was absolutely right.

I think that hits the nail squarely on the head. I pine for the church I knew as a student which had a flourishing musical tradition, a good standard of worship AND an active and happy community. Now I try to make do with the few churches that manage one or two of the three, and tend to avoid the majority of churches which have none of the above.

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My own church serves the needs of younger people and families very well and seeks to do so in a way the mainstream understands. We must be succeeding as over half the congregation on a Sunday are aged under 40 - this amounts to about 500 people. We seek to meet them where they are, and communicate with them in a way that is accessible to them. However, we realise that the forms of worship suitable to this group do not hold any interest, or act as a passage to worship for many others. It is wise here not to relate preferred style and age together, as one simply cannot. So we have a more reflective service for those who prefer it, and an early morning BCP communion for those who prefer that. Hence, four services every Sunday.

 

Regardless of the style, what drives us is principally worship of the Almighty, and secondly, but clearly associated with it good standards in whatever style you are working. The organ, a fairly robust 3 manual mainly JWW is used at every service in a very varied capacity from sole music provider to integration with drums guitars piano brass woodwind etc, depending on the context.

 

We are there to worship God and lift others to do the same, so really the style is secondary to the purpose. The purpose drives the style, conception and approach.

 

AJS

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