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WHOOPS! THEY DID IT AGAIN.

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My problem with committees, is that you never know who to shoot first.

 

The committee of which I speak appears to know nothing about continuity and English prose, which would not normally concern me or the content of the Discussion Board. However, when it has a deleterious effect on music associated with the liturgy, it is a major headache to everyone and anyone associated with the provision of catholic church music. Such is the problem now posed, because nothing written will fit the new words, which in themselves appear to be an appalling mish-mash of old and new, with barely a thought given to prosaic excellence. Worryingly, there is now the further provision that a revival of the older latin wording is now permitted: something of a retrograde step if the vernacular is that which conveys the liturgical meaning in a way which peope are able to understand.

 

It is especially difficult when ill-educated and ill-informed priests, knowing nothing at all about music, decide on this or that wording as part of an ill conceived admixture of prosaic styles and languages.

 

In trying to understand the reasoning behind the new missal, it occurred to me that there has been a deliberate move towards the familiar, everyday forms of address. Consequently, God and Jesus are addressed as 'you' rather than the somewhat less personal 'thou', with the result that any qualification of the same, precludes the traditional words and prosaic flow.

 

The 'Gloria' was bad enough in English previously, but now it is a travesty of the same needless repetition, when it could so easily have been both modernised and simplified.

 

I've never understood how "Gloria in excelsis Deo" could become "Glory to God in the highest," but now we have the further imposition of, "and on earth peace to people of good will."

 

What has 'good will' got to do with it?'

 

Surely, even Christians can, at various times, be happy, clappy or downright snappy?

 

The call of the Gloria is to spread peace and harmony among the turbulent and divisive; not to create an exclusive club..

 

Then we have the old shopping list, which is no better in the new version of the Missal: clearly an attempt to retain tradition while tearing the heart out of the old prose.

 

From the musical point of view, this new Missal is a disaster, with the possible result that everything meaningful will now slip back into Latin at the posher end, while ordinary parishes mumble away without music.

 

If the hierarchy read this, I'll probably be struck off, (or whetever it is they do to organists), but I can't help but think that the new missal is poetically ugly and a needless invention of people who wish to make a mark for themselves. Meanwhile, even the good old BCP of 1662, is much easier to understand.

 

MM

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In trying to understand the reasoning behind the new missal, it occurred to me that there has been a deliberate move towards the familiar, everyday forms of address. Consequently, God and Jesus are addressed as 'you' rather than the somewhat less personal 'thou', with the result that any qualification of the same, precludes the traditional words and prosaic flow.

Anglicans have had this for years. Of course, in the days when the reformers were first translating the Latin services, "thee" and "thou" were everyday forms of address, so the argument goes that replacing them with "you" is only restoring the status quo. That begs the question of whether the status quo needed restoring. Personally I was never convinced. One of the unforseen benefits of the way English has developed is that "thee" and "thou" gradually became more or less specifically a "holy" form of address (though someone might well pull me up on northern usage here!) In short, it became a neat way of setting God, Jesus and other holy beings apart as something special. What on earth was wrong with that? By reducing them to the mundane we have lost something very valuable. But then, the whole tenor of the Anglican church is to reduce God to the mundane. Not intentionally, of course, but that is the feeling it invokes. Priests sometimes manage to rise above it, but the language is always a dead weight trying to pull them back to earth.

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Anglicans have had this for years. Of course, in the days when the reformers were first translating the Latin services, "thee" and "thou" were everyday forms of address, so the argument goes that replacing them with "you" is only restoring the status quo. That begs the question of whether the status quo needed restoring. Personally I was never convinced. One of the unforseen benefits of the way English has developed is that "thee" and "thou" gradually became more or less specifically a "holy" form of address (though someone might well pull me up on northern usage here!) In short, it became a neat way of setting God, Jesus and other holy beings apart as something special. What on earth was wrong with that? By reducing them to the mundane we have lost something very valuable. But then, the whole tenor of the Anglican church is to reduce God to the mundane. Not intentionally, of course, but that is the feeling it invokes. Priests sometimes manage to rise above it, but the language is always a dead weight trying to pull them back to earth.

 

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

 

 

I quite accept that many, including 'Vox,' may prefer the traditional over the modern use of the vernacular. I would personallu support the vernacular. but this isn't really the core problem.

 

If we take a bit of Shakespeare in the form of "The Silver Swan," it CAN be re-worked as effective prose in modern vernacular English, but it can be totally destroyed by unsympathetic use of language.

 

I'll attempt to demonstrate......

 

"The silver swan, without call or cry.

will make a sound when she must die.

Her first and last sound; no more to follow,

from river-bank or reedy hollow.

 

Farewell to life,

as death closes her eyes,

more geese than swans left living,

more fools than wise."

 

I would humbly suggest that this is reasonably true to the original, and it still has metre as well as rhyme.

 

Now if you re-work that in common "Daily Mail" English, it would probably go something like this:-

 

"The silver swan doesn't have a call or cry,

but will often make a sound when it is time to die.

It's the first sound and the last sound. after which nothing will follow,

whether she dies on the river-bank or in a reedy hollow.

 

As life slips away,

the moment of death will close her eyes,

one more goose and one less swan will then live,

leaving more foolish birds than wise."

 

You know what the big problem with the second version is?

 

It still rhymes after a fashion, but the lilting metre has been destroyed by an excess of words, and with it, our ability to instantly remember it.

 

That's what's happened with the liturgy, across the denominations. One can be easily set to music, and one would prove difficult; no prizes for guessing which.

 

The genius of both Cranmer and Shakespeare has to do, (among other things), with their sheer economy of words.

 

"The Silver Swan,

which living made no note,

as death approached,

unlocked her tiny throat.

 

Leaning her breast against the reedy shore,

thus spake her first, and last, and spake no more.

 

Farewell all joys,

O death come close mine eyes,

more geese than swans now live,

more fools than wise."

 

MM

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It does come as quite a shock when you're first faced with the new Missal. I agree that the way some of the language used is rather ugly and doesn't lend itself to memory. There is some tautology which I don't think follows the biblical treatment of repetition as a tool to make a point. I believe it has been changed because the Fathers have gone back to the original texts and have found them wanting in translation, presumably with the hindsight of a greater scholarly understanding than that of earlier translators. 'Good will' which MM mentions above I think is one of these instances, however it would not surprise me to find out that 'good will' in early times meant something different to its meaning now. I am no scholar in these matters.

 

The advantage of a more poetic approach is that it can be more easily committed to memory which many would regard as a devotional aid. We have a passingly acceptable set of notes to sing the new setting too, I forget who's responsible for them but I know that other parishes struggle. As music can also help to commit words to memory it feels like we are in a horse and stable door situation. Doubtless it will change and hopefully improve, but there has been a startling lack of communication from the front to explain why. Not everyone reads the publications where this discussion has been taking place and it can therefore seem like change for the sake of it.

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My problem with committees, is that you never know who to shoot first.

 

It is especially difficult when ill-educated and ill-informed priests, knowing nothing at all about music, decide on this or that wording as part of an ill conceived admixture of prosaic styles and languages.

 

 

If the hierarchy read this, I'll probably be struck off, (or whetever it is they do to organists)

MM

 

 

WHOOPS!!! HE'S DONE IT AGAIN!!

 

Yet another case of MM opening his mouth without putting his brain into gear to air his own prejudices. Why doesn't he just express his concerns in the proper manner without having to insult people?

 

The Priest, a very close friend of mine, who spearheaded the new translation is both educated and highly informed and a not inconsiderable musician. He read Classics at Peterhouse, Cambridge, lectured there and at Oxford. He also holds a research degree in his particular discipline from Cambridge. A very fine viola player, I have played chamber music with him on a number of occasions. The very last description of him could be 'ill-educated and ill-informed'!!

 

Perhaps MM he ought to write a polite letter to his Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, who was also involved to an extent on the new translation, expressing his concerns and perhaps even asking for help from his Diocesan Music Department so that he can be working in his parish to find or write new exciting music for the 'New' Rite - rather than grumbling about it. One of the reasons, not the only reason, that Catholic church music is in the state it is, and in MM's Diocese of Leeds it is better than most by a very long way, is because of musicians continually wanting to look backwards instead of trying to find exciting ways of presenting music for Sunday Liturgy.

 

I went to the Cathedral on Sunday and heard the new 2nd Eucharistic Prayer. I thought some of it was rather beautiful - certainly better than the last attempt which really did sound as if it had been written by a committee.

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Of course, in the days when the reformers were first translating the Latin services, "thee" and "thou" were everyday forms of address, so the argument goes that replacing them with "you" is only restoring the status quo.

 

It is possible to argue rather differently: that while the two second-person pronouns were certainly in everyday use in that period, they were (or could be) still distinct in implied meaning– ‘thou’ being familiar and ‘you’ formal. Shakespeare provides a good example of the two juxtaposed:

 

Harry, withdraw thyself; thou bleedest too much.

Lord John of Lancaster, go you unto him.

 

Arguably, then, for the Prayer Book to address God as ‘thou’ was not simply an earlier version of the modern ‘you’, but had a specific purpose. In which case, the recent innovation of using ‘you’ is not restoring the status quo, but rather distorting it.

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What on earth has this got to do with organs? There are plenty of blogs and other websites devoted specifically to topics of this kind and very boring they are too!

 

Malcolm

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WHOOPS!!! HE'S DONE IT AGAIN!!

 

Yet another case of MM opening his mouth without putting his brain into gear to air his own prejudices. Why doesn't he just express his concerns in the proper manner without having to insult people?

 

The Priest, a very close friend of mine, who who spearheaded the new translation is both educated and highly informed and a not inconsiderable musician. He read Classics at Peterhouse, Cambridge, lectured there and at Oxford. He also holds a research degree in his particular discipline from Cambridge. A very fine viola player, I have played chamber music with him on a number of occasions. The very last description of him could be 'ill-educated and ill-informed'!!

 

Perhaps MM he ought to write a polite letter to his Bishop, the Rt. Rev. Arthur Roche, Bishop of Leeds, who was also involved to an extent on the new translation, expressing his concerns and perhaps even asking for help from his Diocesan Music Department so that he can be working in his parish to find or write new exciting music for the 'New' Rite - rather than grumbling about it. One of the reasons, not the only reason, that Catholic church music is in the state it is, and in MM's Diocese of Leeds it is better than most by a very long way, is because of musicians continually wanting to look backwards instead of trying to find exciting ways of presenting music for Sunday Liturgy.

 

I went to the Cathedral on Sunday and heard the new 2nd Eucharistic Prayer. I thought some of it was rather beautiful - certainly better than the last attempt which really did sound as if it had been written by a committee.

 

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

 

 

Well, you haven't even addressed the points which I made regarding word rhythm and scan. Furthermore, I was not painting all priests with the same brush, but merely pointing out that most parish priests know little or nothing about music, prose or poetry.

 

Most organists don't do jazz improvisations, and I certainly cannot. Is that criticism, prejudice or factual observation?

 

The ordinary parish priest should not have to be placed in the position, whereby they need to mix and match liturgical words, in order for parish music to continue or thrive, hence my point about reverting to latin settings.

 

When it comes to writing and prose, what benefit is education, I wonder?

 

Permit my indulgence, but I once shared my life with an academic in posession of three master's degrees, (Classics, English Lit: and Fine Arts/Harvard, Columbia and Paris if I recall correctly). Fluent in fourteen languages with a vast knowledge of music history, he was in posession of the largest private working library I've ever encountered, an 18th century square piano, a harpsichord, a clavichord and a baroque viol.

 

The man was spectacularly well educated.

 

When it came to playing music, he was a complete incompetent. When it came to writing, he was accurate to a fault, yet pedantic, dull and clumsy.

 

Wasn't Shakespeare himself reviled by the literary establishment of the day, on the basis that he lacked education and didn't have quite the right connections in London? (I expect Edward Elgar also didn't, but that's another story).

 

Now why should I want to write to the bishop or make a nuiscance of myself pestering Ben Saunders and his staff, when the job is done and the words are in print?

 

As the lawyer would say, "We are where we are."

 

When it comes to looking backwards, you would be hard pressed to find anyone more radical than myself, because I would rip up the old rites and start over again.

 

I've never sat on any sort of liturgical committee at any level, (the coffee is dreadful), but from the outside looking-in, I can hazard a guess at how they operate. Firstly, someone terribly important talks to his peers, and they recommend people. They do a few rugby tackles on classics scholars, minor theologians and a few safe wordsmiths, then sit around in endless discussion about the exact meaning of each and every liturgical word, and how it can be "modernised" and re-packaged.

 

In other words, the process is one of contrived evolution, and we know what can happen there.

 

If one looks at Cranmer, it hangs together so beautifully because it is elegantly written in one hand, in a consistently beautiful style.

The same could be said of Shakespeare, and I don't think it is prejudiced to suggest that they knew what they were doing rather better than most members of liturgical committees.

 

I have no doubt that I will probably be able to cobble up something in the way of a new congregational mass setting, but so clumsy are the words of the sung bits, whatever emerges will be compromised even before my pen hits the manuscript paper.

 

Now, if SL would like to make a serious point, I will light a cigarette, pour myself a cup of best arabica and give it due consideration.

 

MM

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What on earth has this got to do with organs? There are plenty of blogs and other websites devoted specifically to topics of this kind and very boring they are too!

 

Malcolm

 

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

 

Because organs are largely in churches, and organists have to cope with what goes on in them.

 

I often wish organs were situated elsewhere and available.

 

MM

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What on earth has this got to do with organs?

 

A great deal – assuming that organs are not unrelated to organists and organ-enthusiasts. Organists have to sit through services: assuming that most organists are blessed with artistic sensibilities, they may find that language lacking in any kind of grace grates upon them. Organ-enthusiasts who attend a service believing its artistic and spiritual significance to be inter-related may be dismayed by wording that is, to them, poverty stricken. Thank heavens for choral evensong, where the music largely dictates that BCP wording is still the basis of the service.

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MM,

 

I think you're imagining the translation process a little more prosaically than it occurred in reality! The reality is that the current text is the result of a thirty-year 'civil war' between various factions of the Catholic church. The translation itself was pretty easy once the squabbling had been calmed; eventually the Vatican cut through all the guff you're imagining by insisting on completely literal renditions, and that's why a lot of people don't like the text.

 

I think there's the beginnings of a flame war in this thread, which it would be best to avoid. The full story of the genesis of these translations is thirty years of church politics, and doesn't make for very edifying reading.

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MM,

 

I think you're imagining the translation process a little more prosaically than it occurred in reality! The reality is that the current text is the result of a thirty-year 'civil war' between various factions of the Catholic church. The translation itself was pretty easy once the squabbling had been calmed; eventually the Vatican cut through all the guff you're imagining by insisting on completely literal renditions, and that's why a lot of people don't like the text.

 

I think there's the beginnings of a flame war in this thread, which it would be best to avoid. The full story of the genesis of these translations is thirty years of church politics, and doesn't make for very edifying reading.

 

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

 

 

I'm shocked! B)

 

The Germans had a thirty-year war......they got J S Bach

 

The English had a Civil War......they got Gibbons, Tomkins and Morley.

 

The catholics have a 30 year civil war....we get a missal.

 

How are things in the Jewish synagogues these days?

 

MM

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Sorry, 'Civil War' was a bit sensationalist, wasn't it!

 

I think when the final printings of the new missal come through, they'll have much more musical notation embedded in them than has been the case before. With some luck this might increase the amount of chant heard at mass. The new texts sound much better chanted - particularly the collects and prefaces. Did anyone hear the Radio 4 broadcast from OLEM in Cambridge a couple of weeks ago?

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I quite accept that many, including 'Vox,' may prefer the traditional over the modern use of the vernacular. I would personallu support the vernacular. but this isn't really the core problem.

Don't get me wrong. My preference for traditional texts is largely because, so far, no one has come up with anything better. I'm not against a modern vernacular in principle. If someone would compose texts as lyrical and singable as BCP and the KJB I would be perfectly content.

 

The advantage of a more poetic approach is that it can be more easily committed to memory which many would regard as a devotional aid. [...] As music can also help to commit words to memory it feels like we are in a horse and stable door situation.

I think this is spot on. In the ten years between becoming a choirboy and leaving school, whole chunks of the KJB, both the language and the stories, embedded themselves in my memory simply by dint of hearing them repeated (and having a couple of priests who were thunderingly good preachers). Nowadays in the Anglican church (at least the ones I have attended), the lesson readers often seem free to choose whichever translation of the bible appeals most to them, so there is not necessarily any consistency even within a given edifice. Not only is the prose unmemorable; we lack the repetition of yesteryear - and the three-year lectionary doesn't help. I seriously wonder how people learn their bible these days if they don't read it by themselves regularly. It's all very well saying that we should all do this, but not everyone does by any means.

 

It is possible to argue rather differently: that while the two second-person pronouns were certainly in everyday use in that period, they were (or could be) still distinct in implied meaning

An excellent point. Thank you.

 

The English had a Civil War......they got Gibbons, Tomkins and Morley.

Apologies, but the pedant in me can't resist pointing out that it was the Reformation that gave us these. The civil war gave us Humfrey, Blow and Purcell. And The Silver Swan is anonymous and not (so far as we know) by Shakespeare. Your points are still valid though. B)

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Funnily enough I was musing through the Anglican Common Worship Eucharist book yesterday during the service thinking how much improved the Eucharistic prayers are compared to the frequently-derided ASB of thirty years ago! I sometimes think Crammer would be overjoyed to think that five hundred years on we still use his services across the land; equally I sometimes wonder if he would be turning in his grave at the thought that five hundred years later we still use his language across the land rather than the current vernacular, the equivalent of its day being that which he gave his life for.

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I think there's the beginnings of a flame war in this thread, which it would be best to avoid. The full story of the genesis of these translations is thirty years of church politics, and doesn't make for very edifying reading.

Correct, on both counts. However, I hope that the following statement will not be seen as inflamatory:

 

When "the Vatican cut through all the guff [...] by insisting on completely literal renditions", it discarded the 1998 ICEL translation, which had been accepted by every single one of the English-speaking Bishops' Conferences.

 

Why the Vatican thought itself better placed than the English speaking Bishops to determine what might be the most appropriate syntax for..er...English language mass texts is definitely not a matter for this forum.

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I've never understood how "Gloria in excelsis Deo" could become "Glory to God in the highest," but now we have the further imposition of, "and on earth peace to Wh of good will."

 

What has 'good will' got to do with it?'

 

I don't know personally, perhaps one day you can give the heavenly host a talking to about clarity of expression, but this is exactly what it says at Luke 2.14. The original Greek has Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας - that last word eudokia is in the genitive, it is accurate to translate 'among men of good will', hence the Latin translation Gloria in excelsis/altissimis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Latin had to resort to the adjective bonus - good and voluntas for will to translate eudokia, but once again it is very clearly in the genitive - to men of good will. Quite what this expression means is subject to endless debate - whose goodwill exactly, God's?, their own? hence translations like 'peace, goodwill towards men' - but it seems perverse to criticise its inclusion in the mass as it is a better rendering of the original scripture.

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Apologies, but the pedant in me can't resist pointing out that it was the Reformation that gave us these. The civil war gave us Humfrey, Blow and Purcell. And The Silver Swan is anonymous and not (so far as we know) by Shakespeare. Your points are still valid though. :)

 

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

 

 

Well, we're both right really, because you can't have a restoration unless something has ended, and I'm very much of the opinion that life ends when the head is separated from the shoulders. B)

 

However, I've learned something about "The silver swan" which I didn't know, and I can't recall how or why I had associated it with William Shakespeare.

 

More importantly, to emphasise a point about the power of words and poetry, I first heard "The silver swan" when I was eleven, and the words instantly became implanted in my head. I didn't have to learn it or hear it again.

 

MM

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More importantly, to emphasise a point about the power of words and poetry, I first heard "The silver swan" when I was eleven, and the words instantly became implanted in my head. I didn't have to learn it or hear it again.

Good King Wenceslas has almost instantly memorable words, sadly that doesn't make it great poetry.

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I don't know personally, perhaps one day you can give the heavenly host a talking to about clarity of expression, but this is exactly what it says at Luke 2.14. The original Greek has Δόξα ἐν ὑψίστοις θεῷ καὶ ἐπὶ γῆς εἰρήνη ἐν ἀνθρώποις εὐδοκίας - that last word eudokia is in the genitive, it is accurate to translate 'among men of good will', hence the Latin translation Gloria in excelsis/altissimis deo, et in terra pax hominibus bonae voluntatis. Latin had to resort to the adjective bonus - good and voluntas for will to translate eudokia, but once again it is very clearly in the genitive - to men of good will. Quite what this expression means is subject to endless debate - whose goodwill exactly, God's?, their own? hence translations like 'peace, goodwill towards men' - but it seems perverse to criticise its inclusion in the mass as it is a better rendering of the original scripture.

 

 

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

 

 

"Some people can never believe in themselves, until someone believes in them."

 

That's a quote from the film "Good Will Hunting."

 

Problem solved! B)

 

MM

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Good King Wenceslas has almost instantly memorable words, sadly that doesn't make it great poetry.

 

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

 

 

There are two people in the room with me, and none of us could recall the words beyond the first two lines. B)

 

I think my version is far more memorable, but sadly, it still isn't good poetry:-

 

Good King Wenceslas looked out,

saw the feet of Stephen

Chilblains,bunions, serious gout

gnarled and all uneven

blistered red by clear frostbite

'cause the frost was cruel

when a poor man came in sight

stole his clothes for fuel

 

 

Anyway, reverting to Latin is no bad thing, because even the worst and cheesiest things take on a whole new perspective:-

 

http://stpatricksmithtown.org/downloads/mu....php#MULTIMEDIA

 

Click on the download and then run or save the file.

 

MM

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Funnily enough I was musing through the Anglican Common Worship Eucharist book yesterday during the service thinking how much improved the Eucharistic prayers are compared to the frequently-derided ASB of thirty years ago! I sometimes think Crammer would be overjoyed to think that five hundred years on we still use his services across the land; equally I sometimes wonder if he would be turning in his grave at the thought that five hundred years later we still use his language across the land rather than the current vernacular, the equivalent of its day being that which he gave his life for.

 

Ah, but Cranmer's English as used in the Book of Common Prayer was not the vernacular of the day, but a deliberately (slightly) archaic version. This had the effect of lending majesty to the prose and making it feel special. It also meant that, over the centuries, the language did not age, but retained its slightly elevated character. I believe most strongly that it is as perfect for use in worship as it ever was.

 

Elsewhere on this thread, it is rightly pointed out that 'Good King Wenceslas' is not great poetry. But it is a great hymn - perhaps partly for this reason. Great poetry does not always make great hymns. The editors of 'Songs of Praise' and 'The Cambridge Hymnal' tried very hard to include more 'proper' poetry, but in general it just didn't come off. on the other hand, the Scottish metrical psalms are sheer doggerel, but no one can deny the imposing effect they have.

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It also meant that, over the centuries, the language did not age,

Hmmm, I have no stats but I doubt this would be a majority view across CofE churchgoers generally.

My experience as a locum across 30 different CofE churches in 2005-8 is that the Prayer Book Communion service is extinct in the context of the main Sunday morning service.

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Hmmm, I have no stats but I doubt this would be a majority view across CofE churchgoers generally.

My experience as a locum across 30 different CofE churches in 2005-8 is that the Prayer Book Communion service is extinct in the context of the main Sunday morning service.

 

 

You are right that the BCP took a terrible bashing, and there are still a lot of (by now) middle-aged clergy out there who think that the new services are the only way to go, but musicians (especially composers) generally did not take to them and congregations didn't grasp what was happening until the deed was done. I offer a few observations:

 

At Belfast Cathedral, it was noticeable that congregations on the third Sunday morning of each month (which was BCP) were larger than on other Sundays. The service was shorter, too, despite having more music in it.

 

Here at St. John's Cathedral, the BCP is used at all principal services and congregations are growing. The 9:15 Sung Eucharist using the modern service is the least well-attended of the five on Sundays.

 

I also look after the music at the local faculty of theology - Queen's College. Quite a few students love, or even prefer, the BCP. Some of them had never encountered it before they came to Queen's and have found that it fills a gap in their spiritual experience. One or two altars have been pushed back against the wall in the last few years!

 

For myself, after years trying to make the modern services work, and to find music to adorn them, coming here was like coming home.

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