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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.  We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

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

 

 

This is quite an interesting point Tony.

 

Worship isn't something I really DO very well at all, and being equally blunt, church services tend to bore me to death unless they contain good music.

 

Maybe I don't like being preached at, possibly because I can preach back just as effectively. So all that tends to be left are the rather tedious words of the service-books, which nowadays don't even pass muster as literary art.

 

Prayers are more often than not parodies of a type of moralistic thinking which went out with the ark, and which rarely "strike a chord" in today's world.

 

Frankly, I'm not surprised that most of the churches are almost empty these days.

 

If people want to have a following, there's as much to be learned from the "Pied Piper" as there is from the "Good Shepherd" I suspect.

 

MM

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This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.
In my case I'm more than happy to eat humble pie and admit that I was wrong.

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In my case I'm more than happy to eat humble pie and admit that I was wrong.

 

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

 

Nonsense!

 

"Woodbine Willy" would have been right there with you.

 

B)

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude. We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I totally agree with you Tony. I think constructive criticism is very useful, if only both organists and clergy would come down from their ivory towers!

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

 

Frankly, I'm not surprised that most of the churches are almost empty these days.

 

 

 

MM

 

Whilst doubtless true of England today, (though not for all denominations- it seems that some evangelical sects are doing rather well) it is certainly not so here in Ulster where it is standing room only for major festivals and 70 - 100 on a normal Sunday, nor in the USA nor in much of Africa etc...

 

But that said I do sympathise with MM, although it is the liturgy rather than the sermons that I find the biggest turn off. Judging from what I see on TV these days if and when we return to England we shall have considerable trouble finding a place of worship that offers a traditional Anglican service. Those who like jigging about and touchy-feely Christianity are entitled to, and are welcome to it, but I would sooner shoot myself than take part in what passes for Anglican worship in some parish churches these days. I would follow others and convert to Rome but I am told that the situation there is every bit as bad with the added problem of recurrent allegations about paedophile priests etc. Where do you go if you want to find a service that is conducted in a quiet and dignified fashion, apart from the bits (such as the music) which are intended to show somewhat more assertiveness ?

 

BAC

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Clergy and organists are cat and dog. I don't see why it should be so... or actually, I do, as long as both are slightly narcissistic and hate to share the limelight. I personally don't actually LIKE the limelight very much, which once led my vicar to say "At least I'm proud of my vanity, but you flaunt your modesty, that's much worse." (It sounded quite a lot harsher in German.....)

 

As a believer, I am uncomfortable with all displays of division between those who are responsible for plowing the fields of divine service. But I often think I know more about liturgy than anyone else around.... the theologians who were ordained here in the sixties and seventies didn't think much of that sort of thing. Free-thinking was encouraged. As I once said to my boss, "I'm not really interested in what you don't believe, how about telling us what you do". From my point of view, if it were in accord with church dogma for once, I might be quite comfortable with that. I try to listen to sermons, but often give up after 20 minutes - well, we're lutheran here, you know. I have such a deep desire to hear, for example, 10 minutes worth of "baby in the manger" in the freezing cathedral on Christmas Eve, and not 25 on how sinful and materialistic we all are, especially at Christmas. That's why I adore our Bishop.

 

For a "real" musician, work in the church can be a dull grind. One didn't really hone one's skills to that extent in order to play hymns..... it's no real wonder that one's attention often strays to the next challenging bit. And that is why it is hard to be a church musician and stay a believer, or one of the reasons for it, the other one being of course the insider's view of the clergy, who turn out to have clay feet, just like the rest of us.

 

There's little to choose. And I have heard a lutheran pastor bragging about the fact that he ALWAYS leaves the church during the anthem, not even just the voluntary, so it's not really a parallel universe after all.

 

Cheers

Barry

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Whilst doubtless true of England today, (though not for all denominations- it seems that some evangelical sects are doing rather well) it is certainly not so here in Ulster where it is standing room only for major festivals and 70 - 100 on a normal Sunday, nor in the USA nor in much of Africa etc...

 

But that said I do sympathise with MM, although it is the liturgy rather than the sermons that I find the biggest turn off. Judging from what I see on TV these days if and when we return to England we shall have considerable trouble finding a place of worship that offers a traditional Anglican service. Those who like jigging about and touchy-feely Christianity are entitled to, and are welcome to it, but I would sooner shoot myself than take part in what passes for Anglican worship in some parish churches these days. I would follow others and convert to Rome but I am told that the situation there is every bit as bad with the added problem of recurrent allegations about paedophile priests etc. Where do you go if you want to find a service that is conducted in a quiet and dignified fashion, apart from the bits (such as the music) which are intended to show somewhat more assertiveness ?

 

BAC

 

Hi

 

If you really want traditional, there's usually somewhere that it can be found - at least in Anglicanism. Locally, St. Chad's, Manningham (a Keble College foundation) or, a little further afield, Bolton Abbey I gather does a 1662 service.

 

The fact is, though, that most people today find that sort of language foreign, and don't relate well to formal (look at how teaching has changed in schools, etc. - I make no comment as to the rights or wrongs of this - it's a fact that we have to live with). Hence, it follows that more informal styles of worship are likely to be more readily accepted - althoguh even that is changing, with a greater seeking for spirituality - but finding the church irrelevant and boring.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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In the congregation in hich I am a member, there is no getting away with it for anyone.

 

This is of course due to the fact that we have lost our church (with a beautiful II/26 Schuke in it) to another congregation that does not use the organ, and that we now are having our services in a room that seats about 50 or 60.

 

We also have lost our regular pastor, so that when organising the services (which is my task) I choose out of a pool of a dozen or so retired pastors, most of which are happy to step in. That is, some of them, when first on the phone, asked how the services were attended, and when I told them (about a dozen people form the adamant core), their promise to come sometimes sounded a bit sceptical.

 

But then there they are, standing but a few steps in front of the cogregation, and are forced to speak to people they can literally look into the eyes. The sermons of those who repeatedly came to our modest "worship facility" have improved quite a bit (yes, there is still a mildly ascending learning curve beyond the age of 65). No need to do anything else than listen. I believe the best you can do is hold people responsible for what they say, make comments, and ask back, so they actually realize that they speak to someone in the first place, and only in the second place about something.

 

We are glad to have the most gifted and dedicated organist, who came from Corea to study in Leipzig and earn excellent grades in her exams. We arranged for her to practise in our former church (the congregation there has put a fee on organ practice hours, which we are happy to pay).

 

Of course, in our services she plays the 1910 Bechstein Grand. Schumann does very fine in postludes, you know, as does the odd Chopin Prélude. (Yesterday, we even had Burgmüller.)

 

Best,

Friedrich

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We are glad to have the most gifted and dedicated organist, who came from Corea to study in Leipzig and earn excellent grades in her exams. We arranged for her to practise in our former church (the congregation there has put a fee on organ practice hours, which we are happy to pay).

 

Would that be Yun Duk Lee?

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Would that be Yun Duk Lee?

No, her name is Hee-Jung Min. She studied with Arvid Gast, and now takes lessons with Martin Schmeding. Quite a passionate player, she is.

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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.  We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.  We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.  We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Hi

 

This is all very humerous - but what does it say about the organists' professionalism, involvement in the worship of the church, and general attitude.  We're quick enough to complain about noise during voluntaries and lack of support and interest in church music - but are some organists really any better than the clergy they complain about?

 

I can be blunt too!

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

You are quite right Tony, how many organists only accept their position as access to an instrument? However they are not as bad a bellringers. Ours (and most others from what I hear), ring before a service, leave by the tower door and go straight to the pub (24 hour opening has a bit to answer for) - we never see them at a service.

 

Fortunately there are many organists who are committed Christians.

 

Best wishes,

 

Frank

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We are glad to have the most gifted and dedicated organist, who came from Corea
Off topic, but I was interested to note that of the 30 competitors at the 2004 Odense International Organ Competition, 14 countries fielded one cadidate, Germany and England each fielded 2, but there were no less than 12 from Korea.

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Ah, the lovely Hee-Jung. I wondered what happened to her.

She will play a recital on said Schuke after Easter. I am very much looking forward to that. Martin Schmeding thinks she is a real asset to his class here.

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Clergy and organists are cat and dog. I don't see why it should be so... or actually, I do, as long as both are slightly narcissistic and hate to share the limelight. I personally don't actually LIKE the limelight very much, which once led my vicar to say "At least I'm proud of my vanity, but you flaunt your modesty, that's much worse." (It sounded quite a lot harsher in German.....)

 

As a believer, I am uncomfortable with all displays of division between those who are responsible for plowing the fields of divine service.

 

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

 

A very senior clergyman once told me that there are only two types of clergy. There are those who want to be the centre of attention, and those who want to enjoy power over people.

 

I don't think he was wrong, but the truth is, organists are exactly the same, and I suspect that this may apply to almost anyone working in field of "the performing arts."

 

There is an old saying; the origin of which I cannot recall, which states, "Handel's 'Messiah' has probably gained more converts than all the sermons ever preached."

 

It must therefore be disturbing to those engaged in spreading "the word" when they discover that people may well be responding better to either the art of music or the beauty of literary prose.

 

It may just be, that when I suggest that I don't DO worship very well, it is possibly because on the one hand, I find it a distraction from the things which really matter to me, and on the other hand, a barrier to progressive enlightenment; judging by the sermons I've heard over the years.

 

MM

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Hi

 

If you really want traditional, there's usually somewhere that it can be found - at least in Anglicanism.  Locally, St. Chad's, Manningham (a Keble College foundation) or, a little further afield, Bolton Abbey I gather does a 1662 service.

 

The fact is, though, that most people today find that sort of language foreign, and don't relate well to formal (look at how teaching has changed in schools, etc. - I make no comment as to the rights or wrongs of this - it's a fact that we have to live with).  Hence, it follows that more informal styles of worship are likely to be more readily accepted - althoguh even that is changing, with a greater seeking for spirituality - but finding the church irrelevant and boring.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

 

 

Thank you Tony. It is reassuring to learn that there is some hope of being able to find a church which I would feel comfortable attending .

 

As to the reform  of modern liturgy aimed at making it more easily  comprehensible to  people at the present I have to say I find the process largely specious, ill thought through and inconsistently executed by those who do try to put it into practice. In what follows I am aiming at a trend rather than the views of any particular individual. There will undoubtedly be some who have thought this matter through and arrived at a coherent conclusion. If it satisfies them, and their auditors, that is fine by me. I do not want to prescribe for others any more than I want others to prescribe for me. So let us consider the points made -

 

(1) The language of 1662 is "difficult". Well it is certainly not current vernacular (see below) but my father and father-in-law, both of whom left school at 14, were able to understand it. Why are the much more educated (!!) people of today incapable of doing so ? Perhaps because it requires effort and thought and work ?? But whoever said the way of the cross was easy ? Or supposed to be easy . I had always thought that was the route to the other place - "straight is the way... etc"  "Irrelevant and boring" - there is an old chinese proverb which says if man hit self on head with book and hear hollow sound should not assume there is nothing in the book. Perhaps those with the stated reaction should reflect on that message and consider that perhaps personal gratification is not what the gospel message actually is.

 

(2) Why do the modernisers who think that present day congregations cannot be expected to grapple with the language of 1662 (do these people never read Shakespeare ? are marginal notes out of the question ?) have no problem with constantly using metaphors and illustrations which relate to an agrarian society with which most of them have absolutely no connection, and of which they have even less knowledge ? Few here, I suspect, possibly excepting MM, are that familiar with the work of a shepherd , and equally few familiar with the proper care of fig trees. Even those who are so familiar are more likely to know modern day practice than what was state of the art in the Roman Province of Judea. Yet when metaphors are needed in a sermon or a prayer these are just as likely as not to be the ones selected. I recognise the problem created by the fact that God became man at a particular point in history in a particular geographical location but granted the modern trend in teaching which succeeds in imparting very little knowledge, even about such relatively recent events as the Second World War what realistic chance is there of the "modern" congregation having any familiarity with the social history of first century Palestine ?

 

(3) The language is not the current vernacular. That may not be an unmixed blessing since any double entendres are much more likely to escape detection. We have been provided with a certain amount of anecdotal evidence on this Board (some of which may well be apocryphal) that not all preachers are as alive to this issue as they might be , eg, the reference to "poke" in the context of an address at a wedding or the question "Do you have a hole in your bottom" ? While anybody at all can easily write a line like that, I fail to understand how anyone who was alive to the nuances of language would not pick up on it when they read their work over. The obvious implication is that not every sermon is as carefully considered and revised as it might be.

 

(4) Speech has its own rhythms and cadences as does music. The AV and the BCP are wonderfully evocative in this regard. Many modern attempts at revision succeed only in destroying the poetry without adding to comprehensibility a single jot. Yesterday in Church our First Reading (what was wrong with First Lesson) was taken from Exodus 20 . I do not know what the version used was but anybody who thinks "alien in your town" (I thought of ET) is an improvement on "stranger within thy gates" would presumably also consider William McGonagall a superior poet to Blake or Pope or Kipling or Milton.

 

I think the tone of my previous contributions to this thread indicates that I am not without sympathy for the problems which the clergy face in trying to propagate the gospel message , nor do I underestimate how much more difficult this task has become in a modern world where people are quick to speak of their rights but much slower to acknowledge their duties. But I do not think the answer is to infantilise the message or the medium by which it is expressed.

 

Best wishes,

 

Brian Childs

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SORRY! I'LL TRY THAT AGAIN IN TECHNICOLOUR

 

As to the reform of modern liturgy aimed at making it more easily comprehensible to people at the present I have to say I find the process largely specious..........

 

So let us consider the points made -

 

The language of 1662 is "difficult". Well it is certainly not current vernacular (see below) but my father and father-in-law, both of whom left school at 14, were able to understand it..............

Why do the modernisers who think that present day congregations cannot be expected to grapple with the language of 1662 .

 

 

IMHO, the problem is not simply restricted to languge; even though that IS a problem. 1662 was, after all, "state-of-the-art" vernacular when it was written, and if the reformation taught us anything, it is the importance of vernacular language as the ideal.

 

Few here, I suspect, possibly excepting MM.............

 

I may have friends who resemble sheep, but thus far, I do not have sheep who resemble friends. (All right! All right! So what if I do know how to pick up a lamb and sling it in the back of a trailer?)

 

I recognise the problem created by the fact that God became man at a particular point in history in a particular geographical location ............

 

"Fact" or article of faith?

 

Speech has its own rhythms and cadences as does music.

 

Many modern attempts at revision succeed only in destroying the poetry ...... "alien in your town" (I thought of ET) is an improvement on "stranger within thy gates" would presumably also consider William McGonagall a superior poet to Blake or Pope or Kipling or Milton.

 

Good heavens, even "immigrants in the community" is better prose than this!

 

"Beautiful bridge of the silvery Tay" probably has greater poetic value than the rubbish found in liturgy to-day, but of course, we are in the situation whereby faith has not been able to overcome the barriers to belief. Consequently, the writers of so-called 'modern-liturgy' have attempted to retain the theology of the medieval mind whilst clothing it in the shroud of pseudo-modernism.

 

Dare I suggest "new wine in old bottles?"

 

MM

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(1) The language of 1662 is "difficult". Well it is certainly not current vernacular (see below) but my father and father-in-law, both of whom left school at 14, were able to understand it. Why are the much more educated (!!) people of today incapable of doing so ? Perhaps because it requires effort and thought and work ??

 

(2) Why do the modernisers who think that present day congregations cannot be expected to grapple with the language of 1662 (do these people never read Shakespeare ? are marginal notes out of the question ?)

Like you, Brian, I mourn the passing of the old order. At the same time I can't help but admire the way in which the modern church accomplished a twentieth-century Reformation every bit as far-reaching as the sixteenth-century one almost without anyone realising that that was in fact what was happening. Make no mistake, the Anglican church today is not the church I was brought up in, though as far as music goes the cathedrals have not be too affected (girls' choirs being the obvious development).

 

You and I don't find the 1661 language difficult and I agree that anyone should be able to get used to it with a bit of effort. But, as you surmise, there's the rub. It's the soundbite culture again, isn't it? People want to be spoon-fed with easily digestible and enjoyable titbits. They want instant gratification. And the church needs to engage these people. It's a sad fact that, these days, no one poking their head round a church door for the first time is going to take this sort of language seriously. Non-believers very commonly assume that all church-goers are inherently hypocrites and the last way to reach these people is to use language which will seem to them precious and pious. I hate the modern way and it's why I don't have a church job, but I don't pass judgement - except on what's right and wrong for me personally.

 

This evening one of my wife's violin pupils asked for help with a GCSE composition. She had a tune in her head, but no clue about how to convert it into musical notation, because they don't teach rudiments at school any more. It's not the teachers' fault. The syllabus has to cater for all abilities so is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Anything cerebral doesn't get a look in.

 

I'm not really right-wing; I just sound like it. ;)

 

Few here, I suspect, possibly excepting MM, are that familiar with the work of a shepherd
I think you'll find that pcnd's the expert on sheep around here. :o

 

MM: I'd call it "old wine in new bottles". Perhaps it should have been left to mature where it was? :o

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You are quite right Tony, how many organists only accept their position as access to an instrument? However they are not as bad a bellringers. Ours (and most others from what I hear), ring before a service, leave by the tower door and go straight to the pub (24 hour opening has a bit to answer for) - we never see them at a service.

 

Fortunately there are many organists who are committed Christians.

 

Best wishes,

 

Frank

 

Hi

 

You're right on both counts! I'm glad that we don't usually have bells in free churches (I only know of 2 examples in the UK). I have come across one bell-ringing team that attended the service - but that's pretty unusual I gather.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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Like you, Brian, I mourn the passing of the old order. At the same time I can't help but admire the way in which the modern church accomplished a twentieth-century Reformation every bit as far-reaching as the sixteenth-century one almost without anyone realising that that was in fact what was happening. Make no mistake, the Anglican church today is not the church I was brought up in, though as far as music goes the cathedrals have not be too affected (girls' choirs being the obvious development).

 

You and I don't find the 1661 language difficult and I agree that anyone should be able to get used to it with a bit of effort. But, as you surmise, there's the rub. It's the soundbite culture again, isn't it? People want to be spoon-fed with easily digestible and enjoyable titbits. They want instant gratification. And the church needs to engage these people. It's a sad fact that, these days, no one poking their head round a church door for the first time is going to take this sort of language seriously. Non-believers very commonly assume that all church-goers are inherently hypocrites and the last way to reach these people is to use language which will seem to them precious and pious. I hate the modern way and it's why I don't have a church job, but I don't pass judgement - except on what's right and wrong for me personally.

 

This evening one of my wife's violin pupils asked for help with a GCSE composition. She had a tune in her head, but no clue about how to convert it into musical notation, because they don't teach rudiments at school any more. It's not the teachers' fault. The syllabus has to cater for all abilities so is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Anything cerebral doesn't get a look in.

 

I'm not really right-wing; I just sound like it.  :wacko:

 

I think you'll find that pcnd's the expert on sheep around here.  :o

 

MM: I'd call it "old wine in new bottles". Perhaps it should have been left to mature where it was?  :o

 

Dear VH

 

Oh dear, did I sound judgmental. I really did not mean to but I must have got carried away. I would also like to think I am not so reactionary as the post make me appear. There are many modern hymns and even some worship songs I like. In my youth I was quite taken with Michel Quoist's Prayers of Life. There is a lot of Victorian hymnody which is distinctly sub-standard and I do recognise the need to appeal to the present generation in a language they can understand. At bottom I think my objections are basically twofold :(1) the all or nothing nature of the reform which means that a range of choice is not offered to suit various tastes- I have no wish to ram the BCP down anyone's throat but why should I be expected to jump about and clap my hands - when I did that as a child I got smacked for it. I have absolutely no objection for those who feel comfortable with it worshipping in this fashion. My only point is that I, apparently you, and several others I know do not feel comfortable behaving in this way. I thought the injunction was "be still and know that I am God" - not jump about and make a noise. Perhaps I should become a Quaker but then no music !! (2) That a good deal (but by no means all) of what passes for modernisation is not really so. The language is often not that of the present but of 30, 40 even 70 years ago. I also think one ditches tradition at one's peril : it is rather more significant in giving us a sense of who we are and what we are supposed to be about than is frequently realised. Once gone it is gone for ever. It's a bit like good manners really which also appear to have bitten the dust. When I was growing up I knew how I should behave towards others in terms of opening doors, offering seats on trains or buses etc. Now I have n't a clue.

 

Cheers,

 

BAC

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I may have friends who resemble sheep, but thus far, I do not have sheep who resemble friends. (All right! All right! So what if I do know how to pick up a lamb and sling it in the back of a trailer?)

 

That may not make you a fully qualified EU certified sheep operative but it gets you closer to the concept of being a "good shepherd" than a great many others on this board and the majority in the community today. Ignorance of such matters is widespread: remember the story about the boy who did not know fish did not come out of the sea with batter on it ? When I made an exception for you I was thinking of your tale of being attacked by the mother while rescuing a lamb from a barbed wire fence. You see I do pay careful attention to what you write. Sorry if it appeared I was referring to other references to sheep that have appeared from time to time ; such was not my intention.

 

"Fact" or article of faith?

 

 

Well now, I think I should refer you to Tony. However Handel in Messiah wrote I know that my redeemer liveth: NOT I believe/think that my redeemer liveth so some have clearly treated it as a fact.

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