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Rochester Choral Evensong

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To hear musical education at its best, perhaps it is eastern europe which now leads the way. The choirs in the Czech Republic are impressive enough, and they exist elsewhere too, but in Latvia, choral-singing is almost a championship sport!

 

People are polite and still dress well, so perhaps we should all pack-up and move there?

Why spoil it for them? :blink:

 

The last issue of Cathedral Music had an interesting article on the musical set-up at Leeds Cathedral. I don't have it to hand, but if I remember correctly it has four choirs (two of them girls') and five(?) music staff who have taken over responsibility for delivering the music curriculum in the local schools. Maybe that is the way to go? I daresay the article presents a somewhat rose-tinted view and I did find myself wondering whether it all smacked just a little of a local mafia moving in and taking over, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing and, if the photo of the combined choirs is anything to go by, it does appear to be working. Of course, being RC and in your neck of the woods you'll doubtless know all about this - and possibly have a different slant on it.

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MM, forgive me, but you confuse me. You say, rightly, that the the world wants facts, the church responds with articles of faith and platitudes, and the victim of it all is truth. You also state that the early church didn't have creeds. This isn't strictly true. Paul refers to the simple statement 'Jesus Christ is Lord' - the first, if basic, creed. What we know as The Creeds grew from a need to express what the truth you rightly seek actually is. Reflect - every article in the creeds ('only begotten'... 'born' ... 'suffered' ... 'died and was buried' ... 'rose again' ... etc.) is there to deny an actual, real, expressed heresy, which at some point or other threatened the church's understanding of truth.

 

As for the Bible, the OT is largely the Jewish scriptures, which the early church certainly DID have, and the rest was written by them, or rather, their leaders, and were compiled over a period of time, after consideration, formal and informal, to include those writings which reflect or proclaim the Christian message, and exclude those which do neither. These things take time, and are no worse for that.

 

As for science, I cannot recall a single pronouncement of any scientist that affects to any degree what I understand to be the Christian faith, with the sole exception of the timescale of Creation. (But that story is about truth rather than about history, so even that doesn't matter.) Indeed, the more I hear from the scientists, the more staggered I am by the sheer cleverness of Almighty God!

 

Then there's the matter of what you call a Medieval mindset. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, to be honest. If we are talking about, for example, crime and punishment, then I would be with you all the way. But the fundamental truth, expressed in BCP and contemporary services, rightly remains - mankind is a fallen race, and God has stepped into history as one of us to redeem us from our fallen state. That is not a medieval mindset, that is eternal truth, and will never change. Only the words to express it. CE is just one of the possibilities, and very lovely it is, too.

 

As for VH's comment about a business needing to respond to the needs of its customers - you're right. They haven't changed, though - we still stand in need of redemption. What has changed is that modern man doesn't believe any longer that he is fundamentally corrupt and offensive to God, and if he does, he doesn't care. Perhaps this is the Medieval mindset MM refers to? If it is, surely we need to restore it, not forget it or pretend it doesn't matter.

 

Finally, clergy - I seem to recall that Jesus Himself had quite a bit of trouble with them!

 

A long post - my apologies. How did such an innocent enquiry get to this?

 

My regards to you all.

 

John.

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As for VH's comment about a business needing to respond to the needs of its customers - you're right. They haven't changed, though - we still stand in need of redemption. What has changed is that modern man doesn't believe any longer that he is fundamentally corrupt and offensive to God, and  if he does, he doesn't care.
Yes, John, but my point was that, whatever the eternal truths may or may not be, if the church doesn't adapt to engage effectively with "modern man" it's going to die on its feet. Which is what seems to be happening - the problem apparently being not that the church is not adapting, but rather that it is not doing it in the right way. The decline in church-going is ample proof of that. Now this does not mean that adaptation should do away with decent church music. It might even be foolish to do that, considering that attendence at cathedral services is actually rising year on year. Not by much, admittedly, but rising they are. Food for thought there.

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MM, forgive me, but you confuse me. You say, rightly, that the the world wants facts, the church responds with articles of faith and platitudes, and the victim of it all is truth. You also state that the early church didn't have creeds.

 

As for science, I cannot recall a single pronouncement of any scientist that affects to any degree what I understand to be the Christian faith, with the sole exception of the timescale of Creation. (But that story is about truth rather than about history, so even that doesn't matter.) Indeed, the more I hear from the scientists, the more staggered I am by the sheer cleverness of Almighty God!

 

Then there's the matter of what you call a Medieval mindset. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, to be honest. If we are talking about, for example, crime and punishment, then I would be with you all the way. But the fundamental truth, expressed in BCP and contemporary services, rightly remains - mankind is a fallen race, and God has stepped into history as one of us to redeem us from our fallen state. That is not a medieval mindset, that is eternal truth, and will never change. Only the words to express it. CE is just one of the possibilities, and very lovely it is, too.

 

A long post - my apologies. How did such an innocent enquiry get to this?

 

 

 

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

 

I'm pondering the problem of trying to be simple and profound at the same time.

 

I think it is important to select your "scientist". I can tell you an amusing true story, concerning myself and the late Prof.Sir Fred Hoyle who, bouncing me on his knee when I was 4, tried to respond to my childlike question, when I asked, "Do you believe in God, Fred?"

 

"I can't see God through my telescope, so I don't believe in him, but I'll tell you who I do believe in," he replied.

 

"Who?" I asked.

 

"Dan Dare!" He answered.

 

Such is the difficulty of communication across the divide of generations.

 

The problem is absolutely fundamental......a big-bang is a one-off event....or is it?

 

Were there many "big bangs?"

 

Does the universe expand and then collapse and, if so, is that a different kind of "steady-state?"

 

Everything else is pure random evolution.

 

Try explaining THAT by reference to "ears of wheat" and "shepherds tending flocks", and you wouldn't get very far in scientific circles, and yet, this is exactly what many believers burden us with.

 

You could go the other way, and use the language of pure mathematics such as E=MC squared, but what does that tell us about "truth" or "transendency?"

 

I would suggest it tells us absolutely nothing, and yet, there IS the truth that the Christian message transcends time and space; speaking as relevantly to-day as when it was first delivered, and that's a different kind of miracle.

 

Were the church to concentrate on that which IS truthful and unchanging, whilst leaving science to others who know better, perhaps there is hope and the basis for faith.

 

But what are those without love?

 

It should be the love which transcends all understanding, and not the pseudo-science, surely?

 

As I say, I know not the answers, but the questions are fascinating.

 

MM (Why is there not a "Smilie" halo?)

 

 

PS: A long reply? An innocent enquiry? I don't think you have to apologise for caring about something.

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Why spoil it for them?  :blink:

 

The last issue of Cathedral Music had an interesting article on the musical set-up at Leeds Cathedral. I don't have it to hand, but if I remember correctly it has four choirs (two of them girls') and five(?) music staff who have taken over responsibility for delivering the music curriculum in the local schools. Maybe that is the way to go? I daresay the article presents a somewhat rose-tinted view and I did find myself wondering whether it all smacked just a little of a local mafia moving in and taking over, but I'm not sure that's a bad thing and, if the photo of the combined choirs is anything to go by, it does appear to be working. Of course, being RC and in your neck of the woods you'll doubtless know all about this - and possibly have a different slant on it.

 

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

 

Early days, but it looks promising.

 

I think I'm the only other organist who actually gets paid something in the Leeds Diocese.

 

Not a lot, of course!

 

MM

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I've checked the article about Leeds and see I got one or two facts wrong. The cathedral actually has six choirs: two boys', three girls' and a professional adult choir, with 18 choral scholars. There are three full-time and four part-time music staff, the DoM being responsible for liturgical music in the 98 schools of the diocese. The music department "has chosen to take over responsibility for a large part of the music curriculum within the schools of the diocese". Otherwise I more or less got it right. :blink:

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Guest Roffensis
Sorry Richard - take a look at church history & the history of church music - there has been constant change, and "traditional services" are NOT inherent in the church!  If they were, every church world wide would be the same.

 

Tony

 

Sorry Tony, but Choral Evensong IS inherent to the Anglican church, and was written to be used in tandem with the BCP, which should never have been bowdlerised either, presuming that us idiots out here do not understand proper English, and have to put up with even the Lords Prayer being made into newspeak, while decent poetry goes right out of the window. "The quick and the dead" make one think, whereas "The living" is just so obvious. Choral Evensong cnnot be altered, any more than the choral forces that have sung it so beautifully and are also the traditional vehicle to do so. That wont stop the philistines from trying to undermine it elitist or non audience participated, and forget any hope of the choir singing on behalf of the people, that reasoning has also gone by the wayside, far better to have Mrs Baggage screeching top Cs to Stanford in C, whicich is basically where we will head. Sorry to be so blunt but you cannot alter perfection, and we do currently have it in CE.

 

Every blessing from above,

 

Richard.

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Guest Roffensis
MM, forgive me, but you confuse me. You say, rightly, that the the world wants facts, the church responds with articles of faith and platitudes, and the victim of it all is truth. You also state that the early church didn't have creeds. This isn't strictly true. Paul refers to the simple statement 'Jesus Christ is Lord' - the first, if basic, creed. What we know as The Creeds grew from a need to express what the truth you rightly seek actually is. Reflect - every article in the creeds ('only begotten'... 'born' ... 'suffered' ... 'died and was buried' ... 'rose again' ... etc.) is there to deny an actual, real, expressed heresy, which at some point or other threatened the church's understanding of truth.

 

As for the Bible, the OT is largely the Jewish scriptures, which the early church certainly DID have, and the rest was written by them, or rather, their leaders, and were compiled over a period of time, after consideration, formal and informal, to include those writings which reflect or proclaim the Christian message, and exclude those which do neither. These things take time, and are no worse for that.

 

As for science, I cannot recall a single pronouncement of any scientist that affects to any degree what I understand to be the Christian faith, with the sole exception of the timescale of Creation. (But that story is about truth rather than about history, so even that doesn't matter.) Indeed, the more I hear from the scientists, the more staggered I am by the sheer cleverness of Almighty God!

 

Then there's the matter of what you call a Medieval mindset. I'm not quite sure what you mean by this, to be honest. If we are talking about, for example, crime and punishment, then I would be with you all the way. But the fundamental truth, expressed in BCP and contemporary services, rightly remains - mankind is a fallen race, and God has stepped into history as one of us to redeem us from our fallen state. That is not a medieval mindset, that is eternal truth, and will never change. Only the words to express it. CE is just one of the possibilities, and very lovely it is, too.

 

As for VH's comment about a business needing to respond to the needs of its customers - you're right. They haven't changed, though - we still stand in need of redemption. What has changed is that modern man doesn't believe any longer that he is fundamentally corrupt and offensive to God, and  if he does, he doesn't care. Perhaps this is the Medieval mindset MM refers to? If it is, surely we need to restore it, not forget it or pretend it doesn't matter.

 

Finally, clergy - I seem to recall that Jesus Himself had quite a bit of trouble with them!

 

A long post - my apologies. How did such an innocent enquiry get to this?

 

My regards to you all.

 

John.

 

Because we all love the church so much, as it loves and appreciates us all. :D:D A lot of clergy tend to interfere in peoples lives, where ultimately things need to be left ones own concience. In other words point the way out to us if you must, and then leave it our own decision. But no, Clergy also stick their big noses in everything, politics, you name it, so much for humanity. The church does not account for true humanity, but simply wishy washes its way past it, and sets down a lot of ancient hog wash as black and white, which life isn't, any more than music. If the church wants to diversify it's attitudes to music then it needs to take its own medicine first and deal with its own attitudes which are positively antiquated in many quarters, not least the Evangelicals :blink: , before blaming music for its own shortcomings. The added bonus is that the people might just be sitting on the pews to listen to the next twang band, or even join in. ;)

 

R

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Choral Evensong cnnot be altered, any more than the choral forces that have sung it so beautifully and are also the traditional vehicle to do so.
But it has been. Cranmer would be spinning in his grave if he knew that we sing hymns. Metrical psalms he might have allowed, but certainly not the bulk of what appears in our hymn books. And the concept of male altos is more than a bit iffy too.

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But it has been. Cranmer would be spinning in his grave if he knew that we sing hymns. Metrical psalms he might have allowed, but certainly not the bulk of what appears in our hymn books. And the concept of male altos is more than a bit iffy too.

 

Articles Of Religion - XL

Concerning the alto voyce and Its Use in worship

 

It is a thing playnely repugnant to God's word for a man of mature years to sing the praises of God in a queanly voyce. Rather, as Saint Paul saith, men shall be men and boys shall be boys. Or something.

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Roffensis, how can the clergy (and laity as well, for that matter), proclaim Christian truth and avoid politics? They have to connect at some point, as both are about people and their actions and reactions, although their viewpoints are inevitably different. I do agree with you, though - the blame for the problems faced by the church cannot be laid at the door of the music (which is where we started I think), any more than it can be laid at the door of the clergy, TV, football, education, science, Sunday trading, or any other single object of blame. So much has conspired to weaken the church, including the words and actions of some of the clergy, causing us to lose contact with the general public (whatever that may mean) and we see the consequences in our everyday lives. And there we're back with politics again, I'm afraid. A question, by the way, for those whose knowlege of these matters is less rusty than my own. Is it not true that S S Wesley was so appalled at the low standard of choral singing that he set about reviving it, and that the universal tradition of CE as we know it dates from that revival. Little more that 150, 200 yrs ago? Still worth preserving (I was listening to CE from Clare College earlier - lovely stuff - I did enjoy it)

 

MM, thank you - you're right, I do care, I hope about the truth. I have a profound respect for science and scientists, but truth is not what science is about. Rather, it is about facts, and that isn't necessarily the same thing. Questions raised by science are not always the sort of questions the church should be trying to answer - that is not what we are for. They are usually about 'how'; we are about 'why'. Ask a scientist 'why' and eventually he'll have to admit he doesn't know. And I agree completely, love has to be the key to it all, though how you show that love to a people who don't seem to want to connect with the church we know and love is a different question, and a difficult one. My apology was because I felt as if I was going on rather - well, I am a Reader!

 

 

Regards to you all

 

 

John.

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A question, by the way, for those whose knowlege of these matters is less rusty than my own. Is it not true that S S Wesley was so appalled at the low standard of choral singing that he set about reviving it, and that the universal tradition of CE as we know it dates from that revival. Little more that 150, 200 yrs ago?
S. S. Wesley, did have quite a bit to say about the state of church music, but the tradition of choral Evensong can be traced back right to the First Book of Common Prayer. Several settings of the Evensong canticles survive from the Edwardine years, as do a fair number of "antems". The Elizabethan years saw the introduction of what eventually became Anglican chant (though the psalms of people like Tallis, Byrd and Gibbons are through-composed in measured notation) and, of course, choral Preces and Responses. It's not at all surprising that it goes back so far. Historically it was the choir's job to do the singing. The First Book of Common Prayer has one or two rubrics along the lines of "Here the clerkes shall sing", but doesn't contemplate congregational singing. Metrical Psalms were sung by the people, but I think that was normally done before the service began - sorry, I'm a bit vague about these.

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S. S. Wesley, did have quite a bit to say about the state of church music, but the tradition of choral Evensong can be traced back right to the First Book of Common Prayer. Several settings of the Evensong canticles survive from the Edwardine years, as do a fair number of "antems". The Elizabethan years saw the introduction of what eventually became Anglican chant (though the psalms of people like Tallis, Byrd and Gibbons are through-composed in measured notation) and, of course, choral Preces and Responses. It's not at all surprising that it goes back so far. Historically it was the choir's job to do the singing. The First Book of Common Prayer has one or two rubrics along the lines of "Here the clerkes shall sing", but doesn't contemplate congregational singing. Metrical Psalms were sung by the people, but I think that was normally done before the service began - sorry, I'm a bit vague about these.

 

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

 

We musn't forget the politics in all this.

 

In the 18th century, almost no-one went to church.....Choral Evensong or not. I forget where, but it may have been Westminster Abbey, when records show that only about a dozen people or so turned up for Easter morning communion.

 

Along came John Wesley and other non-conformist churches, and the first thing they did was preach with passion and fill the chapels and churches with music; much of it newly written.

 

Dr Gauntlett went the rounds, teaching pointed psalm-singing and introducing new hymns. The Baptist following was immense, with three hour long services which captivated people. Throughout the Victorian period, a vast repertoire of music was introduced; ranging from "Messiah" to "Olivet" in quality, with some good standard fare lying in between.

 

Church music was new and exciting, and as time went on, this filtered down to the humble streets of working-class areas. The Choral Societies were a natural offshoot of this great choral upsurge, and perhaps the annual "Messiah" was the focal point of village and town life.

 

I came into music right at the end of that great tradition, yet it inspired me, even though the writing was on the wall and numbers were declining.

 

Choral Evensong as we know it, owes much to the non-conformist element, who demonstrated the importance of very good music in worship. Naturally, not wanting to be upstaged, the C of E fought back; establishing a class-act in the process and a wealth of hymnody.

 

As a boy of about 12, I sang as head chorister in a parish choir with 24 boys and 16 men, and the annual RSCM service was quite something, when perhaps 1,000 voices would join forces in the cathedral.

 

Since "they" destroyed the music, they can't even justify an evening service, as the congregation would be measured in single figures.

 

The idea that CE is a tye of perfection is, of course, quite absurd today. Not only is the language used completely unintelligable to normal people, the music is totally divorced from the mainstream stuff heard on radio and TV.

 

In some ways there is a parallel between now and thw 18th century. In the 18th century, choral foundations were not singing much in the way of contemporary repertoire in classical style, but singing the music of the baroque period. It was left high and dry because it was an anachronism, and it was new music and new poetry which revived interest in church and church music, but that got into full swing only a hundred years or so later.

 

I look around the churches now and wonder what happened to theology. We seem to be in an age where everyone toes a particular line of pious indifference, staid detachment, conservativism (with a small c) and even outright fundmentalism.

 

Where are the risk takers and thinkers?

 

MM

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Guest Andrew Butler
======================

 

Where are the risk takers and thinkers?

 

MM

 

St Mary the Virgin, Oxford perhaps - see next Wednesday R3 Choral Evensong. :angry:

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St Mary the Virgin, Oxford perhaps - see next Wednesday R3 Choral Evensong.  :angry:

 

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

 

Well, I hope the music is good....I quite like jazz and blues.

 

That apart, I note that it is still a BCP service, which makes it no different to any other apart from the apparent absence of the canticles.

 

Therefore, one must assume that any element of risk or any evidence of thinking, would seem to be restricted entirely to the music.

 

As usual, the music promises to be ahead of the words.

 

MM

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Guest Lee Blick
look around the churches now and wonder what happened to theology. We seem to be in an age where everyone toes a particular line of pious indifference, staid detachment, conservativism (with a small c) and even outright fundmentalism.

 

Where are the risk takers and thinkers?

 

They are out there in the community, workplace etc but not necessarily in the church anymore.

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While on the subject of Evensong, has anyone ever heard of anyone doing a Cantate Domino and Deus misereatur instead of a Mag and Nunc? Has anyone ever set these as a pair? There are settings of both psalms in the Wanley Partbooks which were presumably intended for use as canticles, but they are not paired and I'm not aware of any later versions.

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While on the subject of Evensong, has anyone ever heard of anyone doing a Cantate Domino and Deus misereatur instead of a Mag and Nunc? Has anyone ever set these as a pair? There are settings of both psalms in the Wanley Partbooks which were presumably intended for use as canticles, but they are not paired and I'm not aware of any later versions.

 

My local Church does this every Lent and Advent - but sadly only to Anglican chant. I'd be interested to hear of any more adventurous settings.

 

JJK

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While on the subject of Evensong, has anyone ever heard of anyone doing a Cantate Domino and Deus misereatur instead of a Mag and Nunc? Has anyone ever set these as a pair? There are settings of both psalms in the Wanley Partbooks which were presumably intended for use as canticles, but they are not paired and I'm not aware of any later versions.

 

Yes - we have a number of settings which we use, most of them 'home-grown' and discovered in the church library.

 

If you desire more details, VH, please PM me.

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Cantate Domino is Psalm 98 and Deus Misereatur is Ps 67 so there are settings. cpdl (www.cpdl.org) kists several, but has none as paired 'setting's. There do seem to be rather more settings of the morning 'alternatives' (Benedictus and Benedicite) eg Stanford A/C, Sumsion Bb. Maybe most places either didn't bother with the alternatives or, like us have substitued Compline and/or Vespers for evensong in Lent/Advent. Is this others experience?

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