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The Oxford Blues Service


Phil T
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"The Oxford Blues Service: A complete Jazz setting of Anglican Evensong according to the Book of Common Prayer, composed by Roderick Williams and sung by Schola Cantorum of Oxford, accompanied by a jazz trio and organ."

 

Did anyone listen to this Service and if so, what did you think?

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Guest delvin146
"The Oxford Blues Service: A complete Jazz setting of Anglican Evensong according to the Book of Common Prayer, composed by Roderick Williams and sung by Schola Cantorum of Oxford, accompanied by a jazz trio and organ."

 

Did anyone listen to this Service and if so, what did you think?

 

I was determined to listen to it open minded. I heard the introit and half of the psalm, then got bored and switched it off so my comment is only of limited value. I thought it sounded quite tacky.

 

Sorry, but I thought it was adapting old words to new styles just for the sake of it. Either ditch choral evensong altogether or leave it alone.

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Guest Barry Oakley
I was determined to listen to it open minded. I heard the introit and half of the psalm, then got bored and switched it off so my comment is only of limited value. I thought it sounded quite tacky.

 

Sorry, but I thought it was adapting old words to new styles just for the sake of it. Either ditch choral evensong altogether or leave it alone.

 

 

Afraid I was perhaps not as open-minded as you. I took one look at the Radio3 schedule of programme details and thought this is not for me. Guess it was another piece of bums on seats experimentation. Several months ago Choral Evensong was broadcast from St Pancras Church, London. I listened to about 15 minutes of it and felt I was intruding on a witche’s coven. The music, if it dared be called that, was dire.

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Guest Lee Blick

I have visions of it being like that 'jazz trio' off the Harry Enfield Show.

 

I'm all for thinking 'out of the box' occasionally. It's amusing hearing the 'crusties' moan on here though.

 

Tradition, tradition, TRADITION...!

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Several months ago Choral Evensong was broadcast from St Pancras Church, London. I listened to about 15 minutes of it and felt I was intruding on a witche’s coven. The music, if it dared be called that, was dire.

 

Now, you see, I thought that was an awesome service. The psalm settings were astoundingly good; the middle part to a very fine contemporary chant, the outer to a kind of block-chord plainchant which built and built and built.

 

I think it's by such experimentation we find our way to future paths. If we don't nurture things like this then the "worship groups" so bemoaned in other threads will inevitably gain strength as a result.

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Guest delvin146
I have visions of it being like that 'jazz trio' off the Harry Enfield Show.

 

I'm all for thinking 'out of the box' occasionally.  It's amusing hearing the 'crusties' moan on here though.

 

Tradition, tradition, TRADITION...!

 

Forgive me for being a bit crusty :(

 

I think we do have to be open to new ideas certainly, although it was not for me others obviously appreciated it, wonder if "Him upstairs did". If RVW used folk song then I suppose there's really no good reason why we should not have a jazz setting but at the same time I think it lacks a certain dignity and some might say respect for God. We wouldn't want worship groups taking over, but surely jazz is better left to the masters of their art who probably do a far better job outside the church. To me at least, the choral tone, (if we can call it that), did not seem to fit well with the jazz style. Again, I could only stand the first bit, so perhaps it improved later on.

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"The Oxford Blues Service: A complete Jazz setting of Anglican Evensong according to the Book of Common Prayer, composed by Roderick Williams and sung by Schola Cantorum of Oxford, accompanied by a jazz trio and organ."

 

Did anyone listen to this Service and if so, what did you think?

 

An interesting experiment - it didn't do much for me though and I quite like trad. jazz. OK maybe we do need to try different things but....perhaps this was trying to be a bit too clever for it's own good.

 

AJJ

 

PS What other styles could be used next? Some of the 'contemporary' stuff that my students bring in might be a starting point!

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I was determined to listen to it open minded. I heard the introit and half of the psalm, then got bored and switched it off so my comment is only of limited value. I thought it sounded quite tacky.

 

 

 

More or less the same here - I gave up halfway through the Mag.

 

I'm sure the singers are very talented - its just that to me, they didn't sound entirely at home with the music.

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There's some background here: http://users.ox.ac.uk/~schola/html/oxfordblues.html

 

I stuck it out to the end. I was willing to be convinced, but in my opinion there were three fatal flaws:

 

(1) The music wasn't really up to it. In particular there was far too much repetition. Repetition's fine when it adds value to the musical "argument", but if it doesn't things just get boring - and here they did. In spades. The psalm was a spectacular failure.

 

(2) For a Choral Evensong much of the music (not all) showed little sense of liturgical awareness. Little of it did anything to enhance the words. The collects were just risible. Some items would have fitted into a gospel service well enough, but mostly the music seemed to be taking itself too seriously. In any case, what is the point of trying to turn Choral Evensong into a gospel service? Isn't it a bit like the EC trying to bang square bananas into round holes? Or something.

 

(3) The Schola Cantorum sounded as if they hated every minute of it. Maybe it just needed more rehearsal: as madorganist says (and as the link above hints), they hadn't got to grips with the style. Heads buried in the scores too much maybe? I suspect that, to sing this stuff effectively, you've got to learn it by heart and throw the score away.

 

Yeah, I know - I'm in a particularly opinionated mood tonight... :(

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Guest Lee Blick

I think the Schola Cantorum got more into it as the service went on.

 

Liked the Responses.

 

The psalm had the potential to be really good, but I got the impression the choir was struggling with the syncopation instead of 'feeling it' and feeding off the accompaniment. The male singers seemed particularly wooden. They would have been better off getting a jazz singing quartet. If they were to get a choir, something like the "Swingle Singers" would be good.

 

Liked the Mag and Nunc. Liked the soloist in Nunc Dimittis. In fact I thought the backing choir performed that well.

 

Liked the Sung Collects in the traditional language! Would have been cool if it was a minister in his collar doing it.

 

His 'jazz theology' mini-address made me smile.

 

The anthem got better as it went on. The O Clap Your Hands bit needed to be a bit tighter. The clapping was weak. Liked the driving force of the accompaniment.

 

Wish someone shut the lid on the organ player's fingers during the intercessions. :(

 

Loved the hymn.

 

Shame no-one thought of doing this at the middle of the previous century then it really would have turned a few heads. ;)

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I think the Schola Cantorum got more into it as the service went on.

 

Liked the Responses.

 

The psalm had the potential to be really good, but I got the impression the choir was struggling with the syncopation instead of 'feeling it' and feeding off the accompaniment.  The male singers seemed particularly wooden.  They would have been better off getting a jazz singing quartet.  If they were to get a choir, something like the "Swingle Singers" would be good.

 

Liked the Mag and Nunc. Liked the soloist in Nunc Dimittis.  In fact I thought the backing choir performed that well.

 

Liked the Sung Collects in the traditional language!  Would have been cool if it was a minister in his collar doing it.

 

His 'jazz theology' mini-address made me smile.

 

The anthem got better as it went on.  The O Clap Your Hands bit needed to be a bit tighter. The clapping was weak.  Liked the driving force of the accompaniment.

 

Wish someone shut the lid on the organ player's fingers during the intercessions.  :(

 

Loved the hymn.

 

Shame no-one thought of doing this at the middle of the previous century then it really would have turned a few heads.  ;)

 

Hi

 

I heard most of it (missed the first 15 mins or so). Interesting concept. To my mind, contemporary language would have been more approriate. As others have said, it was rather stilted - musicians from the Jazz tradition would probably have been a better choice. Some of the accompaniments (piano & Hammond organ) reminded me of the evangelistic crusades of the last century (Billy Graham, etc) The organ playing under the prayers again sounded a little stilted - that derives from Black Gospel traditions -and is sometimes done in contemporary christian music settings (I've done it at times when it's been appropriate).

 

I can't recall a jazz choral evensong before, but jazz-infulenced services were around in the latter half of last century - and didn't Duke Ellington write a jazz mass?

 

Now - what about a CCM evensong? Some settings already exist of psalms and the canticles.

 

Every Blessing

 

Tony

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I think it lacks a certain dignity and some might say respect for God.

 

I only caught about 20 min of it as I was driving home. I enjoyed the music but didn’t think it fitted well into the service. It just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t feel that an act of worship had taken place, only that I’d listened to a jazz concert. I must try and listen to it all on the internet (if my 6 month daughter and wife will let me). :(

 

;)

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Liked the Sung Collects in the traditional language!  Would have been cool if it was a minister in his collar doing it.
Just out of interest, did you find they helped you to worship better?

 

I must say I found the homily patronising. Also, the chap sounded to me as if he was struggling to make an intellectual case for something he wasn't quite sure about. I must listen to it again.

 

My experience of the anthem was the opposite to yours: I thought it started very promisingly (some interestingly different sonorities) and fell apart as it went on.

 

The bit I enjoyed most was the hymn. Perhaps it's significant that it was only an arrangement?

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Guest Lee Blick
Just out of interest, did you find they helped you to worship better?

 

Well no, not sitting here in front of my computer. But if I was there, and they had real jazz singers, it would have lifted my soul. :(

 

I must say I found the homily patronising. Also, the chap sounded to me as if he was struggling to make an intellectual case for something he wasn't quite sure about. I must listen to it again.

 

It is what I would have expected for such an institution. But good on him for experimenting even if he expressed that with some nervousness and hesitancy.

 

My experience of the anthem was the opposite to yours: I thought it started very promisingly (some interestingly different sonorities) and fell apart as it went on.

 

I think once they got over the 'clapping bit' it settled into a nice rythmn, not too unlike a taize chant.

 

I am sure a concept like this could be succesful if time was taken to develop and refine it. I could see it working better in a more intimate church setting.

 

It does make me chuckle how orthodox and conservative people are in here. Thank-goodness I come across more open-thinking clergy and church musicians in real life.

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It does make me chuckle how orthodox and conservative people are in here.  Thank-goodness I come across more open-thinking clergy and church musicians in real life.

 

Lee - not all of us like the same styles of worship.

 

Surely the important points are that:

 

1) We do what we do sincerely to God

 

2) We are happy where we are and in what we are doing.

 

Cathedral-style music is not appropriate for every church - but then, neither is Kendrick/rap/rave or whatever.

 

I have not yet listened to the jazz service. I like jazz. I hope that I will like this - but I shall wait and see.

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I think we all have pride in what we do, which is good, and belief that we are doing the right thing to the best of our abilities, which is also good.

 

Personally, if I was at St Mary the Virgin Ox, I would have taken the welcome and infrequent opportunity to broadcast the organ, which is possibly the finest musical instrument in Oxford(possibly -shire). I would have left the experimental stuff to another place with an inherently less perfect setup for a traditional service. There. That's my opinionatedness for you.

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Guest Lee Blick
Which is exactly the type of 'holier-than-thou' (or, if you prefer: 'better-than-thou') thinking which generally irritates me, Lee.

 

Speaking personally, I have had vast experience (and I really do mean that) over a good number of years with an enormous variety of church (and secular) music. I work with a wide variety of ages, abilities and preferences seven days a week, for most weeks of the year.

 

I have a slight problem with the undercurrent of pride which I detect in your posts, Lee. The impression which you give to me, is that you feel many of us are entrenched and set in our ways, here. You also give me the strong impression that you are convinced that you have it (church music/worship) 'right', whilst many of us do not.

 

I have to say that I find it difficult not to view this as a little arrogant - it also makes me view many of your posts with scepticism.

 

This may well not be your intention; however, that fact remains that this is how your posts come across to me.

 

I do not, for the record, consider myself to be particularly old. I have, in my view, given Kendrick* and the like a fair trial - I can only say, again, speaking personally, that I found this type of worship to be deeply unsatisfying - and that I was unable to 'give' anything, simply because it was quite alien to the type of music which I prefer.

 

It is simply not acceptable to imply that every church should be offering this type of music, either with more traditional music (the mix of which I view as a pointless exercise) or exclusively - which is, as I have said, the impression which you give me.

 

* Incidentally, you criticised me a few months ago for mentioning Kendrick (which I only did because he is a fairly well-known example), because you felt that it was passé.

 

What I meant there is more to modern worship songs than just Graham Kendrick.

 

 

Yes, I take pride in the work I do. My comment was supposed to be taken lightheartedly.

 

All I am offering are my opinions. Quite frankly, I couldn't give a damn if you agreed with them or not, pcnd. :(

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Yes, I take pride in the work I do.  My comment was supposed to be taken lightheartedly.

 

All I am offering are my opinions.  Quite frankly, I couldn't give a damn if you agreed with them or not, pcnd. :(

 

It is sometimes difficult to tell whether you are light-hearted or serious, Lee.

 

No-one expects to be agreed-wth all the time - but neither do I think that the styles of worship which you champion are either suitable or desirable for every situation.

 

Personally I do not care whether you think I am entrenched and 'crusty' - I think that I am not.

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Guest Lee Blick
but neither do I think that the styles of worship which you champion are either suitable or desirable for every situation

 

I have said little about the styles of worship, quite a lot about the musical styles used in worship and I have never said that it should be used for every service.

 

But what I do think is that people have musical tastes which cover a wide range of musical styles perhaps more than in the past. I think it is good to reflect that through the worship to communicate The Word in a parish setting.

 

I have a wide experience of directing church music both with traditional choirs and modern music groups and ensembles. I know that using a range of musical tyles can work in the right circumstances. I am only relating my experiences. I am not saying there is a right way or a wrong way.

 

pcnd, why did you edit your post. Do you not stand by what you originally wrote?

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I have said little about the styles of worship, quite a lot about the musical styles used in worship and I have never said that it should be used for every service.

 

But what I do think is that people have musical tastes which cover a wide range of musical styles perhaps more than in the past.  I think it is good to reflect that through the worship to communicate The Word in a parish setting.

 

I have a wide experience of directing church music both with traditional choirs and modern music groups and ensembles.  I know that using a range of musical tyles can work in the right circumstances.  I am only relating my experiences.  I am not saying there is a right way or a wrong way.

 

Fine - that I can agree with.

 

Obviously you are happy in your church - and I in mine.

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