Monday, July 28, 2014

O Come Let Us Sing

Who and what are we, or specifically, what and who am I; or was I? It has been clear to me for as long as I’ve been aware of being an Episcopalian, an Anglican Christian, which predates my consciousness. There was a time when to me Anglicanism was a sound, a sound in worship, precisely and uniquely the sound of Anglican Chant, the four-part harmony we raised in worship every Sunday morning in the years of my life. 

Anglican Chant was lost to parish worship life in the liturgical reform of the second half of the twentieth century when the Roman Church sank into banal liturgy, and we morphed into plain vanilla. Anglican Chant has been forgotten and lost, and we seem incapable of recovering it. Or not interested. I tried at more than one church that I served and the musicians, not raised with it, could never “get it” or hear the magical wonder of it. Even if they could muster the SATB choir voices to lead it, they couldn’t grasp not observing standard metronomic counting, which does not go in Anglican Chant, where a note is held over several words here and skipped lightly there, and they couldn’t match words to notes. It’s the timing, isn’t it. Of timing and times, there are times when I think the grasp of it must have been genetic. Eventually I always gave it up. What brings this to mind? 

The Collect for next Sunday, actually:

Proper 13    The Sunday closest to August 3
Let your continual mercy, O Lord, cleanse and defend your Church; and, because it cannot continue in safety without your help, protect and govern it always by your goodness; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

This collect for the Church dates to 6th/7th/8th century Gelasian and Gregorian liturgies and is in the medieval Sarum missal. With what is, I reckon, my myopic point of view, I cannot always tell that what happens in the Church and to the Church is in answer to it. Maybe God has a different point of view to mine. God usually does.


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