What aspects of Anglican patrimony have been most important to you in your sanctification?

We at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society hope to discover, identify and pass on those aspects of Anglican patrimony that deepen our Catholic faith, aid us in our prayer life and sanctification, further our theological understanding, and help us to evangelize.

We are not about preserving anything in amber or in creating a cute Catholic theme park with Anglican distinctives.  Instead, we have a patrimony that is good, true and beautiful and welcome in the Catholic Church that is relevant to saving souls, transforming our lives and influencing the culture.

So, I would be interested in hearing from you (and from my fellow bloggers) what it is you most cherish and why you think it is important to preserve and hand on.

Since I was exposed to Episcopalian Sunday school as a child, and my father sang in the best Episcopalian church choirs in the Boston area, I would say music is an important part of our heritage.  My father was not a believer when he started out, but I think singing sacred music grew on him over the years.  Going to a Christmas Eve service with him and hearing rare but beautifully arranged carols sung with perfection is something I’ll always associate with Anglican patrimony.

But those churches such as Church of the Advent,  Trinity Church and All Saints had music endowments and could afford to hire the best organists, choir directors and singers.   Here in Ottawa, we have an organist and cantor, but rely on congregational singing.  But it was in our small parish that I was exposed to Anglican chant and Anglican plainsong and even if we don’t do it perfectly it’s still wonderful to worship that way.  How I love it when we have a choral Evensong, or a sung Mattins.  Sometimes, I even sing the office when I’m home by myself.

Brother John-Bede sent me a link to this article about choirs in the Church of England by Madeleine Davis entitled “From the choir stalls to the altar” that talks about how choirs for children are drawing their families into the church.

WHEN the General Synod debated the renewal of the Church of England last year, it fell to one of its youngest members, Hannah Grivell, to mention an aspect of church life with a centuries-old record of bringing children through the Church’s doors. Young people were joining her church, and getting confirmed, after joining the robed choir.

“We have got to stop telling people what they need and want, and start asking what helps you grow in faith and come to church every week,” she argued (News, 15 July 2016).

Her story is echoed in other parishes. When Richard Bendelow agreed to become organist at St Leonard’s, Loftus, in Cleveland, one of the most deprived parishes in the country, he did so on one condition: that he could start a children’s choir. The last one had been disbanded in 1969. Today, there are 14 members — expected to be 20 by Christmas — who sing every Sunday morning. They have been recruited from schools (none of which are C of E) where teachers “jumped at it as a unique opportunity to give free musical education to white working-class kids on Teeside”, the Rector, the Revd Adam Gaunt, reports.

Snip

TOM DAGGETT, who leads the music-education programme at St Paul’s Cathedral, founded the Hackney Children’s Choir in 2014. He had been been “surprised by the [low] level of provision in terms of music education, and also the lack of children’s voices heard on regular occasion in church”. Children were recruited from nine schools, and now sing regularly, including at the cathedral. He is also director of music at St-George-in-the-East, in London, which last year planted a congregation based around a choral eucharist at the church school, sung on the first Wednesday of the month.

A “good deal of singing” takes place in C of E schools, he thinks, “but what is being slightly lost is the focus on sharing a real range of music with kids, including the choral tradition, and also the skill of being able to read music and get through lots of material. The older generation across the country sings really well, because they went to church and sang in school.” He also laments that “funding for music education has been totally decimated, especially at secondary-school level.” The Church can “speak into this issue in really imaginative ways”.

He regrets the low expectations of children’s abilities. “Standards were so high, and people believed that children could achieve great things as musicians at an early age,” he explains. “Now, too many people dumb down music for kids. . . One school spent a whole term learning to sing “Amazing grace”, which is diabolical. You should be able to teach that in two minutes, and have them singing it from memory, frankly.”

How can Personal Ordinariate parishes keep the musical tradition alive when there is no money to throw at it (as the article advises)?   How can the Anglicanorum Coetibus Society help smaller, poorer communities discover some of this musical tradition without a big endowment?

We’ve got some ideas, but we would be open to suggestions and contributions to our effort.

One thing is crucial—that Mass not become a concert or a performance.   My friend Mary who passed away a couple of years ago used to object to singing in church settings that seemed to focus on performance.  “Ichabod!” she would say, meaning, “The glory has departed.”

The ideal is beautiful music, like the music in heaven that is also worshipful.

How is your community dealing with music, choirs, teaching musical patrimony to children and adults who may come from non-Anglican backgrounds?

To be continued, as I look at other aspects of our patrimony I have found essential to my spiritual growth.

 

3 thoughts on “What aspects of Anglican patrimony have been most important to you in your sanctification?

  1. For me, it has definitely been the ‘way’ we do liturgy. The seriousness of liturgy done well, with good music, dignified ceremonial and thoughtful preaching. I’m very blessed indeed to get all of these in a non-Ordinariate Catholic parish, but its not the norm. Almost as important is the pastoral aspect. The Vicar in the average parish here in England would know his people very well in my Anglican days, and that is not the case in the equivalent Catholic parish, where people who habitually go to one of the Sunday Masses don’t know those who attend the others, and it is virtually impossible for a priest to know 600 people.

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    • Jeff wrote: “For me, it has definitely been the ‘way’ we do liturgy. The seriousness of liturgy done well, with good music, dignified ceremonial and thoughtful preaching.

      That actually is very Catholic, even though far too many Catholic parishes — and even whole dioceses — have abandoned it.

      Jeff wrote: “Almost as important is the pastoral aspect. The Vicar in the average parish here in England would know his people very well in my Anglican days, and that is not the case in the equivalent Catholic parish, where people who habitually go to one of the Sunday Masses don’t know those who attend the others, and it is virtually impossible for a priest to know 600 people.

      The sense of community and bond between pastor and parishioners is very achievable even in a large parish, but there are very few Catholic parishes that do it well. Back in the early 1980’s, while a commissioned officer aboard the nuclear-powered missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9) during a complex overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Washington, I encountered two Roman Catholic parishes in that city that were each very vibrant in their own way. The parish of Our Lady Star of the Sea was a very traditional parish with a very traditional church and a parochial school whose parishioners, with their pastor’s consent, took the initiative to organize a schedule of watch-keeping to support perpetual adoration of the blessed sacrament. But it was Holy Trinity Parish — a parish with a very contemporary church (rectangular, with the sanctuary in the middle of a longer side and pews on three sides of it so nobody was very far from the altar) that possessed a much more visible experience of community. During a conversation with the pastor one day, he explained to me that the parish staff had recognized that most parishioners assist in mass at the same time every Sunday so they decided to start by forging community around each of the Sunday masses. What grew out of that initiative was pure heaven — an incredible sense of unity in worship and common purpose, with due effort to organizing proper liturgical celebration celebrated in a manner that was truly worshipful.

      Of course, that was about 35 years ago. I have no idea how these parishes have evolved since my departure from Bremerton in January of 1983.

      Norm.

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  2. Deborah wrote: “But those churches such as Church of the Advent, Trinity Church and All Saints had music endowments and could afford to hire the best organists, choir directors and singers.

    You are onto something very profound here: the existence of endowments to support the parish, the pastor, maintenance of facilities, musical programs and staffing, liturgy, etc., in many Anglican parishes is an important element of Anglican patrimony that most ordinariate congregations undoubtedly lack. It’s difficult to direct available funds into endowments when a parish is struggling to pay off debt taken on to buy its facilities, but ordinariate congregations should look toward establishing endowments for these purposes as they get their financial footing.

    Of course, the ordinaries also need to be looking at establishing endowments for the needs of the ordinariate administrations, including pension plans for ordinariate clergy and for their lay staff.

    Norm.

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