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Anglican Parish Church Music

 
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Michael Cox



Joined: 22 Apr 2002
Posts: 4
Location: Auckland NEW ZEALAND

PostPosted: Tue Apr 23, 2002 9:30 am    Post subject: Anglican Parish Church Music Reply with quote

Greetings from New Zealand. Very Happy
Would anyone like to submit their thoughts on the present state of parish church music across the Anglican communion?
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Organist & Director of Music
St Mark's Anglican Church, Remuera, Auckland
Vice-President - Auckland Organists' Association
Master of Arts Student in Organhistoriography
University of Waikato
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jwatkins
Site Admin


Joined: 14 Apr 2002
Posts: 90
Location: Coulsdon, Surrey

PostPosted: Fri May 03, 2002 10:54 am    Post subject: Re: Anglican Parish Church Music Reply with quote

Michael Cox wrote:
Greetings from New Zealand. Very Happy
Would anyone like to submit their thoughts on the present state of parish church music across the Anglican communion?

I think it rather depends on what you think of as "music". Wink
I go to Croydon Parish Church, and they have two choirs - "boys and men" and "women" - with full choral eucharist and evensong every Sunday and choral eucharist on most major feastdays. In the London area, you should always be able to find a church with music to suite your own tastes.
So, in London - thriving and varied - outside of London?
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James



Joined: 15 Mar 2003
Posts: 4

PostPosted: Sat Mar 15, 2003 10:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

why: try out http://www.cyberhymnal.org/ and http://cpdl.snaptel.com/ for sacred classical choir music.

I think one thing that's often neglected when it comes to music in churches, including many Anglican churches, is "how does it sound?" Beauty is really one of the most important qualities of music.

Contemporary music is really a lot harder to do than one might think. The rock & roll ideal seemed to imply that anyone could grab a guitar and sing and be ingeneiously spontaneous, but really this art is a lot harder than getting a choir to sound fairly decent with music that is written with the intention of being sung. Much contemporary church music also really misses the boat when it comes to being "contemporary." Most of it, to my tastes, sounds like what you'd expect to hear as backround music in 1978 in the lounge of a Holiday Inn somewhere in Kansas. Or at least that was the ideal, and how it actually sounds makes you long for that Holiday Inn lounge.

A lot of older hymns were written with singing in mind and can be sung well by a choir without too much difficult. If you have an accompanying pianist who doesn't bang the instrument too hard or throw in lots of filler, and has a sensitive touch, you're doing ok. And if more congregations started singing with hymnals with the music printed in a way that's easy for singing in parts, there's a good chance congregational singing would be revived, that the skills necessary would eventually be fostered.

Monophonic singing can get people real excited, especially if the chapel's dark and they're singing off of overheads. You have that youth-camp feel, you can almost imagine the campfire and the guy with the guitar. But in well-lit chapels where most people are over 25, I have that feeling: where's the campfire? The absence of the extra mood-accompanying elements points rather painly to the fact: these monophonic things have a lot more to do with sentiment than beauty. If you can convince yourself to get into the mood, they're fine. But if you can't, and you should assume that many won't who haven't been born-and-bred in the church or taught to accept it, it will seem pretty silly. Or in congregations where anyone who can play an instrument is up there on a stage playing in a jamboree-style way: this would be great if we were at some kind of rally as sort of a statement, but music needs to be more than making statements.

Sonic beauty is not the only element of importance in hymns, of course. But it is important, and it's terribly missing in many churches. If an honest listen tells you your more contemporary stuff is only sustained on a wave of sentiment, and is a far shot from sounding beautiful, you can lower your expectations on being "contemporary" and try stuff that was written to be easy to sing, but has a beautiful elegant simplicity.

There's no point, though, to starting a revolution when people are happy with the music, even if it sounds silly. In many places, people have been taught for generations that church music has to be contemporary or it will alienate people, and are more or less conditioned into liking the music they hear. A big congregation probably will need to change gradually.
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