Re: [liturgy-l] Re: "Anglo-catholic"
- (Since this response is much delayed,
I've appended some of the preceding message thread.
The oldest message of the thread is at the bottom,
and my current response is here at the top.)
I wish what Frank said about RC Latin Mass parishes using the best of
sacred music were true in St. Louis. I am sure that I would appreciate
and enjoy that on occasion. The primary Latin Mass parish here is St.
Agatha, south of downtown and near Anheuser-Busch brewery. Visiting
there was like a trip back to the worst of the Masses of my childhood.
The people were not a congregation but individuals with their heads
bowed over their hand missals or rosaries. The servers are
under-trained for the Solemn Mass and slovenly in their appearance. The
organist drags the tempo, and the "choir" creaks along with the usual
lack of blending and dominance by a singer who thinks more highly of her
own voice than it deserves. I also wonder why they use the old schedule
of readings instead of the present lectionary or at least read the old
selections in English.
Some of David Strang's thoughts are close to what I originally had in
In the congregation I referenced, I felt that much more attention was
given to the quality of the musical patrimony than to bringing the
congregation to prayer. The congregation was left to be audience to the
performances of others, musicians and preacher. The experience was akin
to attending a production at an American opera house of a century or
more ago, all very formal and passive rather than participatory. Like
an opera in an institutionalized setting, the emphasis seemed to be on
preserving cultural treasures from the past which an educated audience
can appreciate, but the opera is not able to meet contemporary
theatrical standards or criticism nor communicate much to a general
audience. The service was like an historic recreation in a museum.
Much was beautiful, but it did not draw the community together nor guide
the members to full, conscious, and active participation.
Before someone brings up the possibility of divine praise through formal
music or the active participation of the members of such an audience
through their appreciation of the beauty God has made possible and even
lavished on humanity, let me say that those things are true. It is just
that those experiences are not liturgical and should be part of other
events, not the celebration of the Eucharist.
None of the great liturgical compositions of the past are "intrinsic" to
the liturgy, not Bach cantatas, not Gregorian chant. They are cultural
artifacts of their times while the liturgy calls for continuing
inculturation. Much of the valuable creation of the past was from that
lengthy era when people merely "heard" a service; they did not
participate in the liturgy except as observers of others whom they often
saw as performing holy acts on their behalf. That is the pagan and
theocratic model of temple worship by priests which also proclaims the
glory of the nation through the expensive worship of that nation's
particular god. It is not the liturgical model of scripture or of the
pre-basilican house churches.
Beautiful music, vestments, buildings and iconography are merely
appurtenances to the liturgy. They call to be restored when the culture
has declined or become trite or distracted by popular trends.
Liturgical renewal is very much about identifying what is essential and
what is accretion. The value and appropriateness of the cultural
appurtenances tend to increase with the size of the assembly as we
earlier discussed. The original Eucharist was Jesus and a few friends
in a borrowed room. Never will there be a better sermon preached than
those words shared while reclining around that table. Never will the
presence of Jesus in the bread and wine be more powerful than it was
As much as I would like to design a wonderful church (Would you like to
see my sketches?), as much as I enjoy singing in the assembly or choir
or alone, as much as I appreciate beautiful vestments and well-trained
ministers, as much as I love drama and as hard as I try to apply my
drama skills to liturgy, I have to ask, "Would we all be better off if
on most Sundays just a few gathered in a room, heard the word, spoke the
psalms, shared the faith, shared the bread and wine, and encouraged each
other to do all the difficult little things that Christian charity,
justice, prudence, and hope would have us do differently from what
America's culture expects?"
St. Louis MO
>I haven't thought of it exactly this way, but this is really true.In a message dated 8/27/04 4:29:08 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
>There are those of use who treasure the great musical patrimony
>of the Church: the chant, polyphony, and orchestral masses, the
>cantatas, the traditional Western hymnody, etc., etc., and there
>are those who consider all these totally archaic, irrelevant artifacts
>fit for museum or concert hall at best, or beyond redemption and
>best junked entirely at worst.
>There is the identification of these things which have been intrinsic
>to liturgy in the past by some as Eurocentric. This acorn is not so far
>removed from the oak tree that he will ever cease to embrace the Eurocentric.
>Eurocentric IS my culture.
>It IS a culture war.
This is why, in my book *New Creation: A Liturgical Worldview," I have a chapter on "Liturgical Culture." As the public act of a social group, liturgy is a form of culture. It is also enacted in a world of competing or complementary cultures by actors who participate in several cultures. The "worship wars" are really "culture wars."
Frank C. Senn
Christian McConnell <cdmcconnell@...> wrote:
That brings me to my next attempt to complicate matters. I get a
little suspicious of any theoretical formulation that speaks of
relating liturgy (or liturgical principles) and culture as though
they're two different things. Although not reducible to mere
culture, liturgy is itself culture; 'twas ever thus, and it cannot be
otherwise. I'm not sure I know of any liturgical principles that
have been revealed to us apart from the historical dynamics of human
culture. Indeed, they can't be, since human beings are inescapably
historical and cultural, and such revelation would fall on deaf ears,
as it were.
IOW, some churches might place a priority on some cultural
expressions and others on supposedly abstract liturgical principles,
but really, they're just prioritizing different culturally-mediated
aspects of the liturgy. That's not to say there's no objective
grounds for making those choices; I'm no relativist. But I think the
terms need to be defined critically.
Tom, that's a very good distinction. Especially among Roman Catholics, most of the Latin mass parishes combine either the Novum Ordo liturgy or the Liturgy of Pius V with the best of sacred choral music, and it has a draw. A number of Lutheran congregations have restored Bach cantatas to their place in the liturgy, and that draws people. We've done that at Immanuel, but this year we are also commissioning a new cantata to be composed for Reformation Day by a young Chicago composer. I'm sure it will have a very contemporary sound, but it is applying the principle of the past to the present culture. - Frank Senn
Tom Poelker <TomPoelker@...> wrote:
I noted the emphasis on choral music and pre-modern decor among the
elements for these liturgical restoration, Anglo-Catholic churches and
noted some of the descriptions of the congregations. It reminds me of
when I had to do inter-denominational liturgical evaluations and ended
up describing a high church Episcopal congregation as perhaps
worshipping culture more than the Lord.
I wonder if the difference between the restored liturgy congregations
and the renewed liturgy congregations is that one has retrieved what
seems to them to be the cultural best of the past while the other has
attempted to bring to the present vernacular what seems to them to be
the best liturgical principles of the past?
[Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
- At 05:27 PM 8/26/2004 -0500, Scott wrote:
>SBH - Service Book and Hymnal (1958, I think...some Anglican influences)^^^^
Putting it mildly...
But, humorously, the truth of this was acknowledged by Garrison Keillor in
a fine little sketch about an arrogant substitute organist from Minneapolis
who came to Lake Wobegon to impose his highbrow taste on the country
bumpkins... he openly acknowledged that (liberally paraphrasing here):
"the Lutheran hymnal was put together by a committee... and you can tell
that some selections were from the dissenting members... the closet
naturally I thought most of the SBH when I heard that and smiled...
Listen here (takes a while to get to the organist part)
A little digression...