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Re: [liturgy-l] Re: "Anglo-catholic"

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  • Tom Poelker
    (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
    Message 1 of 73 , Sep 3, 2004
      (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
      that night.

      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?"

      Tom Poelker
      St. Louis MO

      cantor03@... wrote:

      >I haven't thought of it exactly this way, but this is really true.
      >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.
      >David Strang.
      In a message dated 8/27/04 4:29:08 PM Eastern Daylight Time,
      fcsenn@... writes:

      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?

      Tom Poelker

      [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
    • John Seboldt
      ... ^^^^ Putting it mildly... But, humorously, the truth of this was acknowledged by Garrison Keillor in a fine little sketch about an arrogant substitute
      Message 73 of 73 , Sep 6, 2004
        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
        Anglicans..." -

        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...

        John Seboldt
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