Traditional or Contemporary?

Well it does to the people who post here... dispassionate and reasoned debate, with a good deal of humour thrown in for good measure.

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IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Fri Sep 06, 2013 10:47 am

Alan wrote: Don't confuse the handful who post here with the SSG's full membership.


I will certainly do my best to remember that.

Southern Comfort, we actually do a very small amount of chant and not at all regularly. I have never tried to do the whole nine yards. On Sunday, we will be singing Here I am Lord, Brother Sister let me serve you, Anima Chriti by Marco Frisina, Christ be beside me, and Lord of all hopefullness. The ordinary will be the missal tones in English. Actually what people complain to me about is the selection of hymns being either too modern or too traditional, depending on what side of the fence the are sitting. I believe, pastorally speaking, that these arguments could be avoided if there was more of an 'official music of the church' if you like. I understand chant to be the music of the church.

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:39 pm

I think many of us will have made a similarly catholic selection (mine is perhaps slightly more 'traditional' than yours this week). I suspect too that there is much more that unites us than that threatens to divide us. Our local variations reflect our local differences - which is, I think, what prompted this thread in the first place.
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contrabordun
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by contrabordun » Fri Sep 06, 2013 1:52 pm

Yes...got a lot of sympathy with the problem, and to be able to say that X is the answer and there's nothing anybody can do about it might well seem like an attractive way through it. I count myself lucky both that the PP chooses the hymns (so I can just smile sweetly, shrug and refer complainants to him!) and also that on the whole his tastes happen to coincide with mine - several notches more trad than on IncenseTom's list.

But I think IT is going to be disappointed if he thinks that this could be solved by ecclesiastical fiat: in the event that there were to be such a thing, then I think it would just result in a return to congregational silence if not exodus.

I really don't see what, in general, is such a problem about having diversity of provision. It should enable everybody to find somewhere that they feel comfortable. If you think that's an unworthy or an undesirable outcome, well, I've got nothing to say to that.
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Southern Comfort » Fri Sep 06, 2013 3:23 pm

IncenseTom wrote:Southern Comfort, we actually do a very small amount of chant and not at all regularly. I have never tried to do the whole nine yards. On Sunday, we will be singing Here I am Lord, Brother Sister let me serve you, Anima Chriti by Marco Frisina, Christ be beside me, and Lord of all hopefullness. The ordinary will be the missal tones in English. Actually what people complain to me about is the selection of hymns being either too modern or too traditional, depending on what side of the fence the are sitting. I believe, pastorally speaking, that these arguments could be avoided if there was more of an 'official music of the church' if you like. I understand chant to be the music of the church.


Then I withdraw my previous remark with apologies. It seems to me that your hymn selection for Sunday is right in the middle, and completely unobjectionable. It could be a geographical thing. In the south, most people would sing all four without batting an eyelid. Perhaps not in the north?

I am not a fan of Frisina's Anima Christi (too bland, and badly crafted in its pastiche style), but people like listening to stuff like that so I assume that is not where the objections lie.

I still think we can disagree about "the music of the Church". I don't think most people in Africa, Central and South America, Asia would recognise your conception of it either. The music of the Church is quite different from the onetime traditional music of the Western Church, and even in the West it's very easy to show historically that the majority of churches in fact never sang it either. If it hadn't been for the 19th-century antiquarianism of Guéranger in France and the Caecilian Movement in Germany, we wouldn't even be having this debate. They are the ones who put plainchant and polyphony into a glass case, admittedly with a desire to improve standards, but which resulted in a certain stifling of the onward movement of creativity of which the Church had always up until then been in the vanguard.

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Fri Sep 06, 2013 4:28 pm

Thank you. My selection for this Sunday is fairly representative of what we do, and despite being 'right in the middle' (I agree with SC wholeheartedly on that one), there will still be a handful of folk on both sides who will find something to grumble about. I don't think it's so much to do with the North but the parish itself. I have been there for knocking on 3 years now and I am told there have always been huge arguments about music there. One example from 30 years ago, is when the organist showed up and the housekeeper said. "I hope your going to play some decent hymns today", to which the organist relied, "I hadn't realised there were any indecent hymns, love".
Another story is of 20 years ago when the parish Sister requested the psalm to be sung and the PP disagreed, so they had a race. He said the psalm and she sang it and whoever finished first won the toss. He won.
I think I'm just looking for ways to reduce all these arguments as much as possible, but it is very difficult to 'unite' people even when we have IMO a pretty good variety of hymns.

I think I might be ready to admit that I am in a 'check-mate' position when it comes to the 'music of the church' - of course it isn't appropriate for every parish in every part of the world. While people can find a home wherever the musical style suits them, I would rather they could feel that in any Catholic parish, and that was the basis for my pursuing the chant argument so strongly.

Oh, and to top it all off, this is the first Sunday of our combined congregations as I have mentioned on another thread, so we'll see how it goes.....

A happy weekend to all!

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by alan29 » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:28 pm

IT, there are people in all parishes who like to just grumble. If its not the music, then its the flowers or the homily, or the way that "her over there" doesn't have silent kids or the shortness of the other one's skirt. Just shrug it off and don't take it personally.
Nice catholic selection of music there. :wink:
haven't come across the Anima Christi - we are blessed to not have a choir.

IncenseTom
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Fri Sep 06, 2013 6:45 pm

alan29 wrote:Nice catholic selection of music there. :wink:


Thanks. I'm not as traditional as I make out on here really. Honest. :D

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by VML » Fri Sep 06, 2013 11:33 pm

This is a fascinating thread. The subject is just so subjective. I have just seen, in the light of this designated Racial Justice Sunday, that 'We shall overcome,' is not only in CFE, but credited to 'Traditional.' Has anyone here ever sung it in church?

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by dmu3tem » Sat Sep 07, 2013 10:43 am

If we return to the original message, I note that it relates to an Anglican church. So, here is a 'narrow' response to the question.

In the Anglican church 'traditional' and 'contemporary' is to some extent determined by the type of liturgy used. So, by this yardstick the following lines could be taken:

Traditional = Book of Common Prayer. Therefore the music is Anglican Chant (psalms and canticles), Merbecke communion service (Renaissance style plainchant refracted through C19th editorial work by Stainer) and other Communion service settings using the Book of Common Prayer texts (also in Cathedrals Anglicans do not flinch from adapted Latin Choral Mass settings), Hymns Ancient and Modern (1950s edition with '100 Hymns for Today' possibly added) or The English Hymnal (original 1906 edition or more modern revised versions).

Plainchant singing - still heavily influenced by Palmer's work (refracting Solesmes as understood in the 1930s) - is still occasionally sung in Cathedrals but appears to be defunct at parish level (though I imagine some might still be sung in a very 'High Church' Bells and Smells place.

Contemporary = Common Worship. Therefore the music is likely to be as follows:

either [1] 'Folk Group' stuff.
or [2] The following materials: Holy Communion: Congregational settings using an Organ led by a choir e.g. the Addington Service. There are many alternative version of the Holy Communion service; but in several cases the relevant texts are identical to those Catholics used between 1973-2011. Theoretically then Mass settings such as Paul Inwood's Gathering Mass could be used for this purpose. What is striking though is that Anglican musicians are very ignorant of much of this repertoire, probably because they do not have access to Catholic hymnals such as Laudate where such settings can be found.
: Psalms: Many parishes have responsorial psalm texts inserted on sheets with readings for the day published by the Redemptorists. All the parishes (not that many) that I know though do not sing them. Superficially they look like many such settings in the Catholic church. However the verse structure does not follow Gelineau patterns; so Gelineau and Bevenot chant cannot easily be used with them.
: Canticles. As far as I know little new music has been written for the new texts supplied by Common Worship. However metricalised texts have been used adapted to well known hymn tunes.
: Hymnals: either Kevin Mayhew's Anglican edition of Hymns Old and New or something like Mission Praise. (1980s publication and already a bit dated).
: Anglicans are familiar with parts of the Taize repertoire and with some of the music composed by Bernadette Farrell and composers of similar ilk. Even so, they are ignorant of many other elements from this 'St Thomas More' style. Anglican choirs, when they 'think modern' tend to reach for Rutter instead. Anthem collections such as that assembled by Knight (in the 1980s) are a fairly common staple. I know of at least one parish, however, that has access to 'modern' editions (by Colin Mawby) of old Cary collections of Catholic Anthems.

My encounters (such as they are) with Anglican musicians suggest that they are still very wedded to SATB choir-Organ setups if they are not 'Folk' musicians. Consequently, outside the field of hymnody, their experience of persuading congregations to sing Holy Communion and Responsorial/Proper settings in church is much more limited than in the English Catholic church. Very little work has been done trying to combine instruments with Organs, choirs and congregations (unlike with stuff from the St Thomas More traditions) and there is a complete divide between Organ-Choir traditions and 'Folk' groups. In addition cantors play are much less significant role than in the Catholic church.

It would be interesting to get more information about what Anglicans are up to; as my information is based on limited experience.
T.E.Muir

alan29
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by alan29 » Sat Sep 07, 2013 11:49 am

following on from the previous post, I wonder if that variety of styles has been brought across with the Ordinariate.

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by londonchurchman » Sat Sep 07, 2013 2:09 pm

dmu3tem wrote:If we return to the original message, I note that it relates to an Anglican church. So, here is a 'narrow' response to the question.

In the Anglican church 'traditional' and 'contemporary' is to some extent determined by the type of liturgy used. So, by this yardstick the following lines could be taken:

Traditional = Book of Common Prayer. Therefore the music is Anglican Chant (psalms and canticles), Merbecke communion service (Renaissance style plainchant refracted through C19th editorial work by Stainer) and other Communion service settings using the Book of Common Prayer texts (also in Cathedrals Anglicans do not flinch from adapted Latin Choral Mass settings), Hymns Ancient and Modern (1950s edition with '100 Hymns for Today' possibly added) or The English Hymnal (original 1906 edition or more modern revised versions).

Plainchant singing - still heavily influenced by Palmer's work (refracting Solesmes as understood in the 1930s) - is still occasionally sung in Cathedrals but appears to be defunct at parish level (though I imagine some might still be sung in a very 'High Church' Bells and Smells place.

Contemporary = Common Worship. Therefore the music is likely to be as follows:

either [1] 'Folk Group' stuff.
or [2] The following materials: Holy Communion: Congregational settings using an Organ led by a choir e.g. the Addington Service. There are many alternative version of the Holy Communion service; but in several cases the relevant texts are identical to those Catholics used between 1973-2011. Theoretically then Mass settings such as Paul Inwood's Gathering Mass could be used for this purpose. What is striking though is that Anglican musicians are very ignorant of much of this repertoire, probably because they do not have access to Catholic hymnals such as Laudate where such settings can be found.
: Psalms: Many parishes have responsorial psalm texts inserted on sheets with readings for the day published by the Redemptorists. All the parishes (not that many) that I know though do not sing them. Superficially they look like many such settings in the Catholic church. However the verse structure does not follow Gelineau patterns; so Gelineau and Bevenot chant cannot easily be used with them.
: Canticles. As far as I know little new music has been written for the new texts supplied by Common Worship. However metricalised texts have been used adapted to well known hymn tunes.
: Hymnals: either Kevin Mayhew's Anglican edition of Hymns Old and New or something like Mission Praise. (1980s publication and already a bit dated).
: Anglicans are familiar with parts of the Taize repertoire and with some of the music composed by Bernadette Farrell and composers of similar ilk. Even so, they are ignorant of many other elements from this 'St Thomas More' style. Anglican choirs, when they 'think modern' tend to reach for Rutter instead. Anthem collections such as that assembled by Knight (in the 1980s) are a fairly common staple. I know of at least one parish, however, that has access to 'modern' editions (by Colin Mawby) of old Cary collections of Catholic Anthems.

My encounters (such as they are) with Anglican musicians suggest that they are still very wedded to SATB choir-Organ setups if they are not 'Folk' musicians. Consequently, outside the field of hymnody, their experience of persuading congregations to sing Holy Communion and Responsorial/Proper settings in church is much more limited than in the English Catholic church. Very little work has been done trying to combine instruments with Organs, choirs and congregations (unlike with stuff from the St Thomas More traditions) and there is a complete divide between Organ-Choir traditions and 'Folk' groups. In addition cantors play are much less significant role than in the Catholic church.

It would be interesting to get more information about what Anglicans are up to; as my information is based on limited experience.


As a confirmed liturgy freak, my exploratory experiences of what happens locally in north London generally supports what you say above. I would add though that the churches near me:

- either chant the whole Psalm congregationally to Anglican chant but the majority sing it Responsorially in the same way that we do. Fewer and fewer seem to use a Gradual hymn.

- Communion settings - The settings used seem to be predominately Dom Gregory Murray, Peter Jones, and Paul Inwood's and the congregations sing these heartily. One church I visited mix and matched different settings for different parts of the Ordinary. I have noticed they also tend to sing Sursum Corda and the priests chant the first part of the Eucharistic Prayer , up to the Sanctus, and the Amen at the end is normally sung rather than spoken.

-Hymnals : They tend to produce bespoke service books with everything contained therein but the Hymns generally seem to come from the New English Hymnal (1985) or Common Praise (2000)

- Choirs: Robed choirs exist in most parish churches, and they tend to sing an anthem at Communion or lead a Taize style chant. As you say they don't have cantors, but to be honest they don't need seem to need them. Everyone sings the hymns and the sung parts of the service without prompting - including in two cases the Salve Regina at the end of mass which slightly took me aback!.

The position is different in the central London churches most of which have professional choirs where the Ordinary is sung to a setting, though a few have an earlier congregational service. But interestingly places like St Paul's Cathedral and St Martin-in-the-Fields now embrace sung Alleluia's, Gospel acclamations, the Mystery of Faith, something which has certainly come from the Catholic tradition.

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by Southern Comfort » Sat Sep 07, 2013 4:44 pm

dmu3tem wrote:There are many alternative version of the Holy Communion service; but in several cases the relevant texts are identical to those Catholics used between 1973-2011. Theoretically then Mass settings such as Paul Inwood's Gathering Mass could be used for this purpose. What is striking though is that Anglican musicians are very ignorant of much of this repertoire, probably because they do not have access to Catholic hymnals such as Laudate where such settings can be found.
<snip>
Anglicans are familiar with parts of the Taize repertoire and with some of the music composed by Bernadette Farrell and composers of similar ilk. Even so, they are ignorant of many other elements from this 'St Thomas More' style.


For what it's worth, most of the Anglican churches across the southern half of the country use or have used the Gathering Mass in its original version, and I gather from our local Ordinariate parishes that this setting is also widely used in Ordinariate services in other dioceses all over the country. Other "St Thomas More" settings, apart from Bernadette Farrell pieces already mentioned, include Peter Jones's Gloria, Ernie Sands's Sing of the Lord's Goodness, and Paul Inwood's call-response G minor acclamations in their unrevised form. I am sure there is much else besides. Anglican parishes also appear very familiar with the music of the Iona Community as well as Taizé.

It's only in the areas of responsorial psalmody, gospel acclamations, hymns and choral anthems that the Anglican parish repertoire tends to diverge from ours, as Thomas has pointed out.

One hymn frequently found is "Here I am, Lord", but in the David Peacock arrangement where it is notated half a bar adrift, so that the "Lord" of I, the Lord of sea and sky comes on the first beat of the bar instead of the third beat, which produces a really weird sensation. (Peacock apparently transcribed it from a recording and never saw the original music.)

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by IncenseTom » Sun Sep 08, 2013 8:43 pm

Having re-read this thread today, I wish to apologise for my negative comments about the SSG which were undeserved. The church is undoubtedly the richer for the work the SSG does in a variety of ways.
I like chant, and would still like to do more, but I had a fairly stressful week last week and can be just a little bit stubborn when I want to be. Mea culpa.

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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by musicus » Sun Sep 08, 2013 10:56 pm

Thank you; I'm sure we all appreciate that. The SSG and its forum is a broad church and all reasoned argument and opinion is welcome. I hope we'll be hearing much more from you.
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dmu3tem
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Re: Traditional or Contemporary?

Post by dmu3tem » Mon Sep 09, 2013 3:34 pm

Ref. music in Anglican churches.

Yes, interesting divergencies between what I encounter in the North of England(mainly rural parts of the NW) and what others find in the South and in London; although this is no more than what one would expect, given regional differences in Catholic behaviour.

The divergencies (so far) that rivet my attention are:

[1] The greater awareness in the South of Paul Inwood and other 'St Thomas More' stuff
[2] The decline of the Gradual Hymn - no sign of that in the parishes up here that I know
[3] A consequent adoption of Responsorial Psalmody

However in the Anglican parish church at my mother's home village in Bucks these Southern trends do not seem to apply. They have their own 'home grown' communion setting, a four hymn sandwich (with Gradual Hymn), no responsorial psalmody; and this is reckoned to be quite a vigorous and 'go ahead' church. Perhaps this may be symptomatic of a 'town-country' divide; or maybe one is simply up against the almost limitless variety that seems to surface when you look at particular churches.

It would be worth exploring these divergencies further.
T.E.Muir

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