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The Lectionary, Music and Words: The Via Media

‘Mad Priest’ is not so mad after all
The Revd Jonathan Hagger may call himself mad, but he knows a hawk from a handsaw and (despite his tease) a tart from a Tartar. Maybe he is ‘but mad north-north-west: when the wind is southerly’ he seems to me to have the wisdom of Solomon himself.

As I read Kathryn Rose’s beautifully expressed piece on the point of view of the organist, I saw my own problems with ‘Drisella‘ in quite a different light. She may have been a tiresome woman (she was) but I do begin to see the situation from her standpoint.

Our not-so-mad priest identified in the comments on Kathryn Rose’s post that the problem was chiefly one of communication, together with a little good will.

… the ideal way to plan the music of a church is for the worship leader, organist (or whatever) and, if there is one, the leader of the choir, to come together to decide on the hymns. The worship leader is usually word orientated and meeting together allows a greater number of hymn texts to be used because the musicians will be able to suggest tunes that they and the congregation know when the set tune for a hymn is unknown or just plain bad. At these meetings the worship leader can explain the theme he or she wants to dominate the service (which may be different to the recommended theme). Then I believe it to be good manners for the worship leader to allow the musicians to choose any anthems etc…Both worship leaders and musicians must never lose sight of the fact that they are doing it for the congregation which, if they are not pleased, will not bother turning up again.

This dollop of common sense needs to be circulated to every parish church in the land, in my opinion.

Of course, knowing what the answer is is not the same as being able to apply it. But it is a start.

Thank-you, Jonathan.

3 comments on this post:

UKViewer said...

I think that MP hits the nail squarely on the head. The service isn't about the Worship Leader, the Organist or Choir, it's about providing an act of worship which is a meaningful experience for the whole congregation and to lift the worship in praise and glory of God which is what it is all about anyway.

Sometimes, we forget and concentrate on the minutia, forgetting that what we are about.

Having said that, all worship needs to be conducted in a sense of reverence and respect and with perhaps a little like a performance.

I can remember my wise DDO explaining to me that this is an aspect of Ordained Ministry, but also applicable to all who lead worship that your performance in that role while with a little theatre, must not overwhelm the worship. If done right, the leader or presider becomes part of the act of worship with the people.

The same obviously goes for the music and hymns chosen. Its about combining all into the worship so, perhaps the worship leader has the role of a facilitator, to be the conduit between the people and God and God to the people.

22 June 2011 17:02
UKViewer said...

I should have said also that the Sermon, which often seems a sticking point of these things, is in itself a Sacrement, 'The Sacrament of the Word' therefore, it's essential that the theme of the sermon accords with the season or feast and that all music fits into that.

I read a wonderful book by Michael Ramsay called The Sacrement of the Word, which transformed my understanding of the sermon in one fell swoop.

22 June 2011 19:18
MadPriest said...

I have always enjoyed bringing the liturgy together in groups. But, I must emphasise it cannot be rushed and the meetings will go on longer than a PCC discussing whether or not to remove the pews.

22 June 2011 22:35

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