Thursday, May 24, 2007

Church Music

At Deanery Synod the other day a guest spoke to us on church music. Someone said to me on the way out, 'I expect you'll be blogging about that when you get home.' Indeed I would have done but these days I tend to have a bit of a break before posting angry rants. That way I can cram more invective into them. Anger is so much better for you if it is planned. (Discuss?)

For 45 minutes our guest sang to us, taught us, encouraged us to look welcoming as we sang words of welcome, happy when we sang words of praise and cheered most people up with his dizzy enthusiasm for the sort of light choral tosh that floats the boat of 75% of anglicans and 100% of anglicans in non-growing churches. Mate, it's no good telling people to smile as they sing if ten minutes earlier you have scowled when you asked them to 'move the piano.'

Our Rural Dean (don't ask) posed a question. Which radio station do you listen to and how are you taking into account the needs and preferences of those who are different? The choices in this quiz were:

Radio 1
Radio 2
Radio 3
Radio 4

Since the answer for me, from these four choices, is Radio 4 but never for music apart from Desert Island Discs, I felt it was a bit rich. What of us 6music lovers? Do people know it exists? Someone even heckled, 'What about Classic FM?' I agree. What about Classic FM?

The trouble with all this nonsense is that I can't, for the life of me, imagine most of the ocupants of the chairs that evening tolerating music of another 'type.' And some types of music are delivered without smiles as a part of the piece.

Other contradictable statements:

Music should fit the architecture as well as the mood.
You need five weeks notice to prepare an anthem.
Everyone likes singing.

Oh, and non-church-going readers, please don't worry about what a Deanery Synod is. Synodical governement has been part of the way we do life in the Church of England for 37 years now and still we had ' What is the Synod for?' as an agenda item.

Thanks. I feel better now. Time to eat a bit more omelette.


dmk said...

I think you owe it to other Deaneries in the Diocese to tell us who this speaker was, so that we can remember not to invite them. Next time, invite the people who are doing the U2charist in Lincoln this weekend, just for a bit of musical variety.

Mike Peatman said...

Yes. U2charists are good. Used the video clip from Rattle & Hum from the night of Enniskillen to illustrate righteous anger in chapel. Not sure what your speaker would have made of the f-the revolution bit.

i listen to radio 4 for speech / desert island discs, radio 2 for the Radcliffe/Maconie show and five live at 8am Sundays to avoid the Sunday service.

Emma said...

I don't listen to the radio. Perhaps I shouldn't go to church.

St said...

I don't think you should avoid this speaker David, simply have the guts (which I didn't) to challenge some of the assumptions if given the chance.

We had a chance to ask questions but more in order to clarify than disagree.

And I think I ought to repent of the piano moving complaint as I can't put my hand on my heart and say I've never been rude to someone in the ten minutes before I was due to speak.

Anonymous said...

Move the piano? Only if replaced with a double keyboard, Dire Straits stylee. Hope things are good in nailsea, regards to the Mrs


Caroline said...

hmmm, music in church

choice of

1) hymns ancient and more ancient
2) 600 methodist hymns in search of a tune
3) songs with trendy, person centred theology crammed in devoid of meter
4) songs of fellowship aping the musical dreariness of Eurovision
5) other songs of fellowship refusing to leave 60's folk rock behind
6) new age muzak to contemplate to

it's not an edifying choice really

sigh, can't help but feel that church music is starting to do more harm than good

Matthew McMurray said...

I am still waiting for the day when Plainsong becomes fashionable again. ;)

Martin said...

I don't do that much radio - just on the odd occasion, in the car, or the odd "listen again" thing, or maybe every so often a little music TV. Most important factor is to avoid AM, as it just sounds rubbish. From the FM stations, most local stuff is rubbish and/or too talky (and radio 4 is also too talky). Round here that leaves BBC Radios 1, 2 & 3, Classic FM & Kerrang. All five of these play lots of good stuff, and on the odd occasion it's not, I flick to the next one. Listen again stuff, Craig Charles Funk Show (BBC 6 Music), Giles Peterson Worldwide (BBC Radio 1), Hot Pot Radio (Samurai fm), and Soma FM (not strictly listen again, but chilled streaming radio). On the TV, I found Scuzz to be a decent enough channel at times, amongst others. Also good on normal TV is Jools Holland's show and the annual footage of glastonbury, and 21st century Bach. However, I should point out that all of this stuff I mentioned is a tiny portion of my music intake. Most of my music is listened to from CD, the odd bit of Vinyl, or MP3s ripped from my CDs (NOT itunes).

As for church music, like band stuff, but also like organ 4 part harmony stuff too. Wesley hymns are good (not just Methodist upbringing bias - the words for eg. of "And Can It Be" are fantastic). I even like "Our God is a Great Big God", but I really don't like "I'm Special", ugh!

So basically, I can live with whatever church music you use, so long as it's not rubbish & twee, or sounding like the spice girls, but it's probably not wise to ask for more detail than that unless you have plenty of time.

Jez said...

Hello blogosphere.

Quick question(s).

Is there any point to having music in church at all?

What's the point of it? What are we trying to say when we make it?

Is there a better way to say it?

Jez W

Jonathan Potts said...

Funnily enough, the early puritans didn't have music in church as it "encouraged sensual delight". Personally, I don't get this argument - "sensual irritation" is closer to my experience. perhaps music's ok in church as long as it's a bit crap? In which case we should go against all efforts to improve church music.

Glad to see that the Anglican Church is establishing itself as the last bastion of failure-to-recognise-digital-radio. It reminds me of those few years in the mid-90s when you couldn't get hold of the latest albums on original cassette tape for love nor money: except if you wanted to buy Christian music - when you couldn't get it on CD for love nor money.

St said...

Will post on this. It is important.