Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Anglican Identity

At last week’s clergy school, we spent the whole time on the subject of “Anglican Identity”. I’m not sure we came up with any earth shattering new ideas. It was a positive experience – and that was a good thing – for I do believe it is a positive thing to be an Anglican, and sometimes we can be so wrapped up in the problems of the Anglican Communion that we lose sight of that.

But afterwards I sent Christopher Smith, the Archdeacon of Morgannwg, an email. In it, I reflected on a conversation we’d had one breakfast, and encouraged him to buy the Verdi Requiem reviewed here a couple of posts ago, and invited him to come along to my next gig singing with the Byron Jones Big Band on October 7th. I then wrote something like, “I wonder what this email says about Anglican identity?” as I mused about the incongruity of those two musical forms sitting side by side in my life!

Christopher wrote back: “I think it says that Anglican Identity is much more meaningful when set to music”.

You know, we did nothing on this at our clergy school, but I think Christopher has actually touched on something which is key in Anglicanism. We are a musical church. A singing church. We are not just a listening church, but a participating and involved church through our music. Anglican hymnody may be parodied, but it is the model on which all other hymnody is based; Roman hymnody is a pale reflection, and non-Conformist (English language) hymnody is (without the Wesleys, who were still Anglican when writing) a development. Modern worship music finds some of its key expression through Anglicanism – Matt Redman, Tim Hughes and even Graham Kendrick all began within the Church of England.

How did we do a whole clergy school and not consider this?

We did of course worship. Very Anglicanly. With music. Including some bizarre hymns, which I wouldn’t encourage. And some lovely touches which I would. But we didn't consider what we actually did.

So: "the Anglican Church is a Church best set to music. Discuss." How about that for a thesis, anyone?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Phew! A lot to think about