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Prince Philip’s funeral took place at St George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle, on Saturday afternoon, April 17, 2021.

Exactly two months earlier, he had been admitted to the King Edward VII Hospital in London, a private health care establishment where he went for minor ailments:

He then was transferred to St Bartholomew’s, a specialist NHS hospital in London, for heart surgery. Afterwards, he was sent back to the King Edward VII to recuperate. He spent a month in hospital before being discharged:

Because of coronavirus restrictions, the Queen did not visit her husband. However, Prince Charles visited once. On March 18, The Express reported:

Prince Philip’s 28-day hospital stay is the longest ever, and he was only visited by Prince Charles, likely due to ongoing COVID-19 restrictions.

The Prince of Wales visited his father during his first week in hospital, having made the 200-mile round trip to London from his Gloucestershire home, Highgrove.

Prince Philip has been treated for heart problems in the past, and this time, his stay isn’t understood to be Covid related at all.

On April 11, after the Prince died, The Sun reported on the significance of that visit. Royal insider Andrew Morton wrote (emphases mine):

It was a meeting of vital importance, especially as visitors to the private King Edward VII’s hospital were permitted to see patients only under “exceptional circumstances”.

This private exchange clearly came under that heading as the future king emerged from their 30-minute conversation clearly upset and preoccupied.

It had been an emotional encounter — one where, it could be assumed, Philip outlined his final wishes to his eldest son.

The Duke, who had been the head of the family for as long as anyone could remember, was finally stepping down and bowing out.

Now it was Charles’s time to step up to the plate and finally take over control of the first family.

Doubtless his father, who had the reputation for writing thoughtful letters to family members, set down his thoughts on paper beforehand …

Though Philip is remembered with enormous affection by the family — William and Harry call him The Stud in reference to a picture of their grandfather with his hair slicked back and wearing sunglasses — his relationship with his eldest son was never easy.

Princess Diana told me it was “very tricky, very tricky”.

She recalled: “Prince Charles longs to be patted on his head by his father.”

Once at home, the Prince appeared to be recovering, until he took a turn for the worse. On his better days, he took advantage of the occasional mild weather we enjoyed in southern England. On April 10, The Sun reported on his final weeks:

The Queen was by Prince Philip’s bedside when her husband of 73 years passed away, with the Duke having spent his final days in “good form” reading in the sun, it was reported today.

The Duke of Edinburgh is believed to have spent his last few days reading and writing letters and sleeping in the sun weeks before his 100th birthday.

Despite officials at the Palace declined to “go into any specifics” about the Duke’s passing, it is understood that his condition worsened overnight on Thursday with insiders warning that he had become “gravely ill”.

However, any talk of whisking Prince Philip back to the hospital was reportedly dismissed by the Queen.

One well-placed source told the Telegraph: “He spent most of the four weeks he was in hospital trying to get home.

“They operated on his heart in a bid to give him a little longer, maybe with the 100th birthday in mind.

“But he didn’t really care about that.

“He just wanted to be back in his own bed. There is no way he would have wanted to die in hospital.”

According to reports, there had been no dramatic decline in Philip’s health but it was gradual.

Staff said that the Duke was “on good form”, still writing and reading letters earlier this week.

On warm days over the last few weeks, Philip would reportedly ask to sit in the sunshine with a rug over his legs and nod off.

The Prince wanted to be self sufficient to the end. He was livid when he first saw a wheelchair in his room:

One aide told the Daily Mail he insisted on bending to the floor and picking up his dropped reading glasses, saying “I’ll do it” when a footman sprung forward.

And the Queen was said to be overheard saying he wouldn’t use his hearing aid, which “means we have to shout”, she noted.

Prince Philip was still reportedly dressing himself until recently and heading out of his room in a smart shirt and jumper on good days.

He would use a stick to walk around his rooms, and rarely allowed himself to be pushed in a wheelchair.

A royal source revealed when it was first put in his rooms he shouted: “Get that bl***y thing out of my sight”.

In his last few weeks, the prince was well enough to still speak to family and close friends on the telephone but unlike the Queen, the Duke was not a fan of Zoom calls.

Days before the funeral, the Queen made a decision about attire for her sons and grandsons:

Meanwhile, hours of military rehearsal took place:

On Saturday, I watched the funeral coverage on Sky News. Alastair Bruce OBE, a senior British Army reservist, did an excellent job of commentary from start to finish. That video is now private, although a podcast exists, but the Royal Family channel has the funeral in full:

Sky News posted three minutes of highlights:

The Prince had been closely involved in ‘every detail of planning’ the ceremony, including the music and the readings.

Within the grounds of Windsor Castle, a procession took place with the Prince’s casket placed on a Land Rover Defender he helped to design. The casket was draped in his own standard, or colours. In the video shot above, you can see the flag of Greece in one quadrant.

On the casket were a few items personal to him, such as his Royal Navy covering, and a naval sword that his father-in-law George VI gave him.

A carriage was also part of the procession, as the Prince enjoyed carriage racing. On the seat were his riding gloves and, it was said, sugar cubes for the horses.

Sky News reported:

A naval sword, gi[ven] to Philip by King George VI when he married Princess Elizabeth in 1947, was placed on top of the duke’s coffin as it was carried into the chapel.

The coffin was also covered with a wreath, naval cap and the duke’s personal standard.

It was one of several details which reflected the royal’s naval career and lifelong association with the armed forces.

Philip designed his own custom-built Land Rover to carry the coffin at his funeral.

The modified Land Rover Defender TD5 130 chassis cab vehicle was unveiled two days before the service.

The duke first began the long-lasting venture to create the bespoke hearse in collaboration with Land Rover in 2003, the year he turned 82.

He made the final adjustments to the vehicle in 2019, the year he turned 98.

The Defender was made at Land Rover’s factory in Solihull in 2003 and Philip oversaw the modifications, in collaboration with the company, throughout the intervening years.

The duke requested that the original Belize Green bodywork be switched to Dark Bronze Green, a colour used for many military Land Rovers.

Along the route, the men of the Royal Family and Princess Anne walked behind the Land Rover. The women, except for the Queen who was in the ceremonial Bentley, stood along the route, awaiting the procession.

The Queen rode with her lady-in-waiting Lady Susan Hussey, who did not attend the funeral, in order to keep the numbers to the state-required 30 persons during coronavirus restrictions:

Once at St George’s Chapel, eight Royal Marines carried the Prince’s casket up the steps. On the second landing, they stopped for the one-minute national silence at 3 p.m. Featured in this video is a clip of students from his alma mater Gordonstoun in Elgin, Moray (Scotland):

Although a lot of this video is about Prince Harry, Alan Jones of Sky News Australia said that Prince Philip’s coffin was designed to be biodegradable:

Inside the chapel, various medals had been placed on velvet cushions on the altar. Sky’s article says:

Military medals handpicked by the duke featured inside the chapel at his funeral.

Philip’s chosen insignia, the medals and decorations conferred on him by the UK and Commonwealth countries – together with his Royal Air Force wings and Field Marshal’s baton, were pre-positioned on nine cushions on the altar.

The duke also included insignia from Denmark and Greece – Order of the Elephant and Order of the Redeemer respectively – in a nod to his birth heritage as a prince of Greece and Denmark.

Insignia on display from across the Commonwealth included the Zanzibar Brilliant Star of Zanzibar, the Brunei Esteemed Family Order and the Singapore Order of Darjah Utama Temasek.

Insignia, orders, decorations and medals are a way of a country saying thank you and recognising someone’s achievements.

The insignia were sewn in place at St James’s Palace by two seamstresses using transparent fishing wire.

The Queen was met by the Dean of Windsor before the minute’s silence. This is a photo of her before the rest of the Royal Family took their places. The Queen placed her handbag on the seat next to her, where her beloved husband sat on so many other occasions. Her brooch was a gift from the Prince:

Our hearts went out to the monarch, especially during this time of coronavirus restrictions:

Barrister Francis Hoar was livid:

The Duchess of Cambridge attracted much attention at the weekend for this filmic, yet unsettling, photograph. Note that a ‘Karen’ posted it! You could not make this up:

Members of the Royal Family were spaced apart in the chapel, sitting in their respective familial bubbles. Princes Harry and Andrew sat alone.

Three members of Prince Philip’s family were also in attendance. They flew in from Germany and stayed with a mutual friend in Ascot, near Windsor. They left immediately after the funeral.

The Sun reported (photos at the link):

THREE of Prince Philip’s German relatives will attend his funeral and are in isolation ahead of the service, it is claimed.

Two great-nephews and a cousin are said to be staying with a mutual friend in Ascot, Berkshire, so they can safely be there on Saturday.

Bernhard, Hereditary Prince of Baden, Prince Donatus, Landgrave of Hesse, and Prince Philipp of Hohenlohe-Langenburg are locked in a Covid-compliant bubble, the Daily Mail reports.

The Duke of Edinburgh allegedly made it clear he wanted his “blood” family to be included in his funeral arrangements.

Prince Philipp, 51, said in a statement from the house where he and his relatives remain isolated until the weekend: “It really is an incredible honour and we are all extremely touched and privileged to be included on behalf of the wider family.”

Contrast the social distancing and self-isolation with the scene in London that afternoon. It doesn’t make sense:

The ceremony had a lot of music, which the Prince himself chose:

You can read the Order of Service in its entirety here. The liturgy was in traditional language.

A choir of four, socially distanced in another part of the chapel, sang the hymns.

The service began with ‘sentences’, Bible verses:

I AM the resurrection and the life, saith the Lord: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.

John 11. 25-26

I KNOW that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: and though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another.

Job 19. 25-27

WE brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.

1 Timothy 6. 7, Job 1. 21

Among others, the Prince chose the hymn I refer to as ‘For Those in Peril on the Sea’:

ETERNAL Father, strong to save,

Whose arm doth bind the restless wave,

Who bidd’st the mighty ocean deep

Its own appointed limits keep;

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea.

O Saviour, whose almighty word

The winds and waves submissive heard,

Who walkedst on the foaming deep,

And calm amid its rage didst sleep:

O hear us when we cry to thee

For those in peril on the sea.

The first reading was one that only Prince Philip would have chosen:

Ecclesiasticus 43. 11-26 read by the Dean of Windsor

LOOK at the rainbow and praise its Maker; it shines with a supreme beauty, rounding the sky with its gleaming arc, a bow bent by the hands of the Most High.

His command speeds the snow storm and sends the swift lightning to execute his sentence. To that end the storehouses are opened, and the clouds fly out like birds.

By his mighty power the clouds are piled up and the hailstones broken small. The crash of his thunder makes the earth writhe, and, when he appears, an earthquake shakes the hills.

At his will the south wind blows, the squall from the north and the hurricane. He scatters the snow-flakes like birds alighting; they settle like a swarm of locusts. The eye is dazzled by their beautiful whiteness, and as they fall the mind is entranced.

He spreads frost on the earth like salt, and icicles form like pointed stakes. A cold blast from the north, and ice grows hard on the water, settling on every pool, as though the water were putting on a breastplate.

He consumes the hills, scorches the wilderness, and withers the grass like fire. Cloudy weather quickly puts all to rights, and dew brings welcome relief after heat.

By the power of his thought he tamed the deep and planted it with islands.

Those who sail the sea tell stories of its dangers, which astonish all who hear them; in it are strange and wonderful creatures, all kinds of living things and huge sea-monsters.

By his own action he achieves his end, and by his word all things are held together.

The second lesson was the story of Jesus and Martha discussing her brother Lazarus. This exchange took place before Jesus raised him from the dead:

John 11. 21-27 read by the Archbishop of Canterbury

MARTHA said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. And even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, he who is coming into the world.”

The choir sang the Lord’s Prayer, a beautiful rendition.

A series of prayers read by the Dean of Windsor and the Archbishop of Canterbury followed, beginning with these:

The Archbishop of Canterbury shall say

O ETERNAL God, before whose face the generations rise and pass away, thyself unchanged, abiding, we bless thy holy name for all who have completed their earthly course in thy faith and following, and are now at rest; we remember before thee this day Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, rendering thanks unto thee-for his resolute faith and loyalty, for his high sense of duty and integrity, for his life of service to the Nation and Commonwealth, and for the courage and inspiration of his leadership. To him, with all the faithful departed, grant thy peace; Let light perpetual shine upon them; and in thy loving wisdom and almighty power work in them the good purpose of thy perfect will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

The Dean of Windsor, Register of the Most Noble Order of the Garter, shall say

O LORD, who didst give to thy servant Saint George grace to lay aside the fear of man, and to be faithful even unto death: Grant that we, unmindful of worldly honour, may fight the wrong, uphold thy rule, and serve thee to our lives’ end; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

GOD save our gracious Sovereign and all the Companions, living and departed, of the Most Honourable and Noble Order of The Garter. Amen.

O GOD of the spirits of all flesh, we praise thy holy name for thy servant Philip, Duke of Edinburgh, who has left us a fair pattern of valiant and true knighthood; grant unto him the assurance of thine ancient promise that thou wilt ever be with those who go down to the sea in ships and occupy their business in great waters. And we beseech thee that, following his good example and strengthened by his fellowship, we may at the last, together with him, be partakers of thy heavenly kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Then came the military music, which included Pipe Major of The Royal Regiment of Scotland playing A Lament, followed by the Buglers of the Royal Marines, who sounded The Last Post, Reveille and, perhaps the most meaningful of all as a final message from the Prince to his family: Action Stations.

At the end, the choir sang the National Anthem:

Afterwards, the Queen returned to her private apartments in the Bentley.

Cars awaited the other royals, but Prince Charles gestured for them to drive on. The Mirror reported that this was perhaps a move to give younger members of the family time to spend chatting with Prince Harry.

The Queen’s 95th birthday is Wednesday, April 21. The Mirror reported:

The widowed Queen went for a solo drive and stopped at one of her favourite spots for a moment of quiet reflection the day after Prince Philip’s funeral, it is claimed …

She will celebrate the first birthday of her reign without her husband when she turns 95 on Wednesday, just four days after the funeral and 12 days after the Duke of Edinburgh’s death.

Events will be shelved or toned down, as the Royal Family remains in mourning, and the Queen is likely to do the same things she did 24 hours after Philip’s funeral at St George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.

On Sunday, the 94-year-old drove herself alone from the castle, where she has been shielding during the coronavirus pandemic, to her nearby Frogmore estate for some quiet reflection, the Daily Mail reported.

There, the monarch, who isn’t required to have a driving licence, took in the cherry trees that are still in bloom and the spring flowers lining the banks of the ornamental lakes.

Sources told the newspaper that she is likely to spend her birthday in similar fashion – making the short drive alone to Frogmore to walk her new puppies, a dorgi named Fergus and a corgi named Muick.

Fergus is named after her uncle Fergus Bowes-Lyon, who was killed as he led an attack on the Germans during the First World War, while Muick (pronounced “Mick)” is named after Loch Muick on the Queen’s Balmoral estate in Scotland.

My prayers go to the Queen for many more years of sentient life and for the Lord’s peace and comfort upon her at this most difficult time.

Over the past few weeks I have been running a series of posts on Percy Dearmer‘s 1912 volume, Everyman’s History of the Prayer Book, published by Mowbray.

These are the previous posts in the series:

Percy Dearmer on the Anglican Thirty-nine Articles of Religion

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 1

Percy Dearmer on the title page of the Book of Common Prayer – part 2

Percy Dearmer on the earliest church service manuscripts

Percy Dearmer’s interpretation of St Paul on prophecy and tongues

Percy Dearmer on elements of worship in the New Testament

In today’s entry, still from Chapter 4, we look at Dearmer’s explanation of how liturgy came to be better defined and codified from the 7th century to the Reformation.

In Dearmer’s time, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer was the only Anglican book in use for communal worship, administering Baptism and Holy Communion, along with special rites such as Confirmation, Matrimony and Ordination.

In the 7th century, books were handwritten and paper was expensive. This situation existed until the printing press eight centuries later. Even then, the price of books was still prohibitive until the 19th century.

From the 7th century until the Reformation, liturgical rites had to be handwritten. Therefore, priests and deacons had small books with only their prayers and incantations. Furthermore, there were books for each type of liturgy:

the Divine Service, the Sacraments, and the Occasional Services, these latter including all the services used upon occasions such as Marriage, Ordination, and the Reconciliation of Penitents.

The Divine Service involved three different books, again, one for each role (e.g. priest, deacon) in that liturgy: the Psalter, the Legend and the Antiphoner. The Legend had the Scripture readings, lives of the saints and sermons. The Antiphoner had the musical accompaniments to the service.

The ancient Anglo-Saxon service for Holy Communion entailed a Missal, a Gospel book and an Epistle book. The Normans had a Missal but their other books were a Gradual and a Troper. Dearmer explains:

The Gradual contained the portions of the Psalter sung between the Epistle and the Gospel, and also those sung for the Introit and at other places in the Mass … The Troper consisted of interpolations into the chant: these additions to the traditional music became very large, but after the twelfth century little except the Sequences (sung after the Gradual and Alleluya, between the Epistle and Gospel) was left of them.

In the late Middle Ages — 13th century — different rites in Britain emerged in the cathedral cities and surrounding areas:

From the 13th century till the Reformation the use of Salisbury Cathedral was followed in the greater part of England (excluding Hereford which had a use of its own, and parts of the North which followed the York use), and also throughout the mainland of Scotland and in parts of Ireland and Wales.

The books used largely remained the same, although another book emerged for the Divine Service, e.g. liturgies which do not feature Communion, such as what we know today as Morning Prayer. The new book was called a Collectar. It had all the Collects (the emphasis is on the first syllable, as in ‘college’)  to be used on particular Sundays and feast days.

Collects are short petitioning prayers. In Morning Prayer, for example, three come at the end of the service. In the Communion service, one Collect is said after the introductory prayers, just before the Epistle is read.

Archbishop Cranmer, who first developed the first Book of Common Prayer, translated the collects from Latin. Dearmer tells us these had been in use for centuries and were in the priest’s liturgy book, the Sacramentary:

The majority of our Prayer Book collects are from three Old Roman Sacramentaries — the Leonine (6th century), the Gelasian (early 8th century), and the Gregorian (c. 800).

For centuries, Communion services used to have an Introit, a Collect and a Gradual. These were particular to specific Sundays and feasts. The Introit (Introitum means ‘entrance’ in Latin) is now called the Entrance Antiphon in Catholic Masses. The Gradual (possibly from gradus, the priest’s mounting the steps to the altar for the Gospel reading) was sung between the Epistle and the Gospel. Today’s liturgies no longer refer to a Gradual. In Protestant services, it is the Psalm for the day. Catholics call it the Responsorial Psalm.

By the late Middle Ages, the church service situation was such that it began to make more sense for these various books to be combined into one. A variety of Masses and other services took place at churches in cities. On the other hand, rural areas had fewer clergy. From this emerged the Breviary, still used in monasteries today, for daily services other than Communion; Missals for Communion services and three books for occasional rites.

The Antiphoner, for the sung parts, was still separate. From it, the hymnal emerged.

Dearmer’s book explains that the Reformation and the printing press in the mid-15th century brought an opportunity to make Protestant worship more communal. Instead of a priest and deacon reciting most of the prayers in Latin, people could worship in their own language and recite more prayers together.

It is also worth remembering that the Bible had been translated into English in the late 14th century, so the pathway was clear for church services to go the same route.

Until then, Latin was used because it was the lingua franca of Europe. All the educated people could speak, write and read it. It was the language of not only the Church but the professions (e.g. law) and diplomacy. People across Europe, including Britain, still had so many local and regional dialects, that it was sometimes difficult for citizens of a nation to understand someone else from another region in their own homeland:

and therefore it is no wonder that learned people wrote in Latin, which was for them a kind of Esperanto amid the babel of tongues.

Dearmer takes us to 16th century England, which led to the proliferation of the English Bible but also the introduction of the English prayer book (emphases mine):

It was therefore possible at the beginning of the 16th century not only to print the services, but to print them in an English which Englishmen all over the country could understand. Before the middle of that century the Bible had been printed in English, and thus became universally accessible and intelligible ; and just before the middle year— in 1549 — the First English Prayer Book was printed. It was no longer necessary to have but short extracts from the Bible in Divine Service; for the whole Bible — now a comparatively cheap book — could be used side by side with the Prayer Book; and these two volumes would supply every one’s need. Formerly the lay folk had only been able to follow the services in little simplified books of their own, and even these were an expensive luxury; but now every one could follow the services word for word, and those who knew their letters could read them in their own books. So the old books that we have described were further condensed into two, the Bible and the Prayer Book.

The last major revision of the Book of Common Prayer was done in 1662. Smaller revisions have been made since then. Most Anglicans probably did not notice much difference. During Dearmer’s time:

The last Lambeth Conference (1908) decided not to recommend the Unction of the Sick, but to allow its use, expressing a hope that the other apostolic act for helping the sick, the Laying on of Hands, might be used with prayers for the restoration of health. Those who are inclined to press the importance of Unction should remember that in the New Testament, and for long afterwards, the Laying on of Hands was used at least as much as Unction for helping the sick. It is therefore rightly to be regarded as an alternative form of the Sacrament of Healing; just as we administer Confirmation by the Laying on of Hands, whereas in the Eastern Church, and in most of the West, Confirmation is administered by anointing.

Dearmer points out that the various hymnals used in Anglican churches have denominational authorisation. To them have been added a few newer hymns from each generation so that the tradition remains, with continuing relevance:

they still keep us in touch with the thought and feeling of our own age, besides having the happy result of enabling Christians of other denominations, Protestant and Catholic, to contribute to our services. Closely allied to hymns are the modern anthems, which in cathedral and collegiate churches are collected in Anthem-books, thus adding a fourth to the volumes required for Divine Service each day. Hymns and anthems together place every form of sacred vocal music at the service of the Church. Nor are they unauthorized additions: the existence of these collections of hymns and anthems which provide Anglicanism with so precious an element of freedom has been sanctioned by authority ever since the 16th century (see pp. 65, 96, 97, 136), and the latter are mentioned in the twice repeated rubric, “In Quires and Places where they sing, here followeth the Anthem.”

Nowadays, it is increasingly difficult to find an Anglican church that offers any type of 1662 BCP service.

A new prayerbook superseded it in 1984 and Common Worship replaced it at the turn of the Millennium.

Although Common Worship’s traditional language liturgies are very close to that of the BCP, nothing compares to the 1662 book. One really feels as if one is worshipping with the many generations that went before us, praising Father, Son and Holy Ghost:

Thus are the needs of each generation brought within the scope of our common intercession and devotion.

I couldn’t agree more.

Next time: how the Reformation and royalty influenced the Prayer Book

On July 6, 2016, I wrote about the high church Anglican quiz ‘How “spikey” are YOU?’

One of my readers, Boetie, a Catholic living in Germany, sent in a thoughtful comment by way of response. He has kindly given me permission to use it as a guest post on the differences between Catholic and Anglican worship.

What he says closely parallels my own experience in the early 1980s and caused me to convert to the Episcopal Church and continue worshipping in the UK as an Anglican. I should emphasise that my conversion came through low church, which also had quite a lot of ritual, rather than high church. That said, I have occasionally enjoyed the freedom and the opportunity to revisit ancient traditions and vestments.

Without further ado, Boetie discusses his results and his own worship journey:

I came out “top of the flame” – not that I was in the least surprised, though. But this liturgical and at the same time humorous approach is what first attracted me to the Anglican Church in her High Church / Anglo-Catholic tradition ever since I was an 11 or 12 year old lad from Germany coming to Britain for the first time in the very early 1970s. Quite visibly the Anglican Church had not been through the devastations Vatican II had brought about in my own church (I’m a “Roman”:-)). Sadly, the Anglican Church has more than made up leeway since.

But for the first time in my life I saw priests who looked like priests with their dog collars and their cassocks/soutanes, who spoke like priests and who acted like priests. Our own RC priests at the time had opted for the “social worker” chic, loathed to be addressed as “Father” and were delighted when you told them: “I would never have guessed you were a priest”.

And, of course, in England I gained an insight into what “liturgy” meant – while in Germany they had already come up with that brilliant idea of happy-clappy services with do-gooder homilies. I had never heard e.g. an “Angelus” prayer in my home parish – the first in my life was in an Anglican church in Hertfordshire.

So, for many years in my youth, the Anglican Church shaped my own Catholic faith.

I noticed differences though, even at an early age.

Right from day one I was impressed by the style of hearty hymn singing – as opposed to many RC churches where people often can’t be bothered and where the singing is lacklustre. Also, I found traditional Anglican services solemn but ultimately more serene than traditional RC Masses. And the difference of the quality of style and language was stunning: introducing the vernacular after Vatican II into RC services didn’t work well: e.g. in Germany it was modern day German while in the Anglican Church the wonderful traditional English had been retained. (Doing away with Prayer Book English I regard as a a major flaw in today’s Anglican worship.) Not least of all, to this day I appreciate the humour that is never far from the surface with High Church priests – which makes it a pleasure to listen to their sermons and homilies.

The demise of the Anglican Church (namely the CofE) I find deeply saddening and I wonder whether the Catholic faith in her Anglican tradition will have a future within the Anglican Communion or whether in the long run it will be just “catholic” in name and maybe ritual but no longer in essence – with lesbians and feminists in fiddleback chasubles and birettas swinging the thurible – during a same sex marriage.

But I do not want to end on a sombre note. If you appreciate the type of humour of the quiz I am sure you will also like the cartoon figure of “Father Jolly” created years ago by the American Anglican priest Fr. Tom Janikowski during his formative years in the seminary. He is now Rector of Trinity Anglican Church in Rock Island, Illinois (an ACNA parish). Unfortunately there are only few of his cartoons on the net: the first 4 pictures here:

https://www.google.de/search?q=father+jolly&client=firefox-b-ab&biw=1370&bih=938&source=lnms&tbm=isch&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiK2-ie_uDNAhVCbRQKHReiBVEQ_AUIBigB

Here is another one: http://www.thescp.org/documents/jollylovejoy.jpg

Should you come across more in the vein of that quiz – please let us know in your blog. I am sure I’d be not the only one to appreciate this.

You can bet I will, brother!

Thank you very much, Boetie, for your excellent contribution and for the witty (and realistic) Father Jolly cartoons.

It would be edifying if others sharing the same experience as Boetie’s and mine would kindly comment below.

luther-roseOlder Lutherans who wonder how and why their liturgy has changed so much since their childhood might find Frank Senn’s 2011 paper ‘Ninety-five Theses on the State of Liturgical Renewal in the Lutheran Churches of North America’ a helpful resource.

A brief summary follows with page citations from the PDF.

Lutheran liturgy began to change bit by bit in the 1950s, although its ‘renewal’ did not begin in earnest until the 1970s.

The Catholics were the first to begin tinkering with liturgy and tradition in the 1960s. Unfortunately, Anglicans also followed them into the same trend, which has left all three denominations confused. It is no wonder that most of us cannot recognise the churches of our childhood.

Early days of settlement

Senn divides his paper into items of historical and current interest. His first seven points on pages 2 and 3 cover the early Lutheran Church in North America.

We discover that German Lutherans were the first colonial settlers to celebrate Christmas with gusto. However, in regular worship, Senn tells us that Lutherans were either pietists or rationalists. (Pietists rejected the established — state — churches of Germany and Scandinavia for more homespun practices. Rationalists, probably the middle and upper middle classes, adhered to established liturgy and theology.)

In the mid-19th century, Senn writes, immigrants brought more confessionally Lutheran styles of theology and worship (item 10, page 3). Those who were translating prayerbooks into English found these useful resources. A more uniform pattern of worship began to develop which culminated in 1888 with the Common Service (item 12). It was so named because it was liturgy which all Lutherans could appreciate and use.

By the early 20th century, what pastors wore at Sunday services had changed. Black robes were gradually replaced by an alb and stole with the addition of a chasuble for Holy Communion services (item 15).

1950s and beyond

In the late 1950s, the Lutheran Churches of North America embarked on a programme of ‘liturgical restoration’. A new worship book, The Service Book and Hymnal, was introduced in 1958. The Joint Commission on the Liturgy and the Hymnal had gone beyond Lutheranism to embrace certain prayers and hymns from the broader Western Church (item 17, pp 3, 4).

However, it was not long before the new worship book’s critics complained that its language was too archaic. After all, they said, American culture was changing rapidly. So, eight years later — 1966 — an Inter-Lutheran Commission on Worship convened to discuss how church services could be made more relevant to contemporary society (points 18, 19).

The Commission was in place through the 1970s. Although certain synod-specific rubrics were created, the Commission encouraged them all:

1/ The LCMS Worship Supplement (1969) to the Lutheran Hymnal (1941). This new volume had not only newer hymns but also alternative orders of service (item 20).

2/ The 1970 Service of Holy Communion (item 21) was an modern one in line with the spirit of unity and ecumenism of the day. Not only that, it established Holy Communion as the principal Sunday service (item 22). As with the post-Vatican II Catholic Missal, Lutheran liturgy moved towards being more man-oriented to the perceived ‘needs’ of the congregation.

3/ Throughout the 1970s, new booklets appeared with more particularised and alternative worship services and hymns (item 23). The Commission’s summer conferences introduced them — and no doubt proliferated them year on year.

4/ The Commission adopted a version of the three-year Roman Catholic Lectionary for public worship (items 24, 32). Although North American Lutherans began using the Lectionary, most European Lutherans did not (item 25).

5/ It could be said that the Commission’s work culminated with the 1979 Lutheran Book of Worship, approved by the church groups involved except for the LCMS (page 5). That said, many LCMS congregations began buying copies for their churches. The LBW was informed by ecumenism, reiterated the importance of Holy Communion as the main Sunday service and borrowed texts (e.g. the Psalter) from the Episcopal Church’s 1979 Book of Common Prayer. A broad campaign of workshops in churches across North America ensured its acceptance.

6/ Altars have been rearranged or built to be free-standing to allow everyone to stand around them (item 41, page 6).

Resulting present day problems

Senn hints that so much alternative liturgies and hymns might have made the Lutheran churches in North America come full circle, approaching the tension of pietism versus rationalism in the colonial days. Some Lutheran churches are more traditional whilst others embrace new practices and language. This is because of:

1/ Gender-inclusive liturgical language (item 42) which has led to a deliberate omission of the Creeds with their male-oriented references to the Holy Trinity (item 44). The 2006 Evangelical Lutheran Worship book is gender-neutral whilst the LCMS Lutheran Service Book, also published in 2006, retains traditional language (item 45).

2/ Inter-Lutheran co-operation on worship has consequently become polarised (item 46).

3/ Worship has come to be seen, erroneously, as a form of evangelism and, as such, services have been modified to become seeker-friendly (items 68-71, page 8).

4/ Congregations and clergy now think that prayer books and hymnals are too complicated for the unchurched to use (items 73 and 74, page 9), so service sheets and big screens are being used instead.

5/ Congregations are omitting a confession of sin and the Creed (item 77), no doubt in order not to offend.

Senn makes excellent points near the end of his paper (item 84 on page 10 and items 91, 94 and 95 on page 11). Emphases mine:

84. Lutheran laypeople used to be able to recognize Lutheran worship when they visited other congregations in the days when the Common Service was included in the hymnals of various church bodies, or when the SBH and then the LBW were in widespread use. Common Lutheran worship can no longer be presumed.

91. The question needs to be raised as to whether a common order is sufficient if common content is lacking. Historically Lutherans have been concerned about the relationship between the lex orandi (rule of prayer) and the lex credendi (rule of belief). In the nineteenth century, liturgical and confessional restoration went together. Lutherans have understood that practices influence theology.

94. Lutheran worship has always been trinitarian and Christological.
Worship is addressed to God the Holy Trinity and the content of many songs
is Christ ‘‘the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.’’ This orthodoxy is challenged today by secular ideologies such as feminism and Pentecostal praise and worship songs that focus on Jesus and me.

95. In many congregations we have returned full circle to a situation in which the liturgy must be retrieved and restored before it can be renewed. In many other congregations, however, the seeds of liturgical renewal, planted forty years ago, are producing rich fruit.

I suspect that the Lutherans are experiencing a long-term decline in worship just as other Protestants and Catholics are. Our churches and liturgies are no longer what they were.

As I have written before (here and here), we are no longer hearing the voice of the Shepherd through our clergy and lay leaders but that of the stranger, the hired hand and the thief.

It appears that, thanks to disaffected Anglicans turning toward the Catholic Church, their greatest hymns are now being incorporated into the liturgy of the Mass.

One of these is For All the Saints, by William Walsham How, an Anglican bishop. He wrote his reflections in 1864 and Ralph Vaughan Williams composed the stirring music to accompany them in 1906.

Monsignor Charles Pope of the Diocese of Washington wrote a beautiful post on the hymn, analysing the theology and Scripture behind each verse. I commend it to all my readers, even those who have been singing this magnificent hymn all their lives.

This is what he says about the first verse (emphases in the original):

First we cast our eyes heavenward to the Church Triumphant:

For all the saints, who from their labours rest,
Who Thee by faith before the world confessed,

Thy Name, O Jesus, be forever blessed.

Alleluia!

Here then in the first verses is stated the purpose of the hymn. Namely, that we sing to and praise God for all those saints who have finished their course here and entered into the rest of the Lord. Like the the Lord they can say, “It is finished.” Like St. Paul they can say, I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day (2 Tim 4:7-8). These saints declared to world the holy and blessed name of Jesus by their words and deeds. They confessed and did not deny him. To them and us Jesus made a promise: Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven (Matt 10:32). And we too are summoned to take up the cry: “Blessed be the Name of the Lord!”

Readers who have not heard the hymn before can do so via YouTube and the St Edmundsbury Cathedral Choir:

Covering ears fotosearchcomOver the past few years, this blog has examined the feminine character of church services.

We simply do not have enough men attending Catholic and Protestant services. Yet, this was not always the case.

Many pastors and theologians wonder how men can once again participate in the life of the Church. Christians over the age of 50 recall that the pews on Sundays had a good cross-section of men of all ages. By contrast, today’s congregations seem to be mostly comprised of women and girls.

William Lane Craig, American theologian and apologist, addressed this in his April 2013 e-newsletter (H/T: Triablogue). Emphases mine:

One overwhelming impression of these [Craig’s speaking] engagements is the way in which the intellectual defense of Christian faith attracts men. Both at Texas A&M and again at Miami every single student who got up to ask a question was a guy!

Churches have difficulty attracting men, and the church is becoming increasingly feminized. I believe that apologetics is a key to attracting large numbers of men (as well as women) to church and to Christ.

In writing this blog, I have noticed that America’s confessional Reformed churches seem to have the most men who are actively involved and regularly attend services. The confessional Lutheran denominations in the United States must be a close second.

Why? These churches have male ministers, solid homiletics, by-the-book liturgy and traditional hymns or sung Psalms. That is what men — and boys — want when they go to church.

You might ask, ‘What about the Catholic Church with its all-male clergy?’ Ah, but what about the modern hymns, variable liturgical forms and weak homilies?

Going back through my archives, I found some interesting quotes from male pastors and congregants.

In 2009, I featured a post called ‘Here’s what happens when Dad doesn’t attend church’. The post looked at a Swiss survey of church attendance which an Anglican priest — a Fr Low — analysed and compared to England’s situation. I recommend it to every pastor. Fr Low wrote:

Faithful mothers produce irregular attenders rather than regular. Their absence transfers the irregulars into the non-attending sector. But even the beneficial influence really works only in complimentarity to the practice of the father.

In short if a father does not go to church, no matter how faithful his wife’s devotions, only one child in 50 will become a regular worshipper.

And:

Where adults have witnessed, in their own childhood, that Church, for example, is a ‘women and children’ thing, they will respond accordingly. Curiously, both adult women as well as men will conclude subconsciously that Dad’s absence indicates it is not really a ‘grown-up’ activity.

He concluded that:

Emasculated liturgy, gender-free Bibles and a fatherless flock are increasingly on offer. In response to this, decline has, unsurprisingly, accelerated. To minister to a fatherless society the Church of England, in its unwisdom, has produced its own single-parent family parish model in the woman priest. The idea of this politically contrived iconic destruction and biblically disobedient initiative was that it would make the Church relevant to the society in which it ministered.

Women priests would make women feel empowered and thereby drawn in.

Another post of mine — ‘Consistent churchgoing habits important for children’ — contrasts this present-day problem with the normality of family church attendance near the end of the 20th century.  A commenter on another Anglican blog remembered:

[ol’ codger tone] When I was growing up  going to church every Sunday is what was both expected and done. We did it, the families on our street did it, the families at our church did it. The only times we weren’t in church was on campouts for Scouts. Otherwise if you weren’t there, people assumed you were sick/indisposedAnd we’re not talking the ’50’s here, these were the ’80’s. [/ol’ codger tone]

Nowadays, sports activities are regularly scheduled on Sunday mornings, the time when families used to be in church.

As I mentioned above, modern church music is a problem, especially when men learn that the most robust, rousing hymns — ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’ and ‘Onward Christian Soldiers’ — were dropped from hymnals beginning in the 1980s.  I featured an analysis of traditional hymnody as seen from a pastor’s perspective in ‘A Lutheran pastor on church music’.

In ‘Why Johnny won’t SING!’ I looked at the role of music in a church service. I quoted Dr Carl Trueman, a Reformed minister and professor at Philadelphia’s Westminster Theological Seminary. He wrote:

You can tell a lot about someone’s theology from what they do in church.  Involve [pop] music in your worship service, and I can tell not only that you have no taste in music but also that you have nothing to offer theologically to those who come through the church doors; indeed, what you do have can probably be found better elsewhere

Such as at home in bed, sipping coffee and reading the Sunday papers whilst listening to the radio.

Many former churchgoers find this more gratifying than getting out of bed and rounding up the family to attend a service led by a woman featuring girly songs and a sermon oriented to women in the pews. Even in churches where a man takes the service, too many other things are feminine, as the Telegraph reported a few years ago:

A majority of men, 60 per cent, said they do not like flowers and embroidered banners in church with 52 per cent saying they do not like dancing in church.

Comments gathered from the survey of 400 UK readers of the men’s magazine Sorted also showed many did not like hugging, holding hands or sitting in circles discussing their feelings in church.

Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they enjoyed singing – but added comments showing they preferred anthemic songs and ‘proclamational’ hymns as opposed to more emotional love songs.

Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.

In 2009, Dr R Scott Clark of Westminster Seminary California, whose posts I feature regularly here, posited the following on the decline in church attendance, particularly where men were concerned. (This comes from my 2010 post, ‘Women priests — a Calvinist view’.) Dr Clark wrote:

For a long time the theory of many erstwhile non-confessionalists has been to minimize areas of tension between Christians the prevailing culture. With the rise of the modern feminist movement, this one was easy. For the pietists what matters most is religious experience. Females are just as able to facilitate religious experience as anyone else, so why not? Many non-confessionalists (both liberals and ‘conservatives’) share an embarrassment over Paul’s apparently misogynistic tendencies. The great quest of much of the modern church has been to become acceptable or ‘relevant’ to the prevailing culture. It has been thus since at least the early 19th century

Ironically, as the the non-confessional majority, in its quest to become acceptable to modernity, becomes more like the surrounding culture it becomes more irrelevant. The mainline has been bleeding itself to death for decades. The evangelicals are following suit. The consequences may not be entirely evident yet but the signs are there …

I think there is a connection between the drop in attendance to Sunday morning worship and rise in female pastors. The latter is a symbol of the capitulation of the church to cultural pressure and the former is one of its consequences.

I wonder if this feminisation of church has subconsciously led atheists to attack Christianity. Of course, they accuse it of being too robust. Yet, Christianity’s image is in reality becoming less masculine, more feminine. It looks weak, as do many pastors (my ordained readership excepted!).

I have the impression that a number of today’s clergymen in mainline and some Evangelical churches seem a bit too bookish or soft. This could be a result of today’s seminaries which might encourage them to tone down the testosterone; I do not know.  I find it difficult to relate to them. And, if I do, how many others — including women — do, too?

It seems as if a reappraisal is in order of where the Church in the West is today. Perhaps it is time to throw out postmodern thinking once and for all and return to our traditions.

As the line went in the baseball film Field of Dreams: ‘Build it and they will come’.

Couldn’t resist sharing with you more of the Revd Larry Peters’s thoughts, this time on music in LCMS worship.

In his Pastoral Meanderings (see Blogroll) Pastor Peters has several posts on the role of music in worship.  His reflections are perfect antidotes to the praise-band trend we so often read about these days.

First, if your congregation would like to own a real organ but has little space and even less money, Pastor Peters suggests the Moller Artiste model from the late 1970s.  In ‘On the Way Home’, he explains:

To those who insist that real pipes are a luxury in churches today, I say take a gander at a good used Moller Artiste or one of its many derivations.  For a few thousand dollars they can be had.  A few thousand more in transportation and installation, and you have a reliable instrument that keeps it tuning and will serve well the congregation for many, many years to come.  Check out eBay or the Organ Trader or the ads in TAO magazine or the Diapason or you can look at the Organ Relocation Service.  Sometimes a phone call to organ service folks or regional organ builders will help you track down one of these little gems.

Less expensive than an electronic and yet very serviceable for most organ literature, you hear the sound of real music being made and not digitally sampled music being mimicked.  It is not that I am totally against electronic organs but that is not the only option open to most, make that all congregations … What we will end up with is a very serviceable instrument that will support the room, lead congregational song, and equip the chapel to serve its function for smaller services, weddings, and funerals (50-60 in attendance). 

His ‘A Different Approach to the Role of Music in the Service’ discusses why his church selects certain hymns and styles of music:

We pick music (hymns, song, and service music) that express the mood of the service (joyful, somber, encouraging, reflective, etc.) and in this way music is primarily evocative.  And then there is the understanding of music as mood maker where the role of music is to bring together the assembly and bring them to one place.  Music is used to make the mood (often here the songs are both performed and sung repeatedly and the singing goes on continuously over some period of time as opposed to hymns or songs that are sung one at a time and in alternation with other parts of the service … )

Music is not merely some sounds around the text but, with the text, is woven in such way that text and tune become one fabric, one message.  The primary purpose of music is to communicate THE message of Jesus Christ.  If you page through Lutheran Service Book or Lutheran Worship or The Lutheran Hymnal, it is easy to see what I mean.  There are hymns there that tell a story over many stanzas, both summarizing and saying in the actual words of Scripture the message of the Gospel (and not only Gospel but also Law).  They are theological as well as doxological — in fact we might say that in order to be doxological they must be theological, conveying and confessing the truth of God’s own self-disclosure and revelation …

George Weigel, noted Roman Catholic theological and social commentator, has noticed this as well.  Read what he has written:  I love hymns. I love singing them and I love listening to them …

For classic Lutheran theology, hymns are a theological “source:” not up there with Scripture, of course, but ranking not-so-far below Luther’s “Small Catechism.” Hymns, in this tradition, are not liturgical filler. Hymns are distinct forms of confessing the Church’s faith. Old school Lutherans take their hymns very seriously.

Most Catholics don’t. Instead, we settle for hymns musically indistinguishable from “Les Mis” and hymns of saccharine textual sentimentality. Moreover, some hymn texts in today’s Catholic “worship resources” are, to put it bluntly, heretical …

 He gets what some Lutherans have forgotten or chosen to ignore. What we sing is either what we believe, teach and confess or it is simply what we think or feel.  While there is nothing wrong with feelings and passion in worship, what we sing is not an aesthetic experience, not an artistic experience, not a musical experience, but the place where the Word speaks and music assists the speaking of that Word

Yes, and that is what so many of us grew up with and what we miss today.  A number of people have correctly noted that the praise band thing really relates to how we feel, not how best we can give praise and glory to our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.  When we reads the Old Testament, particularly the Psalms, we grasp the importance of worship — prayer, praise and song which glorify God. God’s Chosen worshipped Him with reverence and thanksgiving.  (I’m omitting the times when they made imperfect sacrifices and flawed acts of worship.)  Is that because they had a closer relationship to Him than we do?  How do we change that?  How do we get to the heart of the matter that He is sovereign over us, fallen men in a fallen world? 

Those of us of a certain age remember a Friday night television programme in the US called In Concert, which featured the top bands from the early 1970s in 15-minute sets. That, to me, is what some present-day services resemble: son-et-lumière, loud music and an atmosphere designed to appeal to our earthly senses.  Do we imagine that God is pleased with this?  Many would say yes, but do we say that to justify ourselves?  If you’re shaking your head along to music in the pew or in a comfy theatre-style chair, is that giving praise to the Almighty?  Let’s think that one through.

My final feature of Pastor Peters’s is on liturgical language, another personal favourite (or is that bugbear?) of mine.  In ‘The Language that Soars’, he writes:

The language of the liturgy is not primarily to communicate clearly but to elevate this communication to the highest level of poetry, to the sublime and elegant …

Sadly, there is too little language that moves us upward and too much that is eminently forgettable when it comes to the worship of the Lord’s House.  I am not speaking of something contrived (unless we deliberately seek to confuse and confound) but the ability to turn a phrase into a moment of grandeur that stays with you.  We all recall the phrasing of the classic collects (O God from whom all good things come…, for example).  This noble and elegant prose seems almost poetic in the way the phrases lift our attention and move us — not in competition with what they say but saying what is said with the best of our gifts …

I lament the loss of language’s gift with respect to Bible translations, much of contemporary hymnody and church song, nearly all of the home grown liturgy, and the prayers of the Church.  It is pedestrian language — boring to the speaker and to the hearer.  Devoid of the elegance deserved by the words that speak of the Word made flesh, we are left with a flat tongue that says what it means but empty and mundane in the way it says it.

When I pray the Te Deum from TLH I am reminded of the power of language and of the great loss when we fail to use its gift well in service to the Lord and His House.  With each succeeding hymnal we lose more and more of the power of this language.

Just so.   

Church services really need to return to the notion of being centred around God not man.  We have been bombarded for decades now about the so-called importance of changing to meet the culture.  No!  Worship is our cherished opportunity to meet God in a sublime way.  So many people I talk to miss the mysterium tremendum of the traditional church service.  Whilst I can appreciate that not everyone reading this will have grown up in a strictly traditional or liturgical environment, those of us who have would do well to consider the legacy which we are so rapidly losing to popular culture.  Don’t forget, in time, that, too, will change — and, once again, we’ll need a whole new hymnal and liturgy to ‘meet’ it on its even more miserable terms. 

 

Covering ears fotosearchcom‘Why aren’t you SINGING?’

You really want to know?  Because I’m fed up to the back teeth with this feminised brand of Jesus and its moratorium on any hymns that hint at spiritual strength.  I’m also sick and tired of hymns that sound like bad pop tunes.  I’m also tired of churchy songwriters making a mint off of royalties for heretical lyrics and awful melodies. 

Please — leave the Church alone!  How much would I have to pay you to JUST GO AWAY?

Is it any wonder that attendance is falling?  Even more surprising is that neither Catholic nor Protestant clergy can figure it out!  (I make sure I go to a service with no music.)

What can’t we sing anymore?  The list is endless, but for starters, ‘Onward, Christian Soldiers’ and ‘A Mighty Fortress Is Our God’. 

One Reformed blog addressed the issue recently:

… what do we do when some people—especially blokes—won’t even open their mouths in the songs? (I am talking about committed Christians.)

Answers range from encouraging song leaders to adopt a lower profile to emphasising the reasons why we sing in church.  However, other readers write in to say that many people just don’t know the music and resent being told to sing loudly by an overly-enthusiastic song leader. Emotion and men don’t mix — and rightly so.  I would have added my comment, but they won’t accept pseudonyms.

Strangely, not one of these male commenters — godly and well-versed in theology though they are — suggested that these modern compositions are simply wussy.   That worries me quite a bit. 

Meanwhile, at Reformation 21, a professor at Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Dr Carl Trueman, shares his thoughts about modern church services (emphasis mine throughout):

I heard recently of a church service involving dressing up in costume and music taken from a Tom Cruise movie.  Now, if I go for my annual prostate examination, and the doctor comes into the consulting room dressed as Coco the Clown, with `Take my breath away’ from Top Gun playing in the background, guess what?  I’m going to take the doctor out with a left hook, flee the surgery, and probably file a complaint with the appropriate professional body.   This is serious business; and if he looks like a twit and acts like a twit, then I can only conclude that he is a twit.

You can tell a lot about someone’s theology from what they do in church.  Involve [pop] music in your worship service, and I can tell not only that you have no taste in music but also that you have nothing to offer theologically to those who come through the church doors; indeed, what you do have can probably be found better elsewhere … More seriously, however, why certain orthodox churches strive to look like them, worries me intensely. Look, it’s rubbish.  So let’s just call it rubbish, shall we?

Back to men, taking into account Dr Trueman’s comment.  The Telegraph (UK) reported on a survey taken earlier this year which found that men don’t like modern church music or any of the other touchy-feely elements of today’s services:

A majority of men, 60 per cent, said they do not like flowers and embroidered banners in church with 52 per cent saying they do not like dancing in church.

Comments gathered from the survey of 400 UK readers of the men’s magazine Sorted also showed many did not like hugging, holding hands or sitting in circles discussing their feelings in church.

Nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said they enjoyed singing – but added comments showing they preferred anthemic songs and ‘proclamational’ hymns as opposed to more emotional love songs.

Nearly three quarters, or 72 per cent, said their favourite part of a service was the talk or sermon.

My late father would have been in sync with these findings.  I remember clearly the day that Sister Rosemary (who seemed to appear in our parish out of nowhere) and a new liturgist (ditto — but he looked like Carlos Santana, so he was ‘cool’) strode down the side aisle just before Mass one Saturday evening so gosh darned pleased with themselves.  This would have been 1971 or 1972.  All of a sudden, we had Sister on the piano (!) and ‘Carlos’ on electric guitar.  I watched my dad and the other dads visibly stiffen.  ‘C’mon, join in — everybody!’  From that moment forward, it really was just mothers and daughters singing.  After a few weeks of this, it wasn’t long before Dad said to Mom and me afterward, ‘I wish I were a Baptist.  At least they sing real hymns.’  Every other guy was probably thinking the same thing.

Please feel free to circulate this post to your clergy and liturgists.  This cannot be said too often.  Let us restore a sense of gravitas and propriety to our church services, especially if we wish to attract and retain our men.

More on music soon, after I recover.

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