I had a very full weekend. Saturday was intense due to my conversation with Martin Pasi. Sunday was a long hard day. We went to see my Mom before church because we knew we would have to rush off after church to Whitehall for the celebration of Eileen’s Mom’s 91st.
Saturday left my head spinning.
I am feeling pretty isolated in the way in which I approach church music. It helped me to clarify myself to Pasi that I am a 1979 Prayer Book kind of Episcopalian church musician and that makes me an anomaly (at least I think it does).
Just before church yesterday, Christian the curate informed me that he has permission from Rev Jen to start a Blue Grass Mass at the New Holland Brewery on Saturday mornings. I think his plan is to start with music from local musicians, have a brief music-less Eucharist, and then more music.
This is a joint venture between our church and Hope Church, a local RCA community. Christian isn’t trying to involve me so much as seeking my input. I pointed out to him the theological differences between the traditions. As far as I can see, the RCA tradition freely borrows from the liturgical tradition without completely defining and connecting with ritual clarity that is available in the 1979 Prayer book for Episcopalians.
I told Christian that for me, music in prayer is first and foremost the “work of the people.” This is a catch phrase that I expected him to recognize referring to a certain understanding of liturgy.
I see myself between two extremes in my church music philosophy. On the one extreme we have situations like St. Mark’s Cathedral in Seattle doing its precious compline, NOT from the Prayer book and more from an academic back look at the 19th century (even though they may think it’s “Medieval” it looks more about the Anglican tradition of Cathedral church music than the participatory liturgical tradition that grew out of Vatican II and could possibly flourish in this century).
This extreme feels a bit like a museum dedicated to a certain style of doing church. The other extreme might be represented in the way Christian seems to see prayer and music and people. Christian has mentioned he is uncomfortable with “organ music.” The tastes that he has expressed to me have been limited. He assigned his wife, Jodi, the role of picking music for their ordination. It seemed that the one thing he was interested in for it was the Sufjan Stevens piece that I transcribed and we performed. The pic below is us doing that piece.
If liturgical communities in the Episcopal church head in either of these directions, stuffy or loose, I feel out of touch since I would like to venture into an eclectic mix of interesting stuff with an emphasis on participation. I’m hoping that my boss has the wisdom to gently ease me out of my gig if I become less in touch with the needs of my community.
Yesterday had a fun moment. The prelude was three variations on the tune of the opening hymn, “Earth and All Stars.” I was intent in my concentration since I didn’t practice as much as I would have if my organ had an Ab in the pedal before Friday. When I glanced up after the last variation, I saw that the congregation was standing as though the prelude were the introduction for the opening hymn.
Last time this happened they launched into the opening hymn without me and I was forced to join in on the organ. This time, they didn’t do that. So I went on and did a hymn intro.
Whew. I am feeling my age this morning.
Thank God my first ballet class isn’t until 11 AM.
I didn’t have time to treadmill this weekend, so I’m still catching up with reading the paper. This story blew me away. The FBI didn’t vet its charges for this guy with any kind of efficiency. They raided his home with guns drawn. Wow.
Eastern Bloc’s Resistance to Refugees Highlights Europe’s Cultural and Political Divisions – The New York Times
Lech Walesa back in the news. What a disheartening story.
The NYT art critic has an interesting take on this museum and at the same time is expressing a specific view about the art of our time.
So much for sports building character, eh? My brother-in-law Dave remarked on how fanatical sports people could be as we sat in a sports bar yesterday and people were yelling and cheering. Now I wonder if he had read about this story as well.