the art of church music


Since I have to be at ballet class by 9 AM, I thought I would do my and my Mom’s bills. I have skipped doing them for a week. ¬†Usually, I email Eileen with a synopsis and snapshot of our bills and finances each week and do likewise in an email to my Mom, my brother, his wife and Eileen with my Mom’s bills.

I finished my bills and then Gmail went down. Ah. A reprieve.

Thought I would do a quick blog while I wait.

I have almost read the entire introduction to J.R. Watson’s The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study. I waltzed over to the seminary library when I realized they had a copy of this and checked it out.

It amuses me. Watson seems to have written an odd little book that acknowledges the fading importance of its subject while it cordons off a conservative little take on the literary understanding of hymnody.

He bemoans the practice of changing hymn texts by hymnal committees although this is part of the hymn practice all the way back to John Wesley altering hymns of George Herbert and Isaac Watts.

He (and other professors I have listened to) are strongly under the influence of the academic insistence of fidelity to original texts. I think this is mistaken when applied to the art of hymnody.

Speaking of art, my brother the Episcopal priest is visiting. Last night in our conversations I found myself mentioning the art that I practice, that of Church Music.  Like hymnody itself, this art is changing and also like hymnody it is barely acknowledged as a field.

I was speaking to Mark about a church musician we both know and saying something like who can blame him for not thinking of church music as art, when in fact so few people do.

On the other hand, this art is a pleasure to me at this point in my life. I enjoy the wide range of congregational song we use at my church. I enjoy learning and performing organ and choral music. So what the hell.


J. R. Watson cited a couple of cool poems with references to the erosion of hymnody and faith. They were both online. Recommended reading.

Aubade – Philip Larkin

Waking Early Sunday Morning by Robert Lowell


Under Citizens United, Public Employees Are Compelled to Pay for Corporate Political Speech –

Didn’t get a chance to treadmill yesterday so I didn’t get the paper read all the way through. This article however attracted my interest. The author does a nice little dance about the funding of public pensions as a compelled source for political money. Cute.


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