Saturday, March 07, 2009

Je suis très triste

I began worshipping at St James, King Street 3 years ago when I could no longer worship in churches which were becoming less and less Anglican in their forms of worship and where I could expect at any time to hear a homophobic sermon.

It requires me to leave home just after 6.30am and I arrive back just before 1pm.

There are 3 regular services.
7.45am Said Eucharist
9.00am Sung Eucharist
11.00am Choral Eucharist

I usually attend Sung Eucharist.

At Easter, Christmas and St James Day we have a combined service at 10am which is Choral Eucharist.

For Choral Eucharist we have a Professional Choir and a Head of Music who was recently headhunted from England, I presume at some expense. Music consumes about 20% of the parish expenditure.
The Kyries are sung in Greek and the Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus and Agnus Dei are sung in Latin along with the motets as we take Communion.

I guess these are beautiful but I find my legs ache, my mind wanders, sometimes I try to remember my schoolboy Latin to follow how much longer each will be.

I like to sing and enjoy singing each of the above in English at Sung Eucharist. (I am not sure if my neighbours equally enjoy it but no-one has complained, I believe I sing in key)

Yesterday I received a bombshell when my sister sent me an email headed: St James new service time and saying "How does this suit you?"
I had not yet downloaded and read the March Monthly News and did so to find the Rector announcing that from late June every Sunday St James would have just a 10am service of Choral Eucharist.

The time is a nuisance I could tolerate. I would leave home later but would not arrive back for lunch until 2pm, however if the service runs late (more likely with Choral Eucharist) it would be 3pm.

However Choral Eucharist every week is something I would find intolerable. I feel Music should enhance our worship not become the focus of it.

So again I will be moving. Christ Church St Laurence at the other end of the city is more Anglo-Catholic and has "Solemn High Mass" at 1o.30am but does have Sung Eucharist at 9am so I will first try this out.

St Mark's at Granville (a migrant largely Muslim area) describes itself as the only moderately high church in the western suburbs and it is actually closer to home but the priest moved to Queensland last year and who ++Jensen will allow to be the replacement is problematic. Its webpage has disappeared.

All the other inclusive churches in the Diocese are east of the city, impossible to reach regularly.

A few months ago my sister asked "Won't you miss St James when you move to Dunedin?" Perhaps this is God's answer.


Anonymous said...

Any church services is (or should be) a time to participate as well as observe, not a performance alone, which is why Sung Eucharist is more engaging. So I appreciate your discomfort.

Yet, is not membership of a community that you know and who know you also valuable? A difficult decision.

Brian R said...

Apparently the above comment is from Grandmere Mimi. I do not know what happened there.
Thanks Mimi for your thoughts.
Apparently I am not the only one upset as yesterday after the Sung Eucharist the Rector said the decision was not set in stone and he welcomed polite and signed comments (it seems some were not) I have sent him a polite and signed email on behalf of my sister and me.

Anonymous said...

I don't see either you or grandmere Mimi contributing each week to any extempore public prayers, or constructing a new building in which to worship, why should you think that rehearsed music sung by others is any less authentic as religious experience?
As a church musician I find your categorisation of the Choral Eucharist as a performance to be both dismissive of and condescending to artists who use their God-given talents in the best way that they are able.
BTW, when I last looked Dunedin Cathedral had no Sung Eucharist, either.

Brian R said...

Thank you for your comment lassiem. I have not claimed the singing is not an authentic religious experience. It just does nothing for me especially in a foreign language. I am quite happy for it to be available at 11am. I like to sing myself. Why should I contribute to a new building in a city where churches are being closed?
As an Anglican I prefer set prayers rather than extempore prayers. However there is a section in our service for prayers led by people who want to do that and I find that important in the worship. I have no ability to do that. I have not yet decided whether to worship at the Dunedin cathedral or the local church in Roslyn. Both my visits to the cathedral have been on Remembrance Day so have been special services. The local church has a choir but mainly to lead the congregation. There is much more choice for me there as most of the Diocese is inclusive and welcoming of gay people.

Anonymous said...

Hi Brian, Don't get me wrong - I think SJKS is making a wrong move. Perhaps if it were pointed out to them that this idea of the one-service-fits-all actually copies the US 'all-age' worship-as-entertainment, they might think again.
I just don't think your perceived lack of involvement in CE as a layperson warrants dismissing it so whole-heartedly, that's all.
I am more dismayed by the suspicion that only 'Latin Masses and Motets' will be used. This leaves out a whole 500 years of English Church Music - that would be on a par with Sydney Diocese's efforts to junk the Prayer Book.

Davis said...

There may be more smells and bells at Christ Church St Laurence, but there are some lovely people there too!