Friday, September 19, 2008

Music for the Eucharist of the Anglican Church

I've been involved in Anglican Church music in some capacity for almost thirty years.  My parents enrolled me in the local Cathedral Men and Boys choir when I was eight years old, and within the first four months of moving away from my home city, I took a job as choirmaster at an Anglican Parish, where I've been director of music now for five of the last eleven years.

Back at the Cathedral, as you might expect, we used different settings of the Eucharist every week, in the style of British Cathedral music programs.  Some of the composers of these settings included the likes of Harold Darke, Charles Wood, John Stainer, Byrd, Charles V. Stanford and other British masters, as well as Palestrina, Victoria, Schubert and Mozart, and a host of Canadian composers as well.

At my current parish we rely on Merbecke for the Traditional services, and the American composer, Richard Proulx for the modern language service, and Gordon Light for our contemporary service, and it's been this way since 1982, a good 15 years before I showed up.

I've been thinking for the last few years that it is time for a change.  This Sunday, in celebration of the anniversary of a prominent parishioner and chorister, we are singing Charles Wood's setting in the Phrygian mode (often known as "Wood in the Phryg" (pronounced "fridge"), and it is going to be stunning!   As much as I'd like to make the inclusion of a choral eucharist setting a regular event at the church, I'm sure that it will be met with opposition from parishioners who feel that removing any part of the congregation's opportunity to sing is a step backwards.  So I'm trying to find a solution where we can all win, perhaps adding this element to our worship once a month, or maybe just on major feast days an holidays.

Well, if that idea is met with opposition, which I expect it will, at the very least, I think it might be time to retire the Proulx in favour for a new congregational setting.

If you have any ideas of settings of the eucharist for the modern language, which is the same at the Catholic Mass, that is particularly singable from a congregation standpoint, and "Anglican", you know, the kind of singing that doesn't induce instant hand waving or clapping on beats one and three?  I'd love hear your suggestions!


I'm Still Me said...

I'll write one for you! Can I add some elements of hip-hop and rap?

Crimson Rambler said...

I vote we call in Alan Jackson and maybe Jimmy Buffet if he's not busy -- :-0