Yes, you can find God at a concert. God is present there. Yes, God is with those who do not claim faith in God, do not entrust themselves to God. God can work through atheists. And agnostics.….

I was recently at a service of Choral Evensong. The acoustics were such that I could not pick out a single word that the choir was chanting as the words of the psalm echoed throughout the building. Not a single one. I presumed they were chanting in English, but had they been chanting in Latin or another language, I would not have been able to tell.

All that the audience congregation we were given to do in the nave was to recite the Apostles’ Creed, and sing a hymn at the end (Oh, yes, we all stood when someone figured out the choir was singing the Glory be).

At another recent service I attended in this choral tradition, only two of the adult choir members received communion. Certainly I understand that sometimes there will be members of a choir who are there for the music – full stop. Also, I understand that individuals may fluctuate in faith; there may be a Sunday when a regular, for whatever reason (including unreconciled sin), may decide not to participate fully and not receive communion. The choir is part of the leadership of a service. Is there a critical mass of people of faith needed in a choir (in the leadership of any service) to move a service from the concert end of the spectrum to the common prayer end? Is 14% enough critical mass?

At the start of the echoing Choral Evensong service we are informed this is the pinnacle of our Reformation heritage; this is the treasure bequeathed to us by Cranmer; I guess – this is what Cranmer died for.

Or do you think that Cranmer was concerned with having liturgy where there is full, conscious, and active participation by everyone present? [Obviously, this is not to say for a moment that one is not/cannot be participating fully, consciously, and actively when you are listening or in silence.]

In New Zealand when Anglicans and others hear the word “liturgy” – I think the first image that regularly springs to their minds is of this experience of Choral Evensong – or similar events. Because there is little to no liturgical training, study, and formation those who are into that type of thing pass on practices by non-reflecting example. So that, in liturgy, the emPHAsis increasingly is on the wrong syLLABle. There is more ritual and reverence with burse and veil and silver collection plate than there would ever be with the consecrated bread and wine…

*****

Yes, apparently, I was told later, I could have picked up the BCP amongst the plethora of books provided in front of me, found the place which indicated which psalm was set, and construct the words that were echoing around me. Concluding on a less serious note you, of course, hear whatever you read:

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