Wednesday, 21 August, began with Morning Prayer led by the German language group. After making the Sign of the Cross, we sang the hymn “Lasst uns loben, freudig loben,” whose text was written by Georg Thumair and whose music was by Erhard Quack. A reading of the Letter to the Romans 12:9-12, followed by silence, and a spoken collect concluded the prayer.
I offered the next major presentation, entitled “Sacrosanctum Concilium A Musical Appraisal.” Devoted to a detailed analysis of Chapter Six, I conclude: “SC displays a desire to converse the past musical legacy of the Church as living prayer in service to the Roman Rite and not simply as an aesthetic or historical heritage, especially in the singing of Gregorian chant, in promoting the ministry of choirs, and in the use of the pipe organ. But by far the thrust of the document is to extend the possibilities of Roman Rite liturgical music: 1) by emphasizing the role of active music-making by the entire assembly as a form of full and conscious liturgical participation; 2) by allowing the use of vernacular texts to be set musically for liturgical worship (not simply in devotions), probably as a prime means of securing the liturgical participation of the faithful; 3) by promoting programs of liturgical music formation for clergy, religious and laity; 4) by embracing styles of music in addition to Gregorian chant and of instruments in addition to the pipe organ as long as those styles and instruments enable the liturgy to achieve its purpose; 5) by acknowledging the cultural encodings carried by music, thus opening up the analysis of liturgical music to the human sciences; and 6) by encouraging composers to produce compositions responsive to changes in liturgical texts and ritual settings enabling the active participation of the assembly.” A fairly lively discussion ensued, both immediately after the presentation and in linguistic group meetings afterward.
After music rehearsal for Thursday prayer and for the Eucharist, Bill Tamblyn led a workshop on world music and its connections to worship. (Because I was both tired from giving my presentation and from the effects of jet lag, I skipped this workshop for a much needed nap, so I am not able to report further on its content, except to say that participants told me afterward that it was very lively and involved much enthusiastic singing [in Chinese, various African languages, Tagalog, etc.], with dancing, gesture, and improvised percussion.)
The bishop of Arundel and Brighton, the Rt. Rev. Kieren Conry, presided over the central Eucharist of the meeting on Wednesday afternoon, assisted by the newly elected Abbot of Worth, Fr. Luke. Our Gathering Music was the Jacques Berthier “Laudate Dominum,” with verses sung by Catherine Christmas accompanied by organ and a small instrumental ensemble; the contrast between the full-throated singing of the SATB ostinato by itself and its very soft rendition under the soloist was quite wonderful in the rich acoustic of the Worth Abbey Church. After 1 Thessalonians 2:2-8 was proclaimed in English and Polish (I think), Catherine led us in Paul Inwood’s exquisite setting of Psalm 88(89) “I will sing forever of your love, O Lord.” After a short silence for reflection, we stood to sing an SATB Gospel Acclamation by Derek Fry, including the choral verse “I am the good shepherd, says the Lord; I know my own sheep and my own know me.” John 21:15-17 was proclaimed in English, an Eastern European language, and French, with a strong homily following, in which Bishop Conry spoke of new insights he had gained into the behavior of sheep from some time spent in Calvados that might have implications for our ministry; the importance of three words in the Gospel reading – sheep, love, and feed; and how our ministries as liturgical musicians were to touch the hearts of worshipers with the presence, knowledge and beauty of God. Paul Inwood, our organist, offered an evocative improvisation during the Preparation of the Gifts. We sang the Eucharistic Acclamations, Lord’s Prayer, and Lamb of God fundamentally in Latin from the settings provided by the Collegeville Composers’ group in Psallite, although the Lamb of God was especially enriched with invocations from almost all of the languages of the participants present. Catherine Christmas again served as cantor for the verses of our communion processional, “If You Love Me, Feed My Lambs,” also from the Psallite project. After the bishop’s concluding blessing, the ministers processed out and we dispersed to another organ voluntary by Paul Inwood.
The day concluded with aperitifs, a magnificent festive dinner, and shared entertainment and conversation in the commons room bar. It comprised another rich experience of multi-cultural perspectives, shared laughter and insight, and mutual prayer.