This chapter focuses on the applied aesthetics of Anglican worship. As a seventeenth-century development, with definitive roots in the sixteenth-century Reformation, as well as in the Western Catholic tradition, Anglican aesthetics is a complex interaction of all sorts of factors, theological, cultural, and historical, which at times make it appear contradictory, even dysfunctional. Beginning with the particular case study of the opening Eucharist of the 2008 Lambeth Conference, the chapter goes on to show how Anglican identity in worship has from its very beginnings been constantly evolving and responding to new contextual challenges. After discussing the importance of church music and hymnody and charting its development through the centuries, it moves on to describe the architectural shape of the liturgy which has also evolved along with changing patterns of worship. It concludes by suggesting that it will continue to evolve into the future in as yet uncharted ways.
On Sundays around Word and Table and at prayer during the week, Christians in their worship have created music for congregational assemblies and for choirs, spawning artistic “folk” music and “art” music by remarkably able composers, among them anonymous persons, as well as those whose names we know, such as J. S. Bach. Some Christians have objected to music, obliterating it altogether from worship or restricting it, but over the long haul it has blossomed artistically and freely in various styles and forms. This chapter describes positions that have been taken and gives a brief history of the church’s encounter with music, from generative psalms and canticles to the present.
This article focuses on the libretto and musical setting of The Messiah. Handel and his librettist, Charles Jennens, provide a rounded and convincing impression of Jesus as Messiah through textual and musical allusion and resonance. Part of the potency of the libretto lies in its ‘blanks’, what it leaves unsaid (and unsung), thus inviting the listener to construct the necessary connections. The music provides ‘harmony’ in more than just its musical sense, melding Old Testament prophecy to the Christian perspective in a way that exceeds what the texts can do on their own. Scraps of biblical text, only sporadically continuous, are somehow rendered part of the one work, or rather the one experience that the listener witnesses in a single performance. Music thus functions as a form of rhetoric, rendering a message convincing through emphasis, repetition, elaboration, and a rich array of emotional constructs that can capture the listener's attention over the span of time delineated by the musical forms.
Swee Hong Lim
This article looks at the practice of music and hymnody in various Asian contexts that are not necessarily Methodist, but are significant in affording us a glimpse of the general state of music and hymnody in Asia. At the same time, it offers some thoughts on the contextualisation of church music that can elucidate current developments in music and hymnody. It is crucial that ‘hymnody’ is not taken in its strictest hymnological sense, i.e., strophic verses set to music. Rather, it needs to be defined as pieces of music sung by the congregation in Christian worship. Hymnody needs to encompass strophic, composed, and short, repetitive song types.
Order and Uniformity, Decorum, and Taste: Sermons Preached at the Anniversary Meeting of the Three Choirs, 1720–1800
The Three Choirs Festival is considered the world’s oldest music festival, dating back to the eighteenth century, when it was known as the Anniversary Meeting of the Three Choirs. This article focuses on the sermons preached during the Anniversary Meetings of the Three Choirs from 1720-1800. There are only twenty-nine published sermons that survive from the more than eighty Anniversary Meetings that were held during this period. The sermons offer valuable insights about the social, political, and religious context of eighteenth-century English church music, and the attitudes of those who sought to uphold its continued use.