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Weary & ill at ease 

A survey of the attitudes of 

clergy and musicians to the 

role of music in English 

parish-church worship 



= ? 

Robin L. D. Rees 

To the clergy and musicians of the Church of England 

Seated one day at tfie organ, 
I was weary and' iff at ease, 
J^nd'my fingers wandered'idiy 
Over tfie noisy keys. 

From The Tost Chord by Adelaide Procter 
set to music by Arthur Sullivan 

Weary And 111 At Ease 

A survey of the attitudes of clergy and musicians 
to the role of music in English parish-church worship 


First published UK 1993 

The right of Robin L. D. Rees to be identified as the Author 

of this Work has been asserted by him in accordance with the 

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. 

Republished on the Internet Archive 


under a 

Creative Commons 

Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported Licence 


© Robin L. D. Rees 1993, 2012 

Cover illustration by Robin L. D. Rees 2012 

Typesetting by Robin L. D. Rees 


Foreword by the Bishop of Oxford 7 

Preface 9 

Introduction 12 

1 Through all the changing scenes of life 30 

Recent developments in church music 

2a The call to arms is sounding 75 

Three case studies 

2b Prophets, teachers, true recorders 86 

The survey by questionnaire 

3 Captains of the saintly band 94 
Musical directors and priests: their 

similarities and differences 

4 O faith of England 118 
The church and its people 

5 He who would valiant be 128 
The church and its musical director 

6 Come, let us join our cheerful songs 147 
The church and its music in worship 


7 Happy are they 170 

Problem areas and ways of improving 
the relationship 

Conclusion 181 

Appendix: Contact details 187 

Bibliography 189 



by the Bishop of Oxford 

I have always rather prided myself on establishing good 
relationships with organists and choirmasters. This is rooted 
in a strong sense of my own musical inadequacy. I am happy 
to recognize and respond to the expertise of others in this 
field. However, it is clear that for a variety of reasons 
relationships between clergy and organists are not always 
right. Furthermore, it is clear that there is a great turmoil in 
the Church over music generally. 

I very much welcome Weary And III At Ease, based as it is 
upon long experience and careful research. The Anglican 
musical tradition is one of the glories of the world. Although 
it flowers and blossoms in cathedrals, it is rooted in the 
parish church, however small. It is, therefore, important that 
this outstanding tradition of music should be kept alive and 
the appropriate excellence fostered. 

It is no less obvious that we need new music today. Much 
is being produced, but alas a good deal of this is banal, 
ephemeral in the extreme, or totally unmemorable. Yet every 
now and again new words and new music combine to 
produce something really worthwhile, which becomes 
accepted right across the churches. Good new music and 
good new writing need to be encouraged. In short, we need 
as always the best of the old and the best of the new. Every 
generation is different and our perception of what is the best 
will not necessarily be the same as that of our forebears. So 



there is a constant shifting of taste. Yet some things endure 
and others are rediscovered. 

In the changing, sometimes difficult, but potentially 
creative situation that we are now in as far as music in 
Church is concerned, it is very good to have Weary And III At 
Ease. I wish it well. May it help all those involved in the 
musical life of the Church to raise our hearts to God in joy. 

+ Richard Oxon 

The Rt Revd Lord Harries of Pentregarth was the Bishop of 
Oxford from 1987 to 2006. He was previously the Dean of 
King's College London, where he is now [2012] an Honorary 
Professor of Theology. 


The preamble to the BBC radio quiz I'm Sorry, I Haven't A 
Clue describes the programme as an antidote to panel games. 
The official Report of the Archbishops' Commission on 
Church Music, In Tune With Heaven, was published only a 
few months ago, and some may consider Weary And III At 
Ease to be an antidote to official reports. This is not to say 
that there is anything wrong with official reports, as indeed 
there is nothing wrong with panel games. I hope that the two 
books, written from their different viewpoints and in their 
different styles, will be seen as complementing one another. 

How did this book come about? For more than 30 years I 
have been a regular churchgoer, usually, but not always, 
singing in the choir. On many occasions and in widely 
differing circumstances I have seen music cease to be a force 
for unity, and become instead an occasion for division — with 
disastrous consequences for all concerned. 

Many of my evangelical friends would argue that the root 
cause of such division is sin. In a sense, no doubt, they are 
right. However, as well as being a Christian by persuasion, I 
am a scientist by training, and for some time I have wondered 
whether a systematic study might not throw some much 
needed light on the matter. It seemed unlikely that anyone else 
would ever embark on such a study and, when it became clear 
that my employer, the University of Oxford, would allow me 
to work part-time, and that through a family legacy I could 
afford to do so, I grasped the opportunity with both hands. 


This book is based upon the work that I undertook for a PhD 
degree, awarded in 1991 by the University of Sheffield. 

I have been fortunate in certain freedoms normally denied 
to authors of official reports. The opinions and conclusions 
here are entirely my own, though they have been reached 
after discussion with colleagues and friends. I have some- 
times strayed beyond my stated brief, either because some 
piece of information is spread over many different publica- 
tions, or because it is not published at all. Finally, and I think 
this important, I have tried where possible to make the book 
entertaining. As jester Jack Point reminds us: 

When they're offered to the world in merry guise, 
Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will — 

For he who'd make his fellow-creatures wise 
Should always gild the philosophic pill! 1 

Many individuals and institutions assisted in the project, 
and I am glad to be able to record my thanks to them. Firstly 
I am most grateful to my research supervisors Dr Alan Brown 
and Professor Edward Garden. The book Rural Anglicanism 
by the Revd Dr Leslie Francis (now Professor) first 
suggested to me the feasibility of my project: I thank him for 
that, and for sharing with me his experience in the design and 
use of questionnaires. I am indebted also to Canon Vincent 
Strudwick. He not only allowed the project to take place in 
the Oxford Diocese, but actively encouraged it, smoothing 
my path to the door of many a Rural Dean. 

I am grateful too for help from many others, including Bryan 
Anderson, Dr Penny Atkinson, Lin Barnetson, Ronald Bay- 
field, Harry Bramma, Clive Bright, Gerald Burton, Mervyn 
Byers, Dr Lionel Dakers, Canon Arthur Dobb, Roger Doughty, 
Canon Anthony Gann, Geoffrey Gleed, Dr Mark Gretason, Dr 
Paul Griffiths, Dr Berkeley Hill, Geoffrey Holroyde, Dr Roger 
Homan, Tony Hunter, Michael Keeling, the Revd David 
Manship, the Revd Geoff Maugham, the Very Revd Michael 
Mayne, Richard Osmond, Geoff Palmer, David Peacock, 

1 W.S. Gilbert: The Yeomen Of The Guard. 



Doreen Peters, Betty Rees, Dr Dave Rossiter, Anthony Russell, 
Patrick Russill, the Revd Christopher Rutledge, Katy Semper, 
Robin Sheldon, Dr Chris Spencer, Sheridan Swinson, Bill 
Tamblyn, the late Canon Cyril Taylor, Ian Traynar, Andrew 
Underwood, Canon William Vanstone, Vincent Waterhouse, 
Roger Wilkes, Dr John Winter and Dr Jim Wrightson. 

I thank those bodies that contributed grants towards the 
expenses of the project: Bedford College [London] Association 
Special Fund Trust, Culham Educational Foundation, the 
Diocese of Oxford, the Music in Worship Trust, the Royal 
School of Church Music, and J. Wippell & Co. Ltd. 

No questionnaire, however well planned, can be of any use 
without the co-operation of the respondents. I was most 
fortunate in this, and wish to record my thanks to all those 
who took the time and trouble to complete them. One hard- 
pressed clergyman actually completed eight. 

Most of all, my thanks go to Ceridwen for her forbearance. 
When I began the project, two months after our getting 
married, neither of us realised just how much time I would be 
spending on it. I was also blessed with two faithful com- 
panions during the many 'slow watches of the night' that I 
spent at the computer — our dogs Judy and Sheba. My most 
recent 'assistant' by day has been our baby daughter Bethan, 
who on several occasions joined me on my lap as I typed. 

Reformatting my book for the Internet has caused me to 
reflect on what I wrote twenty years ago — and to spot the 
occasional error! In this I have been helped by my wife 
Helen, and Bethan. 

Much has changed in the C. of E. since 1992. Common 
Worship has replaced The Alternative Service Book; new 
editions of mainstream hymnals have appeared; and the 
'hymn explosion' (page 30) has now built up into what some 
might see as a worship-song tsumani. 

Though the precise data will have changed over the years, I 
believe that the conclusions I drew then are still valid today. 



Few issues arouse such strong feelings as those relating to 
religious belief. Newspapers are not sparing in their reports 
of the discussion of such issues — especially if that discussion 
seems in any way acrimonious. 

Issues confronting the Church of England in recent years 
have included: Anglo-Catholic versus Evangelical (perhaps 
leading ultimately to unity with either Rome or the Free 
Churches); charismatic versus non-charismatic (dictating the 
degree of adherence to liturgy); liberal versus conservative 
(dictating how literally scripture should be interpreted); 
arguments for and against disestablishment (does an 'official' 
Church, with its bishops in the House of Lords, speak with 
greater or less authority — especially if the final selection of 
those bishops rests with a possibly atheist prime minister?); 
the rights and wrongs of the Church (especially the 
Established Church) 'meddling' in national politics; and 
finally, perhaps in the short term most divisive: the move- 
ments for and against the ordination of women as priests. 

In addition to these many controversies there has been the 
age-old debate on the role of music in worship. My principal 
aim in this book is to examine the current state of that debate. 
In particular I have tried, by means of a large-scale 
questionnaire survey, to obtain the views of those who are 
often regarded as the 'party leaders', namely clergy on the one 
hand, and church organists and musical directors on the other. 

In this Introduction we look at the fundamental issues of the 
debate before placing them in the context of the present day. 



We also cast a sidelong glance at other related areas of 
concern. Mine is far from being the only survey of church 
music undertaken since World War II, and the Introduction 
concludes with a review of the other surveys, notably that of 
the recent Archbishops' Commission on Church Music. 

Much has happened to affect music in the Church of 
England in the last 30 years, notably liturgical changes, 
culminating in The Alternative Service Book 1980, and an 
'explosion' of hymns and other congregational music. In 
Chapter 1 we examine not only these, but also the means of 
coming to terms with them, namely courses and qualifications 
in church music. Moving from the general to the particular, in 
Chapter 2 I sketch three case studies in which either the vicar 
or the organist (or both) failed to come to terms with the 
situation. The remainder of the chapter describes how the 
questionnaire survey was managed. Chapters 3-7 contain the 
results of the survey, namely the personal backgrounds and 
general attitudes of clergy and organists, and their perceptions, 
both objective and subjective, of the situation at their church, 
and of each other. Also in Chapter 7 I attempt to draw certain 
conclusions for improving clergy-organist relationships. 

Points of Departure 

Temperley describes how, throughout the history of Christi- 
anity, there have been conflicting currents between those 
holding different views on the use of music in worship. 

There have always been those who recognise the great emotional 
power of music to move men's spirits. Some have as a consequence 
come to mistrust this mysterious power and to exclude it altogether 
from worship, in spite of clear biblical injunctions to praise God with 
psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, and with instruments of 
music (e.g. Psalm 150:3-5; Colossians 3:16). This was the attitude of 
the Quakers and, for a time, of the General Baptists, but it has never 
found appreciable support in the Church of England, except perhaps 
from the unmusical. 

Others, also acknowledging the emotional power of music, have 
been concerned to harness it for the good of men's souls. This view 
has been held by Lutherans, Puritans, Evangelicals, and Tractarians; 



it has led to a concern that music should be sung earnestly and 
spontaneously by the entire congregation, and that both the text sung 
and the music itself should be appropriate to the purpose — but of 
course, opinions have varied widely as to what music is appropriate. 

A third body of opinion denies the role of music as an actual 
vehicle of religious expression, but values it as an ornament in the 
offering to God, as a part of the 'beauty of holiness'. ... In the 
English parish church, the conflict between the second and third of 
these views remains unresolved. There has never been full agreement 
as to whether the primary goal is for people to sing the music as well 
as they can, or for the music to be the best possible. It will be found 
that this issue lies at the back of most of the conflicts and difficulties 
that have punctuated the history of parish church music. 1 

Long considers the difficulties of reconciling the second and 
third views: 

In order to be sung by all conditions of men, melodies must move 
mainly by step . . . must be restricted in range, elementary in rhythm 
and easy to memorise. Admittedly there are many splendid tunes that 
do satisfy these requirements but in the long run such restrictions 
must eventually become a strait jacket, stifling vitality and 
imagination and tending towards uniformity and monotony. 2 

Long's definition of the third group appears to be more 
tolerant than that adopted by Temperley: 

Song is a natural outlet for the expression of our noblest and deepest 
feelings and when these feelings are of worship, praise and 
thanksgiving to Almighty God, we are woefully conscious of how 
inadequate even our utmost skill is to convey all that is in our hearts 
without having that expression arbitrarily scaled down to what less 
gifted people can do. Such artificial limitations and restrictions must 
inevitably give way as we open the flood-gates of pent-up emotions. 

Long goes on to describe what might be termed a cycle in 
religious music, a phenomenon common to other art forms: 

1 Nicholas Temperley, The Music of the English Parish Church (CUP, 
Cambridge, 1979), p. 4. 

2 Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 
London, 1972), pp. 34-35. 



Musical people tend, often unconsciously, to . . . elaborate simple 
basic material to a point where less musical folk can no longer 
participate. . . . The development of church music has often been a 
sinuous line between the musicians, who were constantly enriching it 
with new conceptions, advancing techniques and increasing 
resources (sometimes to the point of extravagance); and the 
reformers, like Pope John XXII, Cranmer, Calvin, the Council of 
Trent, and others, who tried to constrain it and prevent excess. 

In short, music may be seen not just as an aid to worship, but 
actually as a form of worship, expressing realities that mere 
words are quite incapable of conveying. As our old friend the 
Revd Septimus Harding, Precentor of Barchester, put it: 

If there is no music, there is no mystery. If there is no mystery, there 
is no God. If there is no mystery, there is no faith. [ 

It seems very unlikely, however, that those in Temperley's 
first two groups would agree with him on this point. 

The Church 's Response 

One of the marvels of the Anglican Church has been the 
parallel development of two independent, but complemen- 
tary, streams of church music. The parish-church tradition, 
which in general encourages active congregational participa- 
tion in most if not all of the singing, is close to the ideal of 
Temperley's second group. The third group will often take 
delight in the cathedral tradition (and that of collegiate and 
royal chapels), where the music is greater both in extent and 
complexity, and is sung by a choir whose adults nowadays 
are frequently the holders of musical degrees or diplomas. At 
such services, the aim is that worship is offered by the choir 
on behalf of the congregation, since it would clearly be 
impracticable for members of the congregation to join in the 
singing, other than the hymn(s). Indeed at certain cathedrals 
even this seems to be discouraged! 

1 Alan Plater, The Barchester Chronicles, a television dramatisation based on 
The Warden and Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (BBC, London, 



Although the division into parish-church and cathedral 
traditions is in general helpful, it should certainly not be seen 
as absolute. Long describes the situation at cathedrals in the 
first half of the nineteenth century: 

Since senior clergy had no interest whatsoever in cathedral worship 
and its music, they saw little point in wasting money on it. As a 
consequence choirs were so reduced in size that it became impossible 
for them to fulfil their proper function. St. Paul's, which at one time 
had had 42 choirmen, was now reduced to six. 1 

In 1841, when music in cathedrals was at its nadir, Leeds 
Parish Church instituted fully choral services in the cathedral 
tradition, sung by a robed professional choir of men and 
boys. Many parish churches, to a greater or lesser extent, in 
due course followed the example of Leeds. Indeed, the 
revival of choral music in the Anglican Church during the 
second half of the century came initially not from the 
cathedrals but from the parish churches. 2 

The period 1900-70 was marked by a great improvement 
in the musical standards of all church choirs. Long attributes 
this to the work of the training and examining bodies, and the 
opportunities afforded by radio and gramophone to hear 
church music well performed. On the other hand, since the 
end of World War II, parish choirs had been experiencing 
ever-increasing difficulties in recruitment. 3 

Seeds of Conflict 

In recent years, many have written of a breakdown in relations 
between clergy and organists. While still organist at Exeter 
Cathedral, Lionel Dakers was already expressing his concern: 

There is something in the make-up of clergy and organists which on 
occasion impels them to behave both irresponsibly and irrationally. 
Obvious to all are the repercussions of two apparently responsible 
adults, both in prominent parochial positions, being unable to see eye 

Long, p. 320. 
Long, p. 331. 
Long, p. 388. 



to eye. Much harm can be done to the cause of the Church by the 
inevitable tongue wagging which accompanies such incidents. 1 

It was a topic to which, as Director of the Royal School of 
Church Music, he was to return on several occasions: 

To tolerate and respect the other point of view and to be prepared to 
act on it, is difficult for many clergy and organists. The fact that 
music is ultimately the legal responsibility of the parson has been 
known to result in a misplaced power complex, especially if the 
incumbent is unsure of his ground. 2 

A good working relationship is the more essential today if only 
because issues virtually unknown a generation ago now loom large. 
Changes in the shape and language of services inevitably rub off on 
the music and the musicians, and friction can arise the more easily. 
Nowadays, both sides so readily feel threatened and consequently 
tend to react from a position of insecurity. In practice it matters not 
whether this threat is in fact real or imaginary. 3 

On the closely related subject of relations between the clergy 
and the choir, he wrote: 

Whatever conclusions may have been arrived at concerning the 
validity of a choir and whether it may have genuinely become 
outmoded in the face of an agreed change of policy in a church, a 
situation sometimes fuelled by the choir being adamant in refusing to 
concede one iota, those responsible for the dismantling process often 
seem to act in a particularly unsympathetic and frequently 
pre-emptory way. . . . 

What in the event frequently conspires is that the clergy, 
sometimes encouraged by elements within the congregation, adopt 
bulldozing tactics resulting in summary dismissal, this being the 
convenient weapon for a quick kill which causes the greater hurt to 
the recipients. Little account is taken, or probably contemplated, of 
the effect of suddenly cutting musicians off from fulfilling the 
particular gifts they wish to offer towards the enrichment of worship. 

Lionel Dakers, Church Music at the Crossroads (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, 
London, 1970), p. 86. 

Lionel Dakers, A Handbook of Parish Music (Mowbray, London, 1976), p. 45. 
Lionel Dakers, Church Music in a Changing World (Mowbray, Oxford, 1984), 
p. 76. 



This is the more wounding when gifted musicians are alienated and, 
as a result, sometimes permanently lost to the Church. 1 

Were the problems really as great as Dakers would lead us to 
believe? After only six months in the post, his successor was 
already writing: 

Before I came to work at the RSCM I had often heard of breakdown 
in relationships between clergy and organists, but had never 
experienced one at first hand. I had been fortunate in every one of the 
eight places of worship where I had been organist to have enjoyed a 
friendly working partnership with the priest in charge. Could all these 
stories be true, I often asked myself? Alas — I now know they are. 
Hardly a week passes at Addington without a letter or telephone call 
relating to yet another incident of a kind which is becoming 
increasingly common. Disagreements there have always been. But it 
seems the kind of tensions experienced today are more than 
differences of opinion. So often there seems to be a complete 
breakdown of understanding in which ignorance, fear, insensitivity 
and unwillingness to change all feature. 2 

Others have expressed similar concern, although not always 
from the same viewpoint. Here is the view of a clergyman 
from the charismatic wing of the Church: 

If you were to do a survey among Anglican vicars as to who was 
public enemy number one in their church, how many would say the 
organist or the choirmaster? I suspect a very high proportion. I'm not 
sure whether the same is true in non-conformist circles, but in the 
Church of England there is often a fierce rivalry between the musical 
side of the church and its vicar; a rivalry which has been responsible 
for more than a few nervous breakdowns on both sides. 3 

Meanwhile, in a leaflet edited by a group of clergy in the 
Oxford Diocese there appeared the comment: The parson 
may have his freehold, but the organist may have a strangle- 
hold on the parish. 


1 Lionel Dakers, 'Aspects of a questioning age' in Church Music Quarterly, 
July 1987, p. 3. 

2 Harry Bramma, 'Clergy and organists... fellow workers' in Church Music 
Quarterly, October 1989, p. 10. 

3 John Leach, Liturgy and Liberty (MARC, Eastbourne, 1989), p. 81. 

4 'The Lost Accord' in Parish and People, 27 (1986), [p. 2]. We will be 



Any thoughts that this problem may be confined to the 
Church of England are quickly dispelled in a paper by Moores: 

At a recent meeting of the American Guild of Organists in St 
Petersburg, Fla., a regional officer began her speech on clergy- 
organist relationships with an observation about how widespread 
problems are in this area, singling out the Episcopal Church as the 
church where the clergy-organist relationship is characteristically the 
most tense. 1 

He goes on to suggest that musicians and clergy possess 
surprisingly similar types of personality: 

As highly intuitive types, both clergy and musicians deal with the 
world and make decisions more often using information best 
described as subjective, not hard facts or objective data. This use of 
the subjective opens both types to much greater creativity and 
imagination, but it also causes them to act much more decisively on 
the basis of their feelings alone. 

The important role that intuition plays is complicated by the fact 
that both church musicians and clergy preside over 'mysteries'. Who 
understands the evocative power of music? Who understands the 
evocative power of ritual? Yet clergy and musicians preside over 
these complementary mysteries (and ministries), and while there is 
great mutual respect, there can be an underlying element of insecurity 
and fear, which causes each minister subconsciously or consciously 
to wish to control the other. 

Moores believes that many clergy view their relationships with 
organists as a marriage in which the latter must 'love, honour 
and obey' . A much more healthy view of the relationship is as a 
partnership in which the clergy are senior partners: 

As caring partners, there must be constant, effective communication 
. . . which must be concrete and specific. This requires honesty and 
candour. Each needs to know (not just sense) what the other thinks and 
feels. For, until each knows (not just senses) where the other stands on 
all the substantive issues pertaining to music and liturgy, there will be 
no significant development of a long-range relationship. 


examining this further on page 130. 

The Revd Dr David R. Moores, 'Clergy-Organist Relationships' in The 

American Organist, August 1985, pp. 46-47. 



He then proposes a radical way of improving the relationship: 

Whether or not the clergy compliment you the musician, you can 
compliment them. ... It is true that clergy often develop better 
defences so as to appear self-sufficient, strong and authoritative, but 
they thrive on praise as much as anyone. . . . 

Those who have worked with clergy who are suffering from 
'burnout' know that one of the chief causes of such personal anguish 
is lack of nurturing. Clergy find themselves (or put themselves) in 
roles which make them the primary nurturer in the parish, and very 
few lay people, let alone musicians, do anything substantive to help 
them. Here the musician is in a unique position to do some ministry 
for the minister and, in so doing, both can be blessed. 

The spiritual blessing which can come from affirmation is obvious, 
and so is a very practical blessing. The behaviour of the clergy 
towards a personally affirming musician will doubtlessly be less 
arbitrary and authoritarian. To put it bluntly, you do not fire a 
member of your team who regularly strives to make you feel good. 

In conclusion, Moores points out that much of what he has 
written applies to any relationship, but that in this particular 
instance the stakes are very high: 

It is not too dramatic to say that we deal with eternal verities; our 
concern is the health and vitality of the soul of man. 

Other Matters of Concern 

The shortage of organists was already being described as 
'grave' more than thirty years ago. 1 In an attempt to combat 
it, the Royal School of Church Music, the Royal College of 
Organists, and five other institutions combined to designate 
1990 as 'National Learn-the-Organ Year'. The aims were: to 
encourage at least 500 musicians to take up the organ; to link 
pupils with competent teachers of the organ in their home 
areas; and to initiate the publication of a new British organ 
tutor. The event proved to be an outstanding success. 2 The 

1 Music in Church, Report of the Committee appointed in 1948 by the 
Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Church Information Board, West- 
minster, 1951); revised edition (CIB, Westminster, 1957), p. 79. 

2 Anne Marsden Thomas, 'National Learn-the-Organ Year 1990' in Church 
Music Quarterly, April 1991, pp. 12-13. 



continuing advancement of electronic -keyboard instruments 
may well encourage others in the direction of the organ 

Electronic organs have been at the centre of further 
controversy recently: 

It has, until now, been editorial policy to refuse advertisement of 
electronic organs in Church Music Quarterly. ... As part of its efforts to 
increase the relevance of CMQ to the interests of church musicians, the 
Council thinks that the time is right to reverse a policy which in 1990 
at best seems paternalistic, at worst an unusual form of censorship. 1 

This led to a stern rebuke from one of the traditionalists: 

Pseudo simulators may indeed be improving all the time, but no 
improvement to a plastic flower ever made it a rose. And so, we are 
instructed, no improvement to a lie ever made it true, although much 
research is currently going into this. Those that have ears to hear, let 
them hear; otherwise caveat emptor. 2 

Bramma has cited as 'a frequent cause of severe disagree- 
ment in our churches' 3 the introduction of girls into a 
previously all-male choir. On the one hand, it is unfair to 
exclude them from exercising a musical ministry. On the 
other, at least in urban churches, Bramma observes that 
introducing girls to the choir invariably causes a number of 
the boys (the counter-tenors, tenors and basses of tomorrow) 
to leave. He sees no alternative but to run two complemen- 
tary choirs which sing together at major festivals. 

In 1984 it was decided that St Edmundsbury, the only 
English cathedral to admit girls to the choir, would no longer 
do so. The organist, Harrison Oxley, resigned in protest. 4 

Sir John Margetson, 'Electronic organs' in Church Music Quarterly, October 

1990, p. 3. 

Bruce Buchanan (Director of J.W. Walker & Sons, Organ Makers), an open 

letter to the Director of the RSCM, published as an advertisement in Church 

Music Quarterly, October 1990, p. 2. 

Harry Bramma, 'Clergy and organists . . . fellow workers' in Church Music 

Quarterly, October 1989, p. 11. 

'Cathedral choir to drop girls' in Church Times, 6330 (8 June 1984), p. 8. 



Now, however, further consideration is being given to the use 
of girls in cathedral choirs: 

Richard Shephard, headmaster of the Minster School in York and a 
member of the Archbishops' Commission on Church Music, told the 
annual conference [of the Choir Schools Association] that no one 
knew the sort of noise girls could make, because no girls had ever 
been trained in the same way as boys. He quoted evidence to the 
Commission from the Royal Academy of Music which claimed that 
prejudice against girls' voices was founded on musical ignorance. 1 

Meanwhile Richard Seal, with the approval of the Dean and 
Chapter, proceeded to launch a fund for the introduction of a 
girls' choir at Salisbury Cathedral. 2 This began singing in the 
autumn of 1991. Information on a survey of the use of girls' 
voices in cathedral choirs has recently been published 3 , and 
an experiment of allowing women to sing in them has also 
been proposed. 4 1 know at least three suitable candidates who 
would be delighted to help remedy any shortage of male 
altos! The analogy with women deacons, now increasingly 
ministering in cathedrals, should not be overlooked. 

In recent years two other controversial departures have 
been reported: Barry Rose from St. Paul's in 1984, 5 and 
Simon Preston from Westminster Abbey in 1987. 6 In both 
cases it was reported that differences with the Dean and 
Chapter over musical policy were to blame. A chilling 
comment appeared in Church Music Quarterly: 

If those directly concerned with cathedral music are wise . . . they 
will not grow complacent. . . . There are many clergymen, some of 
them in quite senior positions, who care very little for maintaining 
that 'unique national choral tradition', insofar as it provides a good 

1 Betty Saunders, 'Girl choristers need same training as boys, choir schools 
urged' in Church Times, 6641 (25 May 1990), p. 3. 
'Sweet singing in the choir' in Church Times, 6641 (25 May 1990), p. 7. 
Judith Pearson, 'Equal opportunities?' in Church Music Quarterly, July 
1992, pp. 18-19. 

Jennifer Zarek, 'The Bavin Report' in Church Times, 6744 (15 May 1992), p. 11. 
'Master of St. Paul's choir quits' in Church Times, 6334 (6 July 1984), p. 1. 
'Move from Abbey' in Church of England Newspaper, 4850 (15 May 1987), 
p. 16. 



reason for cathedrals and other foundations to allocate large sums of 
cash to maintain superb choirs. Some of these clergymen, moreover, 
even reject the notion that a fine choir enhances the beauty and 
holiness of cathedral worship in a significantly more impressive way 
than, say, an amateur folk group would do. The five centuries of 
inspiring repertoire, upon which a cathedral choir can draw, is used 
as an argument against, not for, their continuation: a sign that they 
are inextricably linked with the ancient ways of worship which most 
parishes jettisoned with the 1662 Prayer Book. 

So far, this has manifested itself in a few, comparatively minor, 
local disputes: mysterious resignations by cathedral organists; 
rumours of anti-musical pressures from domineering Deans. In 20 
years' time, however, when the present generation of parish priests 
has moved into positions of authority, wholesale changes in 
cathedrals could be underway. 1 

Canterbury Cathedral found itself in the middle of a 
controversy concerning the enthronement of Dr George 
Carey as Archbishop of Canterbury in April 1991. The 
controversy surrounded the Archbishop's choice of music, 
and led to such headlines in the national tabloids as: 'Pray, 
make the go-go gospel go with a swing'. The more sedate 
members of the Church of England were no doubt aghast to 
read over their breakfast: 

Hand-clapping evangelical 'Gospel songs' will be sung to an 
accompaniment of guitars and a saxophone ... in an unprecedented 
break with tradition. . . . The decision has astonished musical 
traditionalists, who argue that it could destroy the solemn atmosphere 
inside the cathedral. 2 

But reassurance was close at hand. 

Evangelical songs and charismatic hand-claps will not prevent 'the 
unique English choral tradition' from shining through at the Arch- 
bishop of Canterbury's enthronement next Friday. Guitars, saxophone 
and the sound of an electronic keyboard will not drown the trumpet 
fanfare of the Royal Marines. The Dean of Canterbury, the Very Revd 


Richard Morrison, 'A pinnacle, not an ivory tower' in Church Music 
Quarterly, July 1989, p. 3. 

Damian Thompson, 'Saxophone and guitars will enthrone Carey' in The 
Daily Telegraph, 42234 (8 April 1991), p. 2. 



John Simpson, gave the assurance this week in answer to criticisms 
of music chosen by Dr Carey. 1 

The Cathedral choir would be singing Parry's / was glad and 
a new setting of the Te Deum by Grayston Ives, while the 
congregational hymns would be to 'well-known melodies 
from the centre of English tradition'. Even the break with 
tradition would not be too drastic: 

'Also taking part, at Dr Carey's personal request, is the All Souls' 
Ensemble under the direction of Noel Tredinnick, which will sing 
three songs at that informal moment in the service when the 
congregation exchange the Peace and the Archbishop greets the 
ecumenical guests.' 

Other Surveys of Church Music 

Three times this century the Archbishops of Canterbury and 
York have asked a group to investigate church music. The 
Reports of the ensuing Committees appeared in 1922 2 and 
1951: that of the Commission (also known as ACCMUS) in 
May 1992. The foreword to the 1951 Report began: 

In 1922 the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed a strong 
Committee 'to consider and report upon the place of music in the 
worship of the Church, and in particular the training of church 
musicians, and the education of the clergy in the knowledge of music 
as a branch of liturgical study'. 3 

Seventy years on from the first Report we read: 

[We recommend that] dioceses and parishes consider the provision of 
local in-service training courses for church musicians . . . [and that] 
theological colleges and courses, as well as those responsible for 
post-ordination training and continuing ministerial training, review 

1 'Choral tradition safe at Canterbury service' in Church Times, 6687 (12 April 
1991), p. 2. 

2 Music in Worship, Report of the Archbishops' Committee appointed in May 
1922, (Central Board of Finance and SPCK, London, 1923), revised edition 
(Press and Publications Board of the Church Assembly, London, 1932). 

3 Music in Church, Report of the Committee appointed in 1948 by the 
Archbishops of Canterbury and York (Church Information Board, West- 
minster, 1951); revised edition (CIB, Westminster, 1957). 



their provision for the training of ordinands and clergy in the art of 
preparing for and conducting public worship, and the use of worship 
within it. 1 

Much of my own research underlines this need, but I 
question whether ACCMUS will be any more effective in 
achieving this objective than its two predecessors. 

The announcement in July 1988 of the creation of the 
Commission gave rise to much comment — in the national as 
well as the church press — with such headlines as 'Church 
faces up to pop music challenge' and even 'Sounding an 
Almighty sour note in the aisles'. In order to stimulate debate 
on the subject, Church Music Quarterly invited a number of 
musicians to suggest points which the Commission ought to 
be considering. 2 They included Peter Aston, who was 
concerned at current standards of church music, especially in 
evangelical churches: 

Why is it so feeble? A case in point is at our own university 
chaplaincy in Norwich. I have been frankly appalled that even my 
music students, who apply normal critical standards and strive for the 
highest possible quality of performance when giving concerts, are 
content to play inferior music badly in their campus services. When I 
question them I am told that 'sincerity is all that matters'. 

Simon Preston's concern was twofold. 

I don't think that the Church has ever addressed itself to professional 
musicians; it has never decided what its attitude to them is. Perhaps 
this is part of a bigger problem, that the clergy cannot come to terms 
with the laity in general, or harness the very real skills that the laity 
possesses. ... I do hope that this Commission will investigate, and 
not simply accept and endorse the changes of the last few years — the 
ASB in particular, of course — which have so affected the work of 

In Tune With Heaven, Report of the Archbishops' Commission on Church 
Music (Church House Publishing, and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 
1992), pp. 257-8. 

Peter Aston et al, 'What should they be talking about?' in Church Music 
Quarterly, October 1988, pp. 4-7. 



John Barnard, one of the music editors of Hymns for Today's 
Church, feared that the Commission might attempt too much. 

On the one hand, I hope that the Commission will feel free to say 
straightforwardly and fearlessly what they think about the current 
state of Anglican music, and to give clear recommendations for the 
future. On the other, I hope they will not lose sight of the fact that 
their deliberations will be pointless unless they lead to a response in 
the churches. That can only come about if they gain the respect and 
confidence of church musicians in general. 

In addition to making 56 recommendations for the future of 
church music (of which the training of clergy and church 
musicians are but two), the 320-page ACCMUS Report 
reviews many aspects of the use of music in worship. These 
include parish churches, cathedrals, religious communities, 
schools, the Church overseas and Churches of other denomi- 
nations, musical instruments and equipment, radio, television, 
etc. and copyright. One of the recommendations is that 'the 
Royal School of Church Music be recognised as the Church of 
England's official body for church music, on the understanding 
that it continue to broaden its approach to church music and 
that it be related in some way to the General Synod' 1 — an 
interesting example of privatisation in reverse. However, the 
overall tone of its findings may be gleaned from the following: 

The outlook for music in the Church of England is an uncertain and, 
in many ways, disturbing one. Although there is much that is positive 
and encouraging, a sad picture emerges of a dwindling supply of 
musicians, a reduced use of other than congregational music, a con- 
siderable lowering of standards, and a lack of both resources and 
expectations. The overall impression gained by the Commission is 
that the Church in general either takes for granted the contribution of 
music to its worship, or places little value on it. 2 

Reviews of the Report in the national press suggested that the 
root cause of the problem lies not so much in church music 

In Tune With Heaven, p. 257. 


In Tune With Heaven, p. 171. 


itself, as in the decline in church attendance 1 although, to be 
fair, the Commission by implication addresses this point: 

Some church musicians, and the clergy and congregations to which 
they belong, may feel that many of the suggestions made in this 
Report are not for them. The Commission's description of a director 
of music may seem laughably idealistic to a parish which can barely 
find a 'reluctant organist' ; some of the resources here described as 
necessary are likely to be dismissed as wholly unrealistic by a church 
with a handful of worshippers struggling to meet its diocesan quota, 
as well as to repair its roof. 

The critical question is just how many churches come into 
this category. My own research suggests that it is a substan- 
tial number — we shall be looking at this on page 120. At first 
reading, Bishop Colin Buchanan 'learned virtually nothing 
about what is [currently being] sung', and could find 'no 
solid discussion' on music groups 2 . Perhaps there will be a 
sequel in Church Music Quarterly in which contributors to 
the earlier article can give their views on the Report. 
Returning to the fears expressed by John Barnard, I hope that 
the Report's title: In Tune With Heaven will not alienate those 
whose church-music preferences do not lie with Parry or 
Milton. 3 The Report also carries a summary of the results of a 
questionnaire survey organised on behalf of ACCMUS. The 
full results are published separately 4 , and we will be 
examining some of them in subsequent chapters. 

Several other surveys on church music have appeared in 
recent years. In 1976 Temperley organised a short question- 
naire in the rural deaneries of Seaford and Selsey in Sussex. 5 

1 Ruth Gledhill, 'Churches dance to a new tune' in The Times, 64328 (9 May 
1992), p. 5; also Tom Sutcliffe, 'From whence the divine inspiration?' in The 
Guardian (14 May 1992), p. 22. 
Colin Buchanan, Editorial in News of Liturgy (Grove, Nottingham, 1992), p. 1. 

3 The front cover shows a page of the score of C.H.H. Parry's Blest Pair of 
Sirens, a setting of At a Solemn Music by John Milton. The page contains the 
words: 'and keep in tune with Heaven'. 

4 Jacqui Cooper, Music in Parish Worship (Central Board of Finance of the 
Church of England, London, [dated] 1990 [but not published until 1992]). 

5 Nicholas Temperley, The Music of the English Parish Church (Cambridge 
University Press, Cambridge, 1979), pp. 353-358. 



This covered such topics as composition and size of the choir, 
types of music sung by the choir and congregation (including 
details of hymnals and the degree of usage of pop music), and 
the instruments and liturgy in use. The deaneries were chosen 
to permit comparison with the results of questionnaires held in 
1853 and 1864 (Seaford), and 1922 (Selsey). 

A twelve-page questionnaire was sent with the April 1982 
copy of Church Music Quarterly to over 5000 correspon- 
dents of churches affiliated to the RSCM. It contained a wide 
range of questions on the church, its choir, the organ, the 
music sung and the numbers of services, music finance, the 
choir trainer and organist, and the perceived role of the 
RSCM. In his report of the project, Hill wrote: 

The results must definitely not be interpreted as representing the 
general state of music in the Church of England; almost certainly the 
choirs taking part in this survey were among the most active in the 
denomination as a whole. While it would be wrong to dismiss the 
music which may (or may not) be happening in unaffiliated Anglican 
churches as negligible, membership of the RSCM represents such an 
advantage to active church choirs, not least in pecuniary terms, that not 
to affiliate would be imprudent. The caveat on the nature of the sample 
must always be borne in mind. Nevertheless the information gathered 
and presented here is, undoubtedly, the best available on Anglican 
parish music simply because it is the only available on a wide scale. 1 

At about this time, Winter was conducting a survey of choral 
liturgical music in the Church of England, with special 
reference to central London. This included a short question- 
naire, sent to clergy, not only in the archdeaconry of London, 
but also, for purposes of comparison, in the deaneries of 
Norwich and York. This sought information on liturgies, 
hymnals, the choir, and the types of musical instruments used. 2 

Administry, the inter-church organisation project, in 1984 
held a questionnaire amongst its membership. 3 Unlike Hill's 

1 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), p. 2. 

2 John Winter, Music in London Churches, 1945-1982 (PhD thesis, University 
of East Anglia, 1 984), pp. 228-230. 

3 A Joyful Noise (Resource Paper 84:7, Administry, St. Albans, 1984) pp. 1-20. 



survey, questions invited an essay-type response, covering 
such areas as hymnals, psalters, song books, choirs, singing 
groups, information on those holding posts of musical 
leadership, and the extent to which they determined music 
policy, and the use of instruments and 'non-congregational' 
music. The churches taking part appeared to be mainly of an 
evangelical or charismatic background. 

A questionnaire to all members of the Music in Worship 
Trust was distributed with the Summer 1986 edition of the 
magazine Music in Worship. The results were presented a year 
later. 1 Apart from seeking members' perceptions of the Trust 
and its magazine, to a considerable extent the same ground 
was covered as in the Administry survey. Although there was 
no question on hymnals, there was one on whether any of the 
musicians regularly attended music-training courses. 

Three surveys of cathedral music have recently been 
published. One by Hill 2 is similar in character to his earlier 
survey of music in parish churches. Questionnaires were sent 
to the organists of all UK Anglican cathedrals (including 
'parish church' cathedrals), and those other establishments 
maintaining a cathedral-like choral tradition, such as some 
Roman Catholic cathedrals, Oxford and Cambridge college 
chapels, and the Royal Peculiars, etc. The second survey is of 
the music sung at services at 79 choral foundations in 
England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland during 1986. Informa- 
tion on the Responses, Morning and Evening Canticles, 
Communion Services and Anthems was compiled from the 
cathedral service lists. 3 The survey of female voices in 
cathedrals has already been noted on page 22. 

Before turning to my own survey, let us first look at the 
overall changes in church music over the last 30 years. 

'Results of Your Completed Questionnaire Forms' in Music in Worship, 39 

(Summer 1987), pp. 4-7. 

Berkeley Hill, The Organisation of Music in Cathedrals in the United 

Kingdom (Cathedral Organists' Association, Addington, 1989). 

John Patton, Survey of Music and Repertoire (Friends of Cathedral Music, 

Chichester, 1990). 


Through All The Changing 
Scenes Of Life 

Recent Developments in Church Music 

There have been many changes in the Church of England 
during the last 30 years — especially when viewed from the 
perspective of the organ console. What are these 'changing 
scenes', what has caused them, and have they brought 
'trouble' or 'joy'? Two separate but related developments 
have together affected parish-church music probably more 
than at any time since the Reformation. 

The first upheaval has been caused by liturgical changes. 
After some 300 years of having a fixed liturgy, in the 1960s 
the Church of England began to experiment. This culminated 
in the publication of The Alternative Service Book 1980. 2 We 
will begin this chapter by examining how these changes have 
affected the music. 

In parallel with the liturgical changes, there has been an 
'explosion' of hymn writing. We will therefore go on to 
review hymns and hymnals. 

N. Tate and N. Brady, [in, for example,] Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised 
(Clowes, Beccles, 1950), No. 290. 

The Alternative Service Book 1980 (Clowes, SPCK, CUP, OUP, Mowbray, 
and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1980). 



Dakers emphasises the importance and universality of 

Hymns are everyone's music in church. They are inevitable and they 
are inescapable. Every so many minutes in almost every act of public 
worship the entire corpus — clergy, choir and congregation alike — 
are brought together in a joint preoccupation, that of singing a hymn. 1 

He might easily have added that hymns are very largely 
interdenominational. Together with the liturgical changes, the 
hymns generated in the explosion have resulted in a rate of 
change in church music without parallel since the 
Reformation. Technology has played its part in this upheaval 
through the media of radio, television, disc (both conven- 
tional and compact), cassette and, indeed, photocopying. In 
the 'crater' of the explosion, many hymnals have appeared. 

The review of hymnals that follows is quite lengthy for 
three reasons: firstly because of their centrality in worship, 
secondly because of the absence of a recent wide-ranging 
review elsewhere, and thirdly (given the title of this book) to 
demonstrate how the seemingly innocuous publication of a 
new hymnal can become a subject of controversy, even 
bitterness. For the sake of completeness, we also look at 
psalters and speculate on the form that congregational 
singing books will take in the future. 

Finally in this chapter we turn our attention to the training 
facilities available to help church musicians weather these 

The Effects of Liturgical Change 

Liturgical change evokes a wide variety of responses. There 
are those who embrace change — any change — with enthusi- 
asm. Worship, they argue, must be expressed in contemporary 
terms such that the Christian message may be understood by 
all — those outside the Church as well as those within it — even 
if the message is sometimes poorly presented aesthetically. 


Lionel Dakers, Choosing and Using Hymns (Mowbray, Oxford, 1985), p. 15. 



Others take a different view. If a form of worship has 'stood 
the test of time', then surely there is little merit in changing it. 

Three times in the last 500 years great liturgical upheavals 
have taken place in Britain: the Reformation, Vatican II, and 
The Alternative Service Book 1980. On each occasion the 
effects have been far reaching, not least on music and 

We can regard the English Reformation as the period from 
Henry VIIFs break with Rome in 1534, through the publica- 
tion of Cranmer's first Book of Common Prayer in 1549, 
subsequent editions of 1552 and 1559, to the final edition in 
1662. It was a time of great turbulence, as battles to the death 
were fought between the Papists and Puritans. 

The few musicians who did manage to retain or secure appointments 
in the Henrician Church found themselves faced with almost 
insuperable difficulties. The Act of Uniformity, which was passed on 
21 January 1549, decreed that 'the Book of Common Prayer and 
none other' was to be used on and after 9 June of that year. This 
meant that in five months all the plainsong and traditional music built 
up over the centuries would be ruthlessly swept away, and masses, 
motets, and all settings of the Latin would become illegal. 1 

It is hard to imagine just how bitter at the time this blow must 
have been. Yet life had to go on and, in the succeeding years 
and centuries, composers responded to the command to 'sing 
a new song to the Lord' 2 . 

In recent years there has been a 'Reformation' in the 
Roman Church. 

The Roman Catholic Church, for long regarded as the most 
unchanging of churches, surprised both itself and the world at large 
by the speed and scale of the changes upon which it embarked in the 
1960s. The manner of these changes, however, was characteristic. 
There was little choice about it; the faithful were told that certain 


Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 
London, 1972), p. 26. 
Psalm 96, v. 1 . 



things were going to happen (the most spectacular and controversial 
of which was the introduction of the vernacular), and they did. 1 

In the twenty years following Vatican II, the Roman Rite 
changed more than it had in the previous fifteen hundred. 

[Before Vatican II] music at 'Sung Mass' (usually one mass per 
parish per week) would consist of a choral mass setting, generally 
tuneful but undistinguished, with a motet or two in the same vein and 
the 'proper' parts sung to a psalm-tone. The full plainchant propers 
were too difficult for the average choir; such music, and elaborate 
polyphony, were rare, and congregational singing even rarer. . . . 
Hymns were not sung; these were reserved for separate Marian and 
Eucharistic 'devotions'. 

Vatican II planted not one but two time bombs in this world. The 
first was the vernacular, which threatened the entire repertoire of 
Latin masses and motets, the second was the call to involve the 
people. The people had not sung at Mass ... for centuries. ... In 
many places the musicians simply found themselves being bypassed 
by enthusiastic clergy who wanted to get on. Some choirs were 
disbanded and others were sacked. 

The task confronting the Roman Church should not be under- 

It was nothing more or less than the making of a new music for a 
whole church's liturgy, something not attempted since the 
Reformation. Music has an enormously important role in the 
religious 'universe' of the average worshipper, which is why it 
provokes such strong feelings. To tamper with it is always risky, but 
to rebuild it is an undertaking which will need much more than the 22 
years that have elapsed since the Council. 

Seen in the context of the previous two events, the 
introduction of The Alternative Service Book 1980 was a very 
low-key affair. No-one was burnt at the stake, the language 
of worship had previously been, and still was, the mother 
tongue, and hymnody remained the most common form of 
musical expression. In any case it was, as its name suggested, 

1 [Fr] Stephen Dean, 'Roman Catholic Music: the Recent Past and the Future' 
in In Spirit and in Truth (ed. Robin Sheldon) (Hodder and Stoughton, 
London, 1989), pp. 31-48. 



only an alternative. That having been said, there must be 
exceedingly few members of the Church of England who 
have never encountered the ASB. Indeed, for very many 
congregations it now provides the only form of liturgical 
worship. How did this come about? 

The first real challenge to the Book of Common Prayer 
emerged in the nineteenth century. In 1927 a revised book 
was agreed by the Church Assembly, but rejected by the 
House of Commons. After minor changes, a second sub- 
mission to Parliament suffered the same fate. Undaunted, the 
bishops took the law into their own hands by publishing the 
book with a disclaimer that it was not authorised for use in 
churches, and then issuing a statement effectively inviting 
clergy to ignore the disclaimer. In this way The Book of 
Common Prayer with the additions and deviations proposed 
in 1928 came into widespread albeit illegal use. 

In 1966 the Prayer Book (Alternative and Other Services) 
Measure was passed by Parliament, enabling the Church to 
determine its own alternative services, each being for 
'optional and experimental use for a period of seven or ten 
years'. The Church of England (Worship and Doctrine) 
Measure of 1974 now enables General Synod to regulate all 
matters relating to worship, provided that the Book of 
Common Prayer remains 'available' and unaltered. However, 
the precise meaning of 'available' and to whom is unclear: a 
survey in 1984 demonstrated that in most Anglican 
theological colleges the BCP was seldom or never used. 1 

The 1928 Prayer Book was, with minor revision, 
republished in 1966 under the title Alternative Services: Series 
1. Meanwhile a Liturgical Commission, appointed in 1955, 
had produced the first set of its own proposals, and Alternative 
Services: Second Series were approved in 1967/8. The 
changes introduced in Series 2 were of much greater interest 
to the theologian or liturgiologist than to the church musician 

1 Dr Roger Homan and Prof, the Revd David Martin, Theological Colleges 
and the Book of Common Prayer: a Survey (Prayer Book Society, London, 
1986), pp. 5-10. 



or congregation. However, two movements of the mid-1960s: 
one for ecumenical co-operation, the other for the use of 
contemporary English in worship, resulted in major overhaul 
of the liturgy for the Series 3 services, introduced between 
1973 and 1979. In turn, these services underwent minor 
revision, and were published in one volume: The Alternative 
Service Book 1980. The modified Series 3 communion service 
was given the title of 'Rite A': 'Rite B', a hybrid of Series 1 
and 2, was included in the same volume. General Synod 
approved the use of the ASB for an initial period of ten years 
and, more recently, for a further ten. I wonder whether the 
ASB will be given a further lease of life beyond the year 2000. 
Another influence on the ASB was the Liturgical Move- 
ment, beginning in the Roman Catholic Church on the 
Continent last century. 

It led to more frequent reception of Holy Communion, [and] a desire 
for more lay participation in worship. . . . Similar stirrings can be 
detected in the Church of England in the early years of the twentieth 
century, but the process really started to get under way . . . with the 
publication in 1935 of Liturgy and Society by A.G. Hebert SSM and 
two years later a collection of essays, The Parish Communion, also 
edited by Hebert. From this was born 'the Parish Communion 
Movement' , which aimed at restoring the Eucharist as the central act 
of worship in a parish on a Sunday morning. 1 

However, the Movement's success has not been without a 
price. In the current shortage of Church of England clergy, it 
is sometimes necessary for a priest to hurry from church to 
church on a Sunday morning, in some cases his time of 
arrival being scheduled to coincide with the prayer of 

The earlier liturgical changes had little impact on the 
Church's music. 2 However, as the eighties dawned and 

1 R.C.D. Jasper and Paul F. Bradshaw, A Companion to the Alternative Service 
Book (SPCK, London, 1986), pp. 22-23. 

2 The only major change was the inclusion of the 'Benedictus qui venif and 
'Agnus DeV in the Communion Service of the 1928 Prayer Book, after their 
exile from the 1552 and 1662 books. However, in practice these items had 
already been in use for some time in the more catholic churches, and indeed 



'Series 3 Communion' became 'Rite A', with increasing 
numbers (especially of clergy) committed to it, composers set 
about the task of writing suitable settings. By 1988 there were 
at least 44 settings either composed for or suitable for Rite A. 1 
The extension of the lifetime of the ASB until at least 2000 is 
likely to encourage further compositions based on this Rite, 
despite certain inherent difficulties with the text. 2 Although 
several settings have been written expressly for Rite B, earlier 
works can be used, more or less without modification. 

Owing to the widespread adoption of Parish (or 'Family') 
Communion, Morning Prayer ('Martins') is little used. It 
would appear (page 148) that not merely in Morning Prayer, 
but in Evening Prayer also, the BCP version is more 
commonly used than that in the ASB. Moreover, the custom 
in parish churches is to sing the canticles to an Anglican 
chant rather than to a fully choral 'setting'. Such settings 
tend only to be sung in cathedrals, where the Offices are 
almost invariably according to the BCP. Composers have 
therefore tended not to write settings for the ASB canticles. 3 

General Note 3 of the ASB reads: 'Prayer Book Texts. 
Where parts of a service are sung to well-known settings, the 
traditional words for which they were composed may be 
used.' However, such use of traditional texts is rare except in 
cathedrals, where even Latin settings in an otherwise Rite A 
service are by no means unknown. 

Although the introduction of the ASB did not affect the 
Church's hymnody, here too changes were afoot, as we will 
now see. 

had already appeared in, for example, Darke's Service in F, published in 

1 The Alternative Service Book 1980 (An annotated list of music published by 
the RSCM and others for: Communion Rite A, Communion Rite B, Canticles, 
etc.) (Royal School of Church Music, Addington, 1988), [pp. 3-7, 11-17]. 

2 Robert Ashfield, 'The Composer and the ASB' in The Friends of Cathedral 
Music Annual Report, 29 (April 1986), p. 28. 

3 One exception is Alan Wilson who, in the Christus Rex series, has written 
settings of all fourteen canticles, in addition to the Norwich Service setting of 
the Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (not to mention, at the last count, four Rite 
A settings). 



Hymnals and Psalters 

In the last thirty years many new hymnals have appeared. Of 
these, four major works have been aimed primarily at the 
Church of England. These are, in chronological order: 
Anglican Hymn Book, Hymns for Today's Church, Hymns 
Ancient and Modern New Standard Edition, and The New 
English Hymnal. We will begin by looking at these and, 
where applicable, their forerunners. 

Having passed its silver jubilee, the Anglican Hymn Book 1 
stands slightly apart from from those that were to appear in 
the 1980s. 

It is many years since a completely new hymn book appeared for use 
in the Church of England. ... In making this collection, we have 
tried to envisage the needs of the whole Church, both now and in the 

Both the title and the reference in the preface to 'the whole 
Church' implied a universality lacking in the then current 
editions of Hymns Ancient and Modern and The English 
Hymnal. However, its evangelical outlook could be seen in, 
for example, the hymn: 'We love the place, O God'. The line 
'We love thine altar, Lord' had become 'We love our Father's 
board'. One innovation, not subsequently adopted by other 
books, was the inclusion in the metrical index of the first two 
lines of each tune. The Anglican Hymn Book was the first to 
publish the now famous paraphrase of the Magnificat by 
Timothy Dudley-Smith: 'Tell out, my soul, the greatness of 
the Lord'. Leaver writes: 

From today's vantage point the new material presented in Anglican 
Hymn Book may look rather small but to have included about forty 
new tunes, twenty or so new texts, together with many alternative 
musical settings was certainly a creditable achievement for the time, 
when the modern growth in hymn writing had hardly begun. 2 

Anglican Hymn Book (Church Book Room Press, London, 1965). 

Robin Leaver A Hymn Book Survey 1962-80 (Booklet No. 71) (Grove, 

Nottingham, 1980), p. 8. 



In 1975 a supplement of 49 additional tunes was added, to be 
followed in the 1978 reprint by a further 29 hymn texts. 
Leaver scornfully refers to these as 'hymnological jerry- 
building.' A further supplement, in the form of a separate 
volume, Anglican Praise 1 , contains a hundred hymns, of 
which roughly seventy are contemporary. The editors 
expressed the hope in the preface that other congregations 
besides those using the Anglican Hymnal would find the 
supplement useful. Cowley 2 has praised the editors for 
selecting from a wide range of authors and composers, and 
'avoiding the trap fallen into by so many of their illustrious 
predecessors — that of including a disproportionate number of 
their own hymns and tunes'. 

'Great hymns of every age in the language of today' : so ran 
the pre-publication advertisements for Hymns for Today's 
Church. 3 In the preface, the consultant editor Michael 
Baughen (who had until recently been Rector of All Souls', 
Langham Place, London) referred to it as 'the first major new 
hymn book of the new era' . This was perhaps less than fair to 
the Anglican Hymn Book, especially since in some respects it 
could be said to be a forerunner of the newer work. The book 
contained some 600 hymns. Of these, about 140 had not 
previously been published, and more than 100 had appeared 
in the supplementary hymnals during the 1970s. The 
remaining hymns were all traditional but, in most cases, with 
revised words. Elsewhere in the preface there was a hint of 
defensiveness (for example, the changes in wording of the 
hymns being referred to as 'invisible mending'). One of the 
book's editors went to the extent of writing a separate 
booklet 4 explaining the reasoning behind the project. 

Much controversy surrounded the official launch of the 
work, which took place during General Synod week at a 

Anglican Praise (OUP, Oxford, 1988). 

Stephen Cowley, 'Anglican Praise' in Christian Music, Autumn 1988, p. 39. 
Hymns for Today's Church (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1982). 
Christopher Idle, Hymns in Today's Language (Booklet No. 81) (Grove, 
Nottingham, 1982). 



service in St Margaret's, Westminster — the church of the 
House of Commons. Such was the ill-feeling that several 
Conservative MPs protested that people 'might think that the 
book had the approval of the Commons'. 1 The concern was 
twofold. Firstly, the book (like the Anglican Hymn Book 
before it) was claiming to be for all Anglicans, but in outlook 
was very evangelical. 2 In the hymn 'We love the place, O 
God', the 'sacred font' had been changed into 'cleansing 
sign' (the altar already having been banished in the Anglican 
Hymnal version). The words editor, Michael S award, replied 
that the aim had been to select hymns that could be sung 
'equally by Baptists and Roman Catholics'. 3 

The more controversial issue was the rewriting of the 
words. This included changing 'thee' and 'thou' to 'you', and 
the removal of archaic endings such as '-est' and '-eth'. 
These are illustrated in the hymn 'Immortal, invisible, God 
only wise'. The verse: 

To all life thou givest — to both great and small; 
In all life thou livest, the true life of all; 
We blossom and flourish as leaves on the tree, 
And wither and perish — but naught changeth thee. 


To all life you give, Lord, to both great and small, 
in all life you live, Lord, the true life of all: 
we blossom and flourish, uncertain and frail, 
we wither and perish, but you never fail. 

It was perhaps inevitable that a book incorporating changes 
of this magnitude would lead to controversy. However, the 
matter which caused a national uproar was the significant 
rewriting of the National Anthem in an attempt to remove 
'emotive language'. 


'New hymnbook compilers give some facts & figures' in Church Times, 

6248 (12 November 1982), p. 24. 

A.B. Robinson, 'Hymns & churchmanship' in Church Times, 6252 (10 

December 1982), p. 12. 

Michael Saward, 'New hymnbook & churchmanship' in Church Times, 6253 

(17 December 1982), p. 12. 



Traditional Revised 

God save our gracious Queen, God save our gracious Queen, 

Long live our noble Queen, God bless and guard our Queen, 

God save the Queen! long live the Queen! 

Send her victorious, Guard us in liberty, 

Happy and glorious, bless us with unity, 

Long to reign over us; save us from tyranny: 

God save the Queen! God save the Queen! 

At a press conference, Michael Baughen pointed out that the 
ordinary form of the National Anthem was printed elsewhere 
in the book. 1 

The polarisation of views concerning the book did not 
seem to diminish with time. One correspondent referred to 
'vandalism . . . done to many well-loved hymns and carols'. 2 
In reply, another wrote: 'At last I can sing hymns in the 
language I speak, which helps me to express what my heart 
wants to say so much better than the antiquated words of 
previous centuries.' 3 A third took a cautious view, suggesting 
that: '[word changing] is good for us, as it focuses our 
attention on the wording in front of us.' 4 However, this was 
tempered with the comment, which some might wish to apply 
also to the ASB: T suppose change is good but, as in the case 
of this hymn book, so much concerning the Church of 
England today appears to be change solely for the sake of 
change, which might be justified if only it was filling our 

The difficulty ... as every hymnologist knows, is that hymns have 
been [in a state of] being rewritten since they began. . . . The Wesleys 
protested (not always successfully) against having their own hymns 
rewritten; but they were ready enough to rewrite the works of lesser 

1 'New hymnbook compilers give some facts & figures' in Church Times, 
6248 (12 November 1982), p. 24. 

2 Peter Heath, 'Misled by modern hymns' in Church of England Newspaper, 
4783 (24 January 1986), p. 10. 

3 Gillian Orpin, 'Grateful for modern hymns' in Church of England 
Newspaper, 4786 (14 February 1986), p. 11. 

4 Hugh Lawson Johnston, 'Word-changing of well-known hymns' in Church 
of England Newspaper, 4785 (7 February 1986), p. 11. 



hymnodists. And few people would now blame them. ... In the end, 
it all depends on who's doing the rewriting. 1 

The following appeared a few weeks after the hymnal's 

Hymns for Today's Church must be the last hymn book to be 
published in our generation. Our generation needs not bound hymn 
books designed to last for ten years but loose-leaf compilations that 
will be able to cope with the torrent of new worship-songs that shows 
no sign of drying up. In twenty or thirty years we shall have a fair 
idea of what is worth keeping. Until then it will be prudent to make 
provisional judgments and to keep our options open. 2 

However, this was not to be, as we shall see shortly. In the 
second edition, published in 1988, there is a new 'Traditional 
words' section. However, other hymns have been re- written 
on the grounds of the perceived need for inclusive (non- 
sexist) language. This has made the two editions 
incompatible, a situation which other publishers have 
normally managed to avoid. In 1988, the Revd. Christopher 
Idle, one of the editors of Hymns for Today's Church, was 
asked if he had changed his mind concerning the 
modernisation of hymns. He admitted: 'Personally I have 
retreated from dogmatic rejection of anything archaic.' 3 

Hymns Ancient and Modern New Standard 4 was published 
in 1983 only a few months after Hymns for Today's Church, 
and contained in contrast no original material at all. How had 
this come about? The story of the first hundred years of 
Hymns Ancient and Modern has been written by Clarke. 5 
Since its birth as a product of the Oxford Movement in 1861, 

1 John Whale, 'It depends who does it' in Church Times, 6622 (12 January 
1990), p. 7. 

John King, 'Grasping the nettle of hymn copyright' in Church Times, 6250 
(26 November 1982), p. 10. 

Christopher Idle, 'Twenty Questions about Anglican Praise'' in Church of 
England Newspaper, 4914 (12 August 1988), p. 6. 

Hymns Ancient and Modern New Standard (Hymns Ancient and Modern 
Ltd., Norwich, 1983). 

W.K. Lowther Clarke, A Hundred Years of Hymns Ancient & Modern 
(William Clowes, London, 1960). 






it has undergone many revisions and supplements. One of 
these, in 1904, was widely criticised, in part because of its 
alteration of words to improve intelligibility 1 (a similar 
exercise to that attempted more recently in Hymns for 
Today's Church). For example, in the second line of Mrs 
Alexander's hymn 'There is a green hill', the word 'without' 
was replaced by 'outside'. Suffice it to say that in all 
subsequent revisions, including that of 1983, 'without' has 
been used. The Standard Edition (itself containing two 
supplements) appeared in 1922. Long commented: 'With 
careful selection . . . even the most discriminating could find 
a wide range of superb hymns in this curiously patchwork 
book.' 2 It is a testimony to this edition (described by Routley 
as 'nothing less than a national institution' 3 ) that new copies 
were on the display shelves of a bookshop in Oxford in 1992, 
70 years after publication. 

In 1950 there appeared a new edition, entitled Hymns 
Ancient and Modern Revised 4 , in which the supplements 
were finally merged into the main volume, but in such a way 
that the most popular hymns were allowed to retain their 
existing numbers. Some hymns were removed either because 
they had never found favour, or because the editors sensed or 
even anticipated changes in congregations' tastes. The 
preface summed up the aspirations of the book: 

[It is hoped that] in this new book the Church will find the same 
endearing and enduring qualities as in the old, the same heartfelt yet 
sober tone, so much in keeping with English-speaking Christianity. 
. . . The book does not aim at breaking fresh ground or exploiting 
novel ideas. 

Long felt that it fully deserved its great popularity. 




Marianne Barton, 'From Ancient to Modern' in Church Music Quarterly, 

April 1990, pp. 16-17. 

Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 

London, 1972), p. 400. 

Eric Routley, The Music of Christian Hymnody (Independent Press, London, 

1957), p. 119. 

Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised (William Clowes, Beccles, 1950). 



100 Hymns for Today 1 was one of the first of many 
supplements to many hymnals. In the Preface, the editors 

Today's Christians need today's songs as well as yesterday's. . . . 
Although this book is a collection of hymns for our own time, it does 
not go so far in the direction of modernity as to include those written 
in an idiom likely to be so shortlived that any book containing them 
will be dated within months of publication. We have tried to steer a 
middle course, therefore, between restatements of the traditional and 
ephemeral or 'pop' productions. 

Examples of 'today's songs' are: 'Living Lord' (Patrick 
Appleford), 'Sing we a song of high revolt' (Fred Kaan), 
'God of concrete, God of steel' (Richard G Jones), and 'No 
use knocking on the window' (Sydney Carter), which 
contains the verse: 

Jesus Christ has gone to heaven; 
One day he'll be coming back, sir. 
In this house he will be welcome, 
But we hope he won't be black, sir. 

By 1978, more than a million copies had been sold, which 
must surely have been a significant factor in the decision to 
publish a sequel. Strangely, 100 Hymns for Today lacked an 
index of first lines, an omission remedied in the sequel. The 
preface to More Hymns for Today 2 set the tone for the work. 

Since [the publication of 100 Hymns for Today] there has been an 
unexpected, fresh and exciting output of English hymns, which that 
supplement may have done something to bring about. . . . Among 
these recent hymns there are those that have about them something of 
the elusive quality which seems to mark them with a more enduring 
character. At least they deserve to be tested for a longer time and 
introduced more widely in the service of the Church. . . . Like its 
predecessor, [this] book seeks to be forward looking without 
abandoning restraint; to be sensitive to the changing needs and 

100 Hymns for Today (Clowes, London, 1969). 

More Hymns for Today (Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd., Norwich, 1980). 



renewed vitality of the Church in a turbulent world, while being 
rooted in the long, living tradition of the people of God. 

Again there is a blend of old and contemporary. For example, 
the hymn 'Sent forth by God's blessing' (Omer Westerndorf, 
b. 1916) is set to the tune 'The Ash Grove'. A hauntingly 
beautiful poem, taken from a work by Canon William 
Vanstone, is set to Song 13 by Orlando Gibbons. However, 
the text has been altered and, in particular, parts of the first 
two verses merged to reduce the total number from seven to 
six. I find this regrettable, especially since there is no 
reference to the alteration. Here are the first three verses in 
their original version. 1 

Morning glory, starlit sky, 
Leaves in springtime, swallows' flight, 
Autumn gales, tremendous seas, 
Sounds and scents of summer night; 

Soaring music, tow'ring words, 
Art's perfection, scholar's truth, 
Joy supreme of human love, 
Memory's treasure, grace of youth; 

Open, Lord, are these, Thy gifts, 
Gifts of love to mind and sense; 
Hidden is love's agony, 
Love's endeavour, love's expense. 

There is also a paraphrase of the Nunc Dimittis by Timothy 

Faithful vigil ended, 

watching, waiting cease; 
Master, grant thy servant 

his discharge in peace. 2 

1 W.H. Vanstone, Love's Endeavour Love's Expense — The Response of Being 
to the Love of God (Darton, Longman and Todd, London, 1977), pp. 119— 
I have never been able to come to terms with 'discharge'. 




In contrast, there is the American folk hymn: 'Were you there 
when they crucified my Lord?'. There is also the hymn by 
the seventeenth-century poet John Mason: 

Now from the altar of our hearts 

let incense flames arise; 
assist us, Lord, to offer up 

our morning sacrifice. 

It is fun to speculate on what the editors of Hymns for 
Today's Church would have made of that one. 

The publication of Hymns Ancient and Modern New 
Standard was a very low-key affair compared with the 
excitement over Hymns for Today's Church a few months 
earlier. 'For it is seemly so to do' came instinctively to the 
mind of the reviewer 1 , when first browsing through the new 
work. In the preface she would have read: 

English liturgies of the 1980s provide prayers using both the 'Thou' 
and the 'You' form in address to God or Christ. It has seemed 
unnecessary to rewrite classical hymns to conform to the 'You' form. 
Experience suggests that congregations make the adjustment to 'Thou' 
without difficulty. The feminist movement has also affected attitudes 
to some hymns. . . . Unlike many other languages, English has only the 
one word 'man' to carry three distinct meanings: (a) the human race as 
a whole, (b) an individual human being, (c) an adult male as opposed 
to a woman or a boy. Some voices of feminine emancipation have 
come to object to the first two meanings, not to the third. But we have 
not thought it right to alter the words of hymns to meet this objection. 

The book was produced by selecting just over half the material 
in Hymns Ancient and Modern Revised and adding all of 100 
Hymns for Today and More Hymns for Today onto the end. 
Many of the earlier hymns were transposed down for the 
benefit of congregations (but not perhaps altos and basses). In 
common with practice elsewhere, minims have been replaced 
by crotchets. There is a list of suitable hymns for the ASB 
Sunday lectionary. Finally, several well-known tunes have been 

1 Margaret Daniel, 'Judicious pruning' in Church Times, 6278 (10 June 1983), 
p. 7. 



added (for example 'Down Ampney' by Vaughan Williams). It 
seems strange that the publishers rushed into print only three 
years after More Hymns for Today, allowing those hymns no 
time for testing before being granted a measure of permanence. 
It is also surprising that every single one of 100 Hymns for 
Today was considered to have passed muster. 

New Standard is available in two forms: Complete, and 
Abridged (that is, without the material from the supplements). 
The two books 100 Hymns for Today and More Hymns for 
Today have now been merged into a single volume: Hymns for 
Today. A further recent addition to the family is Worship Songs 
Ancient and Modern 1 , bridging, in the words of the editors: 'the 
present gap between the classic hymn and the popular chorus'. 

The fourth major publication aimed towards the Church of 
England is The New English Hymnal. 2 The two main hymn 
books of the Church of England, Hymns Ancient and Modern 
and The English Hymnal 3 , have always been regarded as rivals, 
although this came about by accident. Percy Dearmer and the 
other compilers of The English Hymnal originally wished 
merely to produce a supplement to Hymns Ancient and Modern 
for the Anglo-Catholic wing of the Church. 4 However, 
following the controversy over the 1904 edition, they came 
under strong pressure to undertake a completely new book 
which, even then, was not intended as a rival to Ancient and 
Modern. Not surprisingly, the Ancient and Modern proprietors 
felt unable to grant permission to reproduce certain copyright 
items, which caused the musical editor, Vaughan Williams, to 
draw on English folk melodies, thereby endowing the book 
with one of its greatest strengths. 

He drew extensively on three sources practically untapped by 
previous compilers: sixteenth- and seventeenth-century French 
'church melodies', nineteenth-century Welsh Methodist tunes, and 

Worship Songs Ancient and Modern (Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1992). 

The New English Hymnal (Canterbury Press, Norwich, 1986). 

The English Hymnal (OUP and Mowbray, London, 1906). 

Marianne Barton, 'From Ancient to Modern' in Church Music Quarterly, 

April 1990, pp. 16-17. 



English secular folk-songs (or tunes modelled on them). The editor's 
own contributions included his beautiful 'Down Ampney' ('Come 
down, O Love divine') and the sturdy 'Sine Nomine' ('For all the 
saints'), one of the best hymn-tunes of the century. . . . The English 
Hymnal was a marked advance on most previous collections: 
furthermore, because of the excellence of both words and music, the 
more cultured and intellectual type of congregation preferred it to the 
old unreformed Ancient and Modern} 

Memories sometimes die hard, and it is possible that the 
refusal of permission by the proprietors of Ancient and 
Modern in 1905 prevented their successors from being 
allowed in 1950 to use the tunes 'Down Ampney' and 'Sine 
Nomine' in Ancient and Modern Revised. 

The thirties brought no more than minor textual and 
musical changes to The English Hymnal. 2 An unsuccessful 
experiment was the publication of The English Hymnal 
Service Book. 3 Some three hundred hymns taken from The 
English Hymnal were combined with psalms, canticles and 
other liturgical material. Canon Cyril Taylor commented: 
'Whether this book fulfilled any particular need I have never 
been able to discover'. 4 

The preface to English Praise 5 stated: 

It was at first intended to produce a complete revision of The English 
Hymnal . . . but in a period of liturgical change which might well 
result in a radical revision of the calendar, it seemed preferable to be 
content for the time being with a supplement. 

As might be expected, this hymnal contains a considerable 
amount of material that had already seen the light of day in 
either Ancient and Modern Revised or one of its two 
supplements. However, in common with The English Hymnal, 
many of the hymns are for specific times in the Church's year, 

1 Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 

London, 1972), p. 399. 
" The English Hymnal (New Edition) (OUP and Mowbray, London, 1933). 

3 The English Hymnal Service Book (OUP, London, 1962). 

4 Cyril Taylor, 'And still they come' in English Church Music (Royal School 
of Church Music, Addington, 1976), p. 60. 

5 English Praise (OUP, London, 1975). 



for example 'Bitter was the night' (Sydney Carter, Passiontide) 
and 'The angel rolled the stone away' (Negro spiritual, Easter). 
One innovation is the inclusion of a small number of 
responsorial psalms by Dom Gregory Murray. Again, like The 
English Hymnal, the book makes use of English traditional 
material. An example of this is the carol 'The truth from 
above', but the editors seem to have been a little careless in the 
selection of verses. 1 They took the text, without alteration, from 
The Oxford Book of Carols 2 , no doubt trusting the judgment of 
the earlier book's editors, namely Percy Dearmer, Ralph 
Vaughan Williams, and Martin Shaw. Yet close inspection of 
the first three verses suggests that something may be missing: 

This is the truth sent from above, 
The truth of God, the God of love, 
Therefore don't turn me from your door, 
But hearken all both rich and poor. 

The first thing which I do relate 
Is that God did man create; 
The next thing which to you I'll tell — 
Woman was made with man to dwell. 

And we were heirs to endless woes, 
Till God the Lord did interpose; 
And so a promise soon did run 
That he would redeem us by his Son. 

A still earlier version of the text 3 provides the answer: 

. . . with man to dwell. 

Then after this 'twas God's own choice, 
To place them both in paradise, 
There to remain from evil free. 
Except they ate of such a tree. 

The worst example of this that I ever personally encountered was the annual 

omission of verse 3 in 'While shepherds watched' at a certain church's carol 


The Oxford Book of Carols (OUP, Oxford, 1928). 

Ellen M. Leather, 'Carols from Herefordshire' in Journal of the Folk Song 

Society, Vol. iv, No. 14 (June 1910), p. 17. R.V.W. incorporated these extra 

two verses into his Fantasia on Christmas Carols (1912). 



And they did eat, which was a sin, 
And thus their ruin did begin; 
Ruined themselves, both you and me, 
And all of their posterity. 

Thus we were heirs . . . 

Whether these verses were omitted accidentally or deliber- 
ately from the earlier book is unknown. The former seems 
unlikely (especially given the change from 'Thus' to 'And'), 
but the latter seems equally strange, not only because of the 
logical discontinuity. The carol is clearly intended to tell the 
story of Creation, the Fall, and Redemption of mankind. To 
deprive the reader or listener of any one of these is to rewrite 
Christian theology. The editors of English Praise (or The 
Oxford Book of Carols, for that matter) seem scarcely the sort 
of people who would wish to do so. 

Like Hymns for Today's Church, the publication of The 
New English Hymnal was surrounded by controversy. In this 
case, however, it was the review of the book in Church Times 
that proved controversial. 

The publication in 1906 of The English Hymnal is rightly regarded as 
a landmark in English hymnody. . . . The publication this week of The 
New English Hymnal will be in no sense a landmark. It is not very 
new; some four hundred of its five hundred hymns come from the 
earlier book, and three quarters of the remainder have been tried out 
in English Praise. The editors regard most post-war hymnody as 
'poor in quality and ephemeral in expression'. Consequently most 
writers associated with the hymn explosion have scanty representa- 
tion. . . . Timothy Dudley-Smith is the most favoured of con- 
temporary hymn-writers — apart from George Timms, chairman of the 
editorial committee. The musicians of the committee contribute 
considerably to the relatively small number of new tunes. . . . Not 
much [ousted] from the 1906 collection will be missed, but the book 
is still 'stuffed out with second-rate creaking translations of Greek 
and Latin hymns'. . . } 

[Canon] Alan Dunstan, 'Not-so-radical revision' in Church Times, 6415 (24 
January 1986), p. 5. 



Were these criticisms fair? A reporter at the official launch 

Apart from the normal hymns — which Mr Timms said were mostly 
for 'sober and peaceable Anglicans' although some 'popular hymns, 
typical of the catholic tradition' had slipped in — there is at the end of 
the book a sizable liturgical section mostly designed for use with the 
new Alternative Service Book. This section includes special words 
and music for the Church's seasons, feasts and holy days, some 
plainsong sequences, collects for processions and psalms. It also 
includes a new English Folk Mass for Rite A, well suited to 
congregational participation. 1 

A setting of Rite B to Merbecke has also been included. The 
psalms are by Dom Gregory Murray, most already having 
appeared in English Praise. As in Ancient and Modern New 
Standard, several of the hymns have been transposed down. 

In the weeks following publication, there was considerable 
correspondence in the press. 

I was disturbed by Canon Dunstan's damning review. ... A reviewer 
must be free to criticise, but his criticisms must be tempered by an 
attitude which is basically benevolent — especially so in the case of a 
new hymn-book published after many years of hard work. . . . The 
book is a revision, not a new hymnal. ... I consider [it] to be an 
excellent piece of work. The brilliance of the original has been 
conserved; omissions and blemishes have been corrected; new tunes 
have been added. I look forward to using it at Southwark Cathedral. 2 

However, the rejection of 'anything broadly charismatic' was 
regretted by a Director of Ordinands: 

It is true that the erudite . . . can easily point to examples of the naive 
and the simplistic within the Renewal Movement. I do find it worthy 
of comment, though, that ... it is our Sunday evening praise service, 
where these charges could most easily be levelled, to which hundreds 
of (mainly young) people come flocking. In this we are not unique. 

1 Claire Disbrey, 'Revised hymnal for "sober and peaceable Anglicans" ' in 
Church of England Newspaper, 4784 (31 January 1986), p. 16. 

2 Harry Bramma 'The New English Hymnal' in Church Times, 6418 (14 
February 1986), p. 14. 



Like many priests my natural sympathies lie with the preservation of a 
high musical standard in worship, . . . but the charismatic Renewal 
Movement challenges this. The Church of England cannot ignore this. 1 

This seems a valid point, however difficult we may find it, 
but the reply from Archdeacon Timms seemed antagonistic: 

I am uncertain of the precise meaning of the term 'charismatic' as 
used in current Christian parlance and would value enlightenment. 
... In my understanding of the term, any good hymn is charismatic — 
or it is not a good hymn. ... I am told that 'choruses' (whatever they 
are) are a sign of the charismatic. Certainly there are plenty of hymns 
. . . which have a refrain after each verse which could be sung with 
gusto. . . . We have included 'Were you there?' and 'Lord of the 
Dance' and 'Living Lord'. Are they accounted 'broadly charismatic'? 
We did indeed reject that curious American folksong which appears 
in recent hymnals, 'Let us break bread together on our knees' 2 — 
which, to an Anglican at least, would be an extraordinary 
proceeding. 3 

A fuller explanation of the thinking behind The New English 
Hymnal eventually appeared. 4 Another reviewer at its official 
launch felt that 'at times drama and emotional intensity [had] 
been sacrificed to respectability', but that this was 'the best 
book for those who want traditional liturgy'. 5 In lighter vein, 
he wondered what Vaughan Williams would have thought of 
the obliteration of the Dorian mode in 'Greensleeves', and 
drew attention to the misprint in 'All glory, laud and honour', 
and its doctrinal implications: 

Though art the King of Israel, 
Thou David's royal Son . . . 

[Canon] Michael Banks, 'Hymns and renewal' in Church Times, 6417 (2 

February 1986), p. 15. 

For example in Hymns Ancient and Modern New Standard. 

G.B. Timms, 'Charismatic element in The New English Hymnal' in Church 

Times, 6418 (14 February 1986), p. 14. 

George Timms, 'Hymns for Today's Anglicans' in Church Music Quarterly, 

July 1992, pp. 22-23. 

Martyn Cundy, '500 well-loved English hymns' in Church of England 

Newspaper, 4789 (7 March 1986), p. 6. 



Both The New English Hymnal and Hymns Ancient and 
Modern New Standard are now published by the Canterbury 
Press at Norwich. Oxford University Press, publisher of The 
English Hymnal, was approached in the mid-1970s concern- 
ing the production of a new book, but the price quoted was 
felt to be too high. Hymns Ancient and Modern Ltd offered a 
lower price, which was accepted. 1 (The 1933 edition will 
continue to be published by OUP for the foreseeable future.) 

Although I am aware of no long-term plan for the ultimate 
merger of these two old rivals, the original aim of the compilers 
of The English Hymnal was for it to be merely a supplement to 
Hymns Ancient and Modern. Now that they share a common 
publisher, is it possible that this will be the next development, 
or will the two 'markets' be sufficiently diverse to justify 
continuation of two separate publications? Alternatively, a 
'core' book could cover the common ground, with a choice of 
supplements. If, however, the ordination of women to the 
priesthood creates a schism within the Church of England, it is 
possible that those departing will require their own hymn book. 

In addition to the 'mainstream' Anglican hymnals, many 
interdenominational books are in fairly widespread use in the 
Church of England. Virtually all these have been published 
or republished in the last twenty years. 2 We briefly look at 
these, in chronological order of the date of publication (or, 
where applicable, that of the parent volume). 

The Public School Hymn Book was first published in 1903. If 
not strictly Anglican, it nonetheless had a strong Anglican 
flavour. While it obviously was directed towards a very 
specialised group, within that group it was very successful, and 
revised editions appeared in 1919 and 1949. A total revision of 
the book in the early 1960s resulted in a change of name to 

1 Marianne Barton, 'From Ancient to Modern' in Church Music Quarterly, 
April 1990, pp. 16-17. 

2 Also, each of the other major denominations has its own hymnal and, of 
these, several have produced a supplement and/or new edition in recent years 
or are in the process of planning one. These books, however, in general fall 
outside the scope of the present work (although in a few instances they are 
used by Anglicans, for example in ecumenical churches). 



Hymns for Church and School. 1 Long describes the book as 
excellent, 'representative of all periods and particularly rich in 
twentieth-century hymns and tunes'. 2 Its supplement Praise 
and Thanksgiving 3 contains hymns written in the twenty years 
since the previous book, as well as some older ones. Its 
preface states that the aim was to 'combine high artistic 
standards with singability so that hymns may be sung and 
enjoyed, and remembered with pleasure and profit'. Its launch 
by the Headmasters' Conference at Radley College prompted 
a vicar's wife to question the need for such a hymn book: 

It is continuing the divisiveness that public schools are at such pains 
to end — or are they? It was Jilly Cooper who said that the upper 
classes went to church to have a 'jolly good sing', and I suspect that 
this is what this new book is all about. . . . This should be a time for 
uniting people with one or two good hymnbooks sung by all 
congregations; and I am sorry that public schools in particular should 
issue their 'own' book. 4 

Songs of Praise 5 was conceived as a hymnal national rather 
than denominational in character. For almost half a century it 
was widely used in schools. As can be seen from the preface, 
the book was a reaction against Victoriana: 

Our churches, both Anglican and Free Church, have alienated during 
the last half-century much of the strongest character and intelligence 
of the Nation by the use of weak verse and music. 

Inevitably such reactions can be taken to excess, and Long 6 
described the book as being 'aggressively typical of the 
1920s'. Although still in print, it is little used nowadays. 

1 Hymns for Church and School (Headmasters' Conference, Henley-on- 
Thames, 1964). 

2 Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 
London, 1972), p. 401. 

3 Praise and Thanksgiving (Headmasters' Conference, Henley-on-Thames, 

4 Mary-June Scott, 'Divisive new hymnbook' in Church Times, 6381 (31 May 
1985) p. 13. 

5 (a) Songs of Praise (OUP, London, 1925); (b) Songs of Praise (Enlarged 
Edition) (OUP, London, 1931). 

6 Long, p. 401. 



In the 1960s the BBC launched a programme called 'Songs 
of Praise', a television version of its long-established radio 
'Sunday Half Hour' of congregational hymn-singing. To 
celebrate the 21st anniversary of 'Songs of Praise' a hymn- 
writing competition was organised. From 500 entries, fifteen 
were chosen and published under the title New Songs of 
Praise P. 

The BBC Hymn Book 2 was compiled so that listeners to 
such programmes as 'The Daily Service' might follow the 
words. As might be expected, in due course a supplementary 
volume, Broadcast Praise, appeared. 3 Neither book has ever 
been widely used in churches. The BBC also publishes 
school hymnals: two million copies of Come and Praise l 4 , 
were sold in its first ten years. Come and Praise 2, 5 'the first 
anthology to reflect the "broadly Christian" emphasis of 
worship outlined in the 1988 Education Reform Act' 6 , was 
then published. The event provided the background for a 
situation which, though trivial in itself, illustrates the deep 
feelings which any controversy in church music can so easily 
cause. A letter appeared in Church Times 1 deploring the 
inclusion of the following hymn in the book: 

You can weigh an elephant's auntie, 
You can weigh a pedigree flea, 
But you can't weigh up all the love, 
That Jesus has for me, me, me, 
That Jesus has for me. 

New Songs of Praise 1 (OUP, Oxford, 1986). Volumes 2-6 have more 

recently been published. 

BBC Hymn Book (OUP, London, 1951). 

Broadcast Praise (OUP, Oxford, 1981). 

Come and Praise 1 (BBC, London, 1978). 

Come and Praise 2 (BBC, London, 1989). 

'BBC school hymnbook already a sell-out' in Church Times, 6569 (6 January 

1989), p. 2. 

John Ewington, 'Rubbish in Song' in Church Times, 6570 (13 January 

1989), p. 14. 



Next week there appeared an official denial 1 from the book's 
editor that the hymn was in Come and Praise 2 at all. The 
following week the author explained 2 that the hymn had 
begun its life in a primary school assembly, and that it had 
indeed been published, but in New Songs of Praise 4. 3 A 
week later, the following news item appeared: 

That elephant's auntie certainly caught the imagination of our 
readers. . . . Nothing — apart from the ordination of women priests — 
has brought so many letters in recent years. The regrettable thing is 
that . . . because the hymn is not in the new BBC hymnbook for 
schools, [the letters] never saw the light of day. . . . Although there 
were those who thought [the] hymn was 'rubbish' and a blot on the 
escutcheon of church music, there were plenty more who got the 
message — that you can't weigh up all the love that Jesus has for me. 4 

Youth Praise P can be seen as the forerunner of the new, 
less formal type of Christian music. Its editor, Michael 
Baughen, later went on to be consultant editor of Hymns for 
Today's Church, and subsequently Bishop of Chester. In the 
preface he wrote: 'This book has been compiled to try to 
meet the evident need for a composite youth music book in 
Christian youth groups of many kinds.' Many of the 150 
items had been published elsewhere, notably in Church 
Special Service Mission chorus books, although some were 
new. The book proved to be extremely popular, with the 
result that within three years a sequel had been published, 
this time containing virtually all new material. 6 Leaver has 
commented on attempts to transfer music of this type into the 
worship of the local church. 

1 Geoff Marshall, 'Hymn not in new book' in Church Times, (20 January 
1989), p. 12. 

2 C.J. Brown, 'Hymn defended by author' in Church Times, 6572 (27 January 
1989), p. 12. 

3 New Songs of Praise 4 (OUP, Oxford, 1988). 

4 'Elephantine' in Church Times, 6573 (3 February 1989), p. 10. 

5 Youth Praise 1 (Falcon, London, 1966). 

6 Youth Praise 2 (Falcon, London, 1969). 



Here they do not work well because their piano and guitar-orientated 
music for the smaller group cannot carry the weight of the larger 
congregation. . . . Many of these simple hymns and choruses have 
worn very thin by constant repetition over the years. Nevertheless it 
was a timely production and met a need that was being expressed. 1 

The preface to Sound of Living Waters 2 proudly pro- 
claimed: '[This] is not a collection of songs by "experts'". It 
shares with its sequel Fresh Sounds 3 some 240 hymns and 
worship songs, both traditional and contemporary. 

The music has a simplicity, a gentleness, and a lack of the jingliness 
associated with CSSM choruses, or the slightly martial air of many of 
the Youth Praise and Psalm Praise compositions. 4 

The Celebration Hymnal 5 is distinctly Roman in outlook, 
and as such cannot be regarded as interdenominational in the 
normal sense of the word. Precisely because of its outlook, 
however, it is used in some Anglo-Catholic churches. The 
word 'thorough' must be applied to this work since, with its 
two volumes plus its 1989 supplement, there are well over 
800 items. This effusiveness has resulted in the print being 
somewhat too small for comfort, certainly in the full- 
harmony edition. In addition to the hymns, there are some 
rounds and responsorial material. One of these is 'The Lord 
has done marvels for me', Gelineau's version of the Magni- 
ficat. A line such as: 

He looks on his servant in her nothingness 

is perhaps fair game for misinterpretation in the junior choir 
stalls (the words editor of Hymns for Today 's Church admits 
that he has a list of such 'gems of hymnody' 6 ). Surely the 

1 Robin Leaver, A Hymn Book Survey 1962-80 (Booklet No. 71) (Grove, 

Nottingham, 1980), p. 16. 
1 Sound of Living Waters (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1974). 

3 Fresh Sounds (Hodder and Stoughton, London, 1976). 

4 Colin Buchanan, Encountering Charismatic Worship (Booklet No. 51) 
(Grove, Nottingham, 1977), p. 18. 

5 Celebration Hymnal (Mayhew-McCrimmon, Great Wakering, 1976). 

6 Michael Saward, 'New hymnbook and churchmanship' in Church Times, 



editor of Celebration Hymnal could have done something 
about it: 'lowliness' is after all a tried and tested substitute. 

Two thirds of the contents of the original edition of Hymns 
Old and New 1 were taken from Celebration Hymnal. How- 
ever, in due course Hymns Old and New (Anglican Edition) 2 
appeared, the selection of hymns being based on computer 
analysis of requests from over 300 parishes. A reviewer 3 
commented that the computer must have been very user- 
friendly to the compilers, for it had selected no fewer than 32 
of their own compositions. The book makes no attempt to 
modernise or feminise the words — were the parishes invited 
to give their views on this? The reviewer concluded: 

Indisputably, but not aggressively, Anglican, the book is worth 
serious consideration. It undoubtedly goes a long way towards 
achieving its aim, to be a unifying hymn-book meeting the needs and 
tastes of young and old. 

With One Voice 4 had already been published two years earlier 
in Australia as The Australian Hymn Book, an ecumenical 
project with the official backing of five denominations there. 
After quoting Erik Routley, who described the book as 'just 
about the most encouraging thing I have seen in the past 
generation', Leaver writes: 

It may not be trendy . . . but it is certainly not stuffy. ... I am certain 
that With One Voice is among the best standard hymn books available 
to churches today 5 

Sing Alleluia: More Hymns to Sing With One Voice 6 is a 
supplement of 95 psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. 
Although the music comes from many lands, and hence is in 

6253 (17 December 1982), p. 12. 
1 Hymns Old and New (Mayhew, Leigh-on-Sea, 1979). 
1 Hymns Old and New (Anglican Edition) (Mayhew, Bury St Edmunds, 1986). 

3 Martyn Cundy, 'Much requested hymns' in Church of England Newspaper, 
4805 (27 June 1986), p. 7. 

4 With One Voice (Collins, London, 1979). 

5 Robin Leaver, A Hymn Book Survey 1962-80 (Booklet No. 71) (Grove, 
Nottingham, 1980) p. 10. 

6 Sing Alleluia: More Hymns to Sing With One Voice (Collins, London, 1987). 



many styles, Watson 1 has pointed out that the words represent 
a rather narrow band of Christian experience, in nearly all 
cases praise and joy of salvation. However, he suggests that 
the book be examined by all those looking for opportunities 
to use 'modern hymn' singing to enrich public worship. 

In 1980 an innovative project was launched. Sing Praise 2 
was described as 'the revolutionary new hymn book which 
allows you to choose exactly what you want in it; and you 
can add to it at any time!' Hymns were purchased on a 
modular basis on individual pages from a menu of over 1,000 
items, and then clipped into special binders. All aspects of 
copyright royalties were handled by the publishers. It was a 
bold experiment for which, however, the demand was 
insufficient to make it viable, and the project was eventually 
abandoned in 1989. Possibly the idea was ahead of its time: 
we will be looking at copyright on page 63. 

Songs of Fellowship Book P was a compilation of more 
than 150 recently written worship songs, most of them 
British. This was followed by Books 2 and 3, both with 
something more of an international flavour. Next was Hymns 
of Fellowship 4 , a fairly conventional hymnal but, like the 
Songs, including guitar chords. A combined volume of the 
four earlier publications, some 650 pieces in all, was 
produced in 1987. 5 This was followed by Songs of Fellow- 
ship Book 4? containing some 200 further new songs. In 
1991 a volume entitled merely Songs of Fellowship 1 was 
published. This contains a selection of items drawn from 
earlier editions. 8 The publishers, Kingsway, 'aim to embrace 
all the worship needs of a growing church'. 9 These include 

1 Derek Watson, 'Hymns' in Music in Worship, 41 (Winter 1988), p. 12. 

2 Sing Praise (Kevin Mayhew, Leigh-on-Sea, 1980). 
Songs of Fellowship Book 1 (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1981). 
Hymns of Fellowship (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1985). 
Songs and Hymns of Fellowship (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1987). 
Songs of Fellowship Book 4 (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1989). 
Songs of Fellowship (Kingsway, Eastbourne, 1991). 

I note, without comment, that the song 'Ain't Jesus Good' has been omitted. 
Geoff Shearn, 'Songs of Fellowship — Much More Than a Songbook' in 
Music in Worship, 36 (July 1986), p. 8. 



orchestral arrangements and recordings of the songs, 
recordings of backing tracks for use by a singer when no 
suitable accompaniment is available, teaching aids for 
worship, teaching aids for guitarists, and weekend seminars. 
In addition, there is an annual publication New Songs, 
containing some forty even newer items. 

In their introduction to Jesus Praise, 1 the editors seemed to 
feel that they should justify the book's existence: 

Revival in the Church has invariably gone hand in hand with musical 
expression. Hymns, songs, and the shorter, simpler chorus have been 
pouring out over the past decade. Dozens of song books have been 
produced all over the world. Why then another? . . . The aim of Jesus 
Praise has been to gather in one book a wide selection of those songs 
and choruses that have proved their worth over the past years. As 
well as this, a third of the book contains new and unpublished 

The editors continued by saying that the book was intended 
as a replacement for the Youth Praise books, but with appeal 
for adults as well. However, it does not seem to have gained 
widespread acceptance in worship in the Church of England. 
In 1984 the American evangelist Luis Palau visited 
England to hold a number of large-scale evangelistic 
meetings under the general title of 'Mission England'. It was 
felt that no one hymnbook then available seemed entirely 
suitable for the Mission, and the compilation Mission Praise 2 
(also published as Mission England Praise during the 
Mission) was born. The book contained an interesting 
mixture of almost 300 items, hymns old and new together 
with some revival songs. Margaret Daniel commented that 
the book was clearly 'not [intending] to break new ground, 
but to create new enthusiasm'. 3 Archaisms abound. Perhaps 
significantly the green hill far away is without a city wall; 4 

Jesus Praise (Scripture Union, London, 1982). 

Mission Praise (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, Basingstoke, 1983). 

Margaret Daniel, 'Review of Mission England Praise' in Church Times, 

6309 (13 January 1984), p. 6. 

See page 42. 



while 'Now thank we all our God' uses the traditional tune 
'Nun danket' rather than the Beaumont offering of the early 
sixties. Mission Praise II was published in 1987, while 
Mission Praise (Combined Edition) 1 contains both the above 
books and a supplement, 800 items in all. There is also 
Junior Praise 2 , containing 300 songs for children aged 7-11. 

The first fruits of a further project, encouraging contem- 
porary hymn writers to write on a specific theme, appeared in 
1989, entitled Hymns and Congregational Songs. 3 A special 
feature of the project is that photocopying of the material is 
permitted on a limited basis. 

This review of some forty currently available hymnals used 
in Church of England worship has not been exhaustive. 
Tremors of the hymn 'explosion' are still being felt, leaving a 
'crater' of hymnals in its wake, inevitably with much 
duplication of hymns between books. Many new worship 
songs continue to appear, mainly from the Charismatic 
Movement, but it is likely to be some time before there is 
another major compilation of material suitable for general 
Church of England use. 

One aim of my survey was to obtain information on the 
levels of usage of and satisfaction with hymnals. We will be 
looking at the results of this on page 154. 

Next, however, we turn our attention to another type of 
church-music book, namely the psalter. The Psalms pre-date 
even the Christian Church by several centuries. In the pre- 
Reformation Church, and in particular the monastic founda- 
tions, the entire psalter was covered each week through its 
recitation at the seven or eight daily offices. The Prayer Book 
of 1549 reduced this to a monthly cycle in the two daily 
offices of morning and evening prayer. The greatest change 
in psalm singing in recent years has been its further 

Mission Praise (Combined Edition) (Marshall Pickering, London, 1990). 
Junior Praise (Marshall, Morgan and Scott, Basingstoke, 1986). 
Hymns and Congregational Songs Vol. 1 No. 1 (Stainer and Bell, London, 
1989). Copies are bought direct from the publisher by subscription. Volumes 
2 and 3 have now been published. 



reduction, almost to the point of abandonment. This has been 
caused, at least in part, by the reduced usage of morning 
and evening prayer, and the widespread substitution of 
eucharistic services. In Rites A and B of the ASB, it is merely 
specified as an option. The principal of a theological college 
has gone so far as to say that he believes that the Psalms are 
dying in the Church of England. 1 

The Parish Psalter, 2 edited by Sir Sidney Nicholson, is still 
quite widely used some sixty years after its publication. It is 
relatively straightforward to use, but can be very effective in 
the hands of a competent choir. The Oxford 3 and Wore ester A 
Psalters are somewhat similar to the Parish, as they adopt 
natural speech rhythms. However, they use rather more 
symbols in their pointing, making them more difficult to use. 
In less favour are the Cathedral 5 and New Cathedral. 6 Long 
describes them respectively as embodying 'the very antithesis 
of all the principles of good chanting', and 'even worse'. 7 

The Revised Psalter* was the work of an Archbishops' 
Commission, initiated in 1958, to revise the text of the 
psalter, the first such revision since the Reformation. Indeed 
the BCP version of the psalm texts is essentially that con- 
tained in the Coverdale Great Bible of 1539, revised in 1540. 

Although much loved by subsequent generations of Anglicans for its 
beauty, the Prayer Book Psalter is in effect an English translation of a 
Latin translation of a Greek translation of the original Hebrew, and 
consequently not the most accurate rendering of the Psalms. 9 

John Goldingay, 'A store of praise and prayer to reopen' in Church Times, 

6650 (27 July 1990), p. 8. 

The Parish Psalter (Faith Press, Leighton Buzzard, 1928). 

The Oxford Psalter (OUP, Oxford, 1929). 

The Worcester Psalter (Adam and Charles Black, London, 1950). 

The Cathedral Psalter (Novello, London, 1875). 

The New Cathedral Psalter (Novello, London, 1909). 

Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 

London, 1972), pp. 236, 397. 

The Revised Psalter (CUP, Eyre and Spottiswoode, OUP and SPCK, 

London, 1966). 

R.C.D. Jasper and Paul F. Bradshaw, A Companion to the Alternative Service 

Book (SPCK, London, 1986), pp. 449-450. 



Dakers has described The Revised Psalter as 'a flowing text 
admirably and simply pointed'. 1 A further and rather more 
substantial revision appeared only a few years later in the 
ASB. These texts and their pointing were also published 
separately. 2 It will be interesting to see whether the ASB 
translations will last for 450 years, or whether cathedrals will 
after that time still be using the BCP versions. A Manual of 
Plainsong 3 caters for those adopting this alternative method 
of chanting the psalms, although this practice is rare in parish 
churches. BCP texts are used. I wonder whether ASB texts 
have ever been sung to plainsong. 

Recent years have seen the development of other methods 
of singing the psalms. Psalm Praise 4 was the third volume in 
a series which had produced Youth Praise 1 and 2. It 
included pointed and metrical versions of the canticles, but 
its chief innovation lay in metrical versions of psalms and 
other biblical passages. 

Many of the new texts are of a very high quality . . . but the music, with 
some exceptions is all very much in the same rather superficial style. 5 

A list of alternative tunes was eventually compiled. 6 Another 
method of singing psalms, originally popularised by the 
Belgian Jesuit priest Joseph Gelineau, has also been 
increasingly adopted. It is called the responsorial method, in 
which a refrain (called an 'antiphon') is sung by the congre- 
gation after every two or three verses sung by the choir or 
cantor. The texts are often taken from the Roman Catholic 
Grail Psalter. 7 A selection of responsorial psalms has also 

1 Lionel Dakers, Church Music at the Crossroads (Marshall, Morgan and 
Scott, London, 1970), p. 21. 

2 David L. Frost, John A. Emerton and Andrew A. Macintosh, The Psalms: A 
New Translation for Worship (Collins, London, 1977). 

3 H.B. Briggs and W.H. Frere, A Manual of Plainsong (Novello, London, 
1902); 2nd edn, ed. J.H. Arnold (Novello, London, 1951). 

4 Psalm Praise (Falcon, London, 1973). 

5 Robin Leaver, A Hymn Book Survey 1962-80 (Booklet No. 71) (Grove, 
Nottingham, 1980), p. 17. 

6 Michael Perry, Psalm Praise Worship Index (Falcon, London, 1977). 
Publications include: The Responsorial Psalter, volumes A-C (Mayhew- 
McCrimmon, Great Wakering, 1987-1989); Psalms for Singing (Mayhew, 



been included in The New English Hymnal. 

Those who are slightly more adventurous, at least in spirit, 
may well wish to consider the approach adopted at Taize. 1 
Some forty years ago Brother Roger founded the Community 
of Taize in the hills of Burgundy, where it now provides a 
ecumenical retreat from the pressures of the world. The 
music adviser to the Diocese of Bath and Wells writes: 

The Taize phenomenon is one that embodies a sense of simplicity and 
authenticity in worship, together with flexibility and freedom of 
prayer and music. Add to this the international flavour of the thou- 
sands of people who flock there each year, and you will have some 
idea of its universal appeal. 

The ever increasing range of Taize music is becoming more and 
more well known as songs are brought back by those who go there, 
and as the Brothers themselves visit the poor and deprived in all parts 
of the world. . . . Whether used in small or large groups, the music of 
Taize is compelling and haunting. Some of the more contemplative 
refrains [antiphons] can be used in smaller churches during 
Communion services, like 'O Lord hear my prayer' [Psalm 102]. 2 

Methods of psalm singing are discussed more fully elsewhere. 3 

Books of the Future 

The duplication of hymns and settings of psalms between 
different books is clearly wasteful both in paper and expense, 
but seems unavoidable for the foreseeable future. At many 
churches where congregational music is drawn from a number 
of different books, loose-leaf compilations have been 
produced. However, the question of copyright on even one 
hymn can be far from straightforward, and when multiplied 
several times over becomes a formidable task. Regrettably but 
not altogether surprisingly, many churches have succumbed to 

Bury St Edmunds, 1989); and Psalms for the Eucharist volumes 1-3 

(Mayhew-McCrimmon, Great Wakering, 1984). 

For example, Psalms from Taize (Mowbray, London, 1983). 

John Newman, 'The Music of Taize' in Christian Music, Autumn 1989, 

pp. 10-11. 

Robin Leaver, David Mann and David Parkes, Ways of Singing the Psalms 

(Collins, London, 1985). 



the temptation to ignore the copyright laws altogether. A 
central clearing-house on hymn copyright has for some time 
been advocated. 1 In a sense this was precisely what the Sing 
Praise project was trying to achieve. Possibly its ultimate 
downfall lay in the fact that potential subscribers were seeking 
a larger selection of hymns than those for which the 
proprietors could readily obtain copyright permission. A 
leaflet explaining, amongst other things, the legalities of 
making local hymnbooks has been published by the Pratt 
Green Trust. 2 The Trust offers assistance in tracing copyright 
holders, but is not in any way the clearing house that is so 
badly needed. However, the Christian Music Association 
(formerly the Christian Music Publishers' Association) has 
been operating such a scheme. 3 In 1991 responsibililty for the 
scheme was transferred to Christian Copyright Licensing UK 
Ltd. It is understood that more than 400 publishers are now 
participating in the scheme. 

In addition to the trend from bound hymnbooks to loose- 
leaf compilations, made easy (technically at least) by 
photocopying, technology has been opening other horizons. 
Overhead projectors can in principle dispense with paper 
books altogether: slides of Songs of Fellowship words are 
available from the publishers. Indeed the words can now 
even be loaded into a church's microcomputer, for display to 
the congregation. 4 

It seems unimaginable that the conventionally printed 
hymnal will ever be supplanted. However, technology is 
developing very quickly indeed, and I would not care to 
predict the medium in which the next edition of Hymns 
Ancient and Modern will appear. 

John King, 'Grasping the nettle of hymn copyright' in Church Times, 6250 

(26 November 1982), p. 10. 

Copyright and the Local Church (Pratt Green Trust, London, 1989). A new 

edition is shortly to be published. 

'New copyright scheme' in Church Times, 6390 (2 August 1985), p. 2. 

Bob Cranham, 'The Writing on the Wall? — Songs of Fellowship OHP 

System' in Christian Music, Winter 1991, pp. 8-9. 



Courses and Qualifications 

Finally in this chapter, we investigate training courses in 
church music. Whilst the priest is responsible for the service 
as a whole and, in particular, the spoken parts, the musical 
director must bear a major part of the responsibility for the 
musical element within it. He or she can therefore be termed 
one of the ministers. What skills are needed for this ministry, 
and what facilities are available for acquiring them? In the 
last ten years or so, there have been great changes in the 
courses and qualifications available. Many institutions, of 
which the best known is the Royal School of Church Music, 
have involved themselves in this work. Let us first look at the 
historical background. 

In the nineteenth century, cathedral organists accepted 
pupils, to whom they taught their trade in return for acting as 
deputies. With the expansion of the universities and music 
colleges, notably the Royal College of Organists, these 
apprenticeships gradually became less common. During the 
present century, the qualifications ARCO and FRCO, and 
their related choir-master's diploma CHM, have become ever 
more technically demanding. However, although much of the 
music in these examinations was composed for sacred use, it 
has always been studied primarily from a secular viewpoint, 
without reference to its liturgical context. In this aspect at 
least, such pupils would be at a disadvantage compared with 
their nineteenth-century counterparts. If this was all the 
training that was available to the professionals during the 
first part of this century, certainly the amateur musicians in 
the parishes could not reasonably hope for anything better. 

Since 1929 the Royal School of Church Music (or, as it 
then was, the School of English Church Music) has been 
actively involved in the training of church musicians. Apart 
from occasional visits of a Commissioner to affiliated choirs, 
until 1974 this training was primarily aimed at a professional 
level, with courses of up to a year's duration. Most students 
prepared for the diplomas of the Royal College of Organists 



but, in the words of the Prospectus, they were also given 'the 
opportunity to study the art of public worship, with particular 
reference to the part played in it by music'. 

Since 1974 the RSCM's work has been much more 
directed towards the amateur, through its many diverse short 
residential and one-day courses at Addington Palace in 
Croydon, and 'on site' through the expertise of its travelling 
Commissioners. 1 

One of the RSCM's responsibilities is the administration of 
the Archbishop of Canterbury's Diploma in Church Music. 

The Anglican church felt that skill in organ-playing and choir- 
training, though essential, did not go far enough and that church 
musicians needed further training in such specialised studies as 
liturgiology, Prayer Book history, plainsong, Anglican chanting and 
pointing, hymnody, and similar specialist fields. Such training would 
help bridge the gap between clergy and their organists. To meet this 
need Archbishop Lang instituted in 1937 a new examination, the 
Archbishop of Canterbury's Diploma in Church Music (ADCM), 
which involves a wide course of study embracing subjects unheard of 
by the old articled pupils [of cathedral organists] — or their masters. 
Just as entry for the choir-training diploma is restricted to holders of 
one of the RCO organ diplomas, so for the ADCM examination only 
those are eligible who hold both the FRCO and CHM diplomas. 2 

The limitations of the ADCM are threefold. Firstly, the 
number of successful candidates (one or two per year) is too 
small for the qualification to be widely known. Secondly, and 
this may be the cause of the first, there is at present no 
specific course of training for the qualification. Finally, both 
in name and content it is based on the Anglican Church. The 
RSCM also awards three types of honorary diploma 
(associateship, honorary membership, and fellowship) and is 
considering the introduction of some new examination, either 
on its own or in collaboration with some other institution. 

Bryan Anderson, 'Seven whole days, not one in seven' in Church Music 
Quarterly, January 1992, pp. 18-19. 

Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 
London, 1972), p. 393. 



In 1991 the Christian Musicians' and Artists' Trust took 
over half of the responsibilities of the former Christian Music 
Association. 1 The Trust is seeking through its Personal 
Membership scheme: 

... to provide an infrastructure that will facilitate the linking of all 
Christians who have a specific interest in worship, Christian music 
and related arts . . . [including] musicians, singers, dancers, worship 
leaders, church leaders, songwriters, organisers of music events, 
technicians and publishers. 

The newest of the bodies involved with courses and 
qualifications is CHIME (the Churches' Initiative in Music 

CHIME began when a working party, called together (by the RSCM) 
to investigate the potential for qualifications in church music, heard 
. . . about the philosophy behind the recent revision of the 
[Archbishops' Certificate in Church Music — page 69]. This, together 
with news of similar revisions of examination syllabuses etc, by the 
Royal College of Organists and others, coincided with a presentation 
from [Prof.] Bob Reeve, of Anglia Polytechnic, on the opportunities 
within the Credit Accumulation and Transfer systems now being 
introduced throughout Europe. He concluded his talk with a 
suggestion that the various church music organisations should meet 
to investigate the possibilities of co-ordinating and evaluating the 
training and qualifications currently available. We decided to expand 
our working party so as to take in as many shades of opinion and 
churchmanship as possible. . . . 

CHIME should be careful to gain academic and ecclesiastical 
support and credibility: if CHIME is to be a useful forum, perhaps 
even a co-ordinating and commissioning body, then its every 
movement will need to be in tune with the local and national church's 
needs. Having met and talked with those involved so far, I am happy 
to report some fascinating glimpses of potential harmony. . . . 2 

In 1981 the City of Liverpool College of Higher Education 
introduced a Music and Worship course leading to a BA 
honours degree of the University of Lancaster, the first such 

1 The other responsibilities were transferred to Christian Copyright Licensing 
Ltd. (page 64). 

2 Geoff Twigg, 'CHIME' in Laudate, 17 (Spring 1991), pp. 4-6. 



course in Britain leading to a degree. Teaching was shared 
between the Departments of Music and Religious Studies, 
drawing also on the resources of both the Anglican and 
Metropolitan cathedrals, and many other Mersey side 
churches. The course was widely publicised to attract the 
target student intake of 24 although, in 1981, only nine 
students began. The following year's intake was down to 
four, caused by absence of publicity, the sudden death of the 
course's founder Gerald Brown, and financial pressure upon 
the college (ultimately leading to its merger with Liverpool 
Polytechnic). During the year 1982/83 it was decided to 
discontinue the course. Of the thirteen students, nine 

Since 1981, the BA honours degree at Colchester Institute 1 
has been offering Christian Liturgical Music as a major 
option in its second and third years, comprising 40% of the 
entire degree. The option covers three areas: liturgical 
tradition (history of church music to the present day), 
placement (two years in a church of the student's denomina- 
tion), and composition. Students are encouraged to attend 
each other's services from time to time, so that they may 
respect their colleagues' differing traditions and broaden their 
own experience. The course produces roughly five graduates 
per year. The head of the School of Music has written: 

What we are not about is 'musicians who live in organ lofts'. We 
pride ourselves on being actively concerned with music for the 
people of God, not for the musically elite. However, our BA syllabus 
as such can cope with the needs of those who want to take 
ARCO/FRCO or whatever, but our first concern is the management 
and performance of music at a pastoral level. 2 

The Faculty of Church Music was founded in 1956 as an 
interdenominational body promoting church music. It offers 
examinations at three levels: associate, licentiate and fellow. 

1 Now an Associate College of Anglia Polytechnic which, in turn, will shortly 
become Anglia Polytechnic University. 

2 William Tamblyn, 'Liturgical music' in Church Times, 6623 (19 January 
1990), p. 13. 



Alternative options to organ playing or singing include 
composition and choir training. 

Since its foundation in 1888, the Guild of Church Musi- 
cians has undergone two changes of name, first from The 
Church Choir Guild' to 'The Incorporated Guild of Church 
Musicians' and, in recent years, to its present name. The 
Guild has some 600 members. In addition to the Year Book, 
there is a quarterly magazine Laudate. It also holds an annual 
one-day conference, embracing the annual general meeting. 
In 1961, Archbishop Fisher gave to the Guild the charge of 
administering a new examination — the Archbishop of 
Canterbury's Certificate in Church Music, ACertCM. 
Initially the practical part of this examination was for 
organists and choirmasters only but, is now open to singers 
and cantors as well. The syllabus was revised in 1987 to 
enable Roman Catholics to take the examination. At that 
time, Cardinal Basil Hume Archbishop of Westminster 
became, with the Archbishop of Canterbury, joint Patron of 
the Guild, and the examination's title was changed to the 
Archbishops' Certificate in Church Music. For whom is it 
intended? The Guild's prospectus reads: 

It is the expressed hope of the Archbishops that all who have the 
responsibility of leading the music of their church should aim to 
achieve the Certificate as a basic, minimum acceptable standard of 
music coupled with an understanding of the forms of service in 
which they exercise their special ministry. 

Much has been done to publicise the examination and to 
assist candidates to take it. There are evening classes being 
run in different parts of the country, residential training 
weekends (with grants available from the Leverhulme Trust), 
and there is now even a correspondence course. There are 
rewards for those who pass the examination, such as the 
letters ACertCM (recognised as a valid qualification by the 
Incorporated Society of Musicians), and an academic hood. 
All these have had an effect in arousing interest but, with less 
than 300 Certificates awarded in the first thirty years, the 



words of the Archbishops cannot be seen as anything more 
than what might be termed a pious hope for some 
considerable time to come. However, recent changes in the 
syllabus and the creation of an academic board may well play 
their part in improving the situation. Since 1985 the Guild 
has also offered an advanced diploma course, intermediate in 
difficulty between ACertCM and ADCM: this too will 
probably take a number of years to become established. 

The Music in Worship Trust was founded in 1984 by a 
small group of organists wishing to become more involved in 
the worshipping community. It has recently changed its name 
to the Music and Worship Foundation. It organises church- 
music workshops, and in 1991 initiated a one-year regional 
training programme. In collaboration with the London Bible 
College, it is proposing to begin a more formal one-year 
course and, eventually, a combined degree course in theology 
and church music. It is closely associated with the quarterly 
magazine Christian Music (Music in Worship until 1987). In 
an interview, director Robin Sheldon summarised the aims: 

[We try] to offer help and advice to all churches, across the whole 
range of what's available for instruments and voices, as to how best 
to use music in worship; and to look at the role it should occupy in 
this context. ... I know as a musician how important it is to deal with 
the nuts and bolts of performance, but it remains a tool in worship, 
not a tool to praise music. 1 

Although MWF might appear to be in competition with the 
activities of the RSCM (and indeed some of its members may 
at one time have wished it to be), there is now a large 
measure of co-operation between the two bodies. 

In 1987 the Royal Academy of Music introduced a Church 
Music course as part of its Complementary Studies pro- 
gramme. It is run in co-operation with St. Marylebone Parish 
Church and the RSCM. Lecturers include the clergy and 
organists of a number of cathedrals, both Anglican and 

1 John Greenhalgh, 'Music in Worship Trust' in Church Times, 6620 (29 
December 1989), p. 15. 



Roman: observation visits to those cathedrals comprise a 
significant part of the course. All students must first win their 
place at the Academy in their principal study (instrument or 
voice). The course may be taken as a one-year major option 
either by postgraduate students, or by those preparing for, or 
pre-elected to, a university organ scholarship. Other students 
(Performers, GRSM or BMus) can take different parts of the 
course throughout their three or four years spent at the 
Academy. The course generally has twelve regular students 
per year of whom, on average, all but one will be Anglicans 
(the exception normally being Roman Catholic), and of 
whom nine will be organists and three singers. The director 
of the course has indicated the reasons for launching it. 

This country's musical traditions have grown directly out of the rich 
soil of its diverse church music. But, over the last 20 years, liturgical 
practices and attitudes to music in worship have changed and 
developed at a rate unknown for generations, subjecting church 
musicians to new challenges and imperatives. The Academy's new 
course is intended as a positive response. . . . 

[The] course must extend its reach across denominational barriers, 
while maintaining a keen appreciation of denominational traditions. 
Second, it has to lay equal stress on purely musical skills and the 
understanding needed for their sensitive and imaginative application, 
an understanding involving aspects of liturgy, theology, pastoral care 
and administration. This philosophy ensures the course will convey 
the essentially 'ministerial' nature of the church musician's work. 1 

As an expression of his concern at the poor state of music 
in cathedrals in the first half of the nineteenth century, the 
Revd Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley in 1856 founded the 
College of St Michael at Tenbury Wells in Worcestershire, 
the first new choral foundation since the Reformation. 

It was intended to serve as a model to the whole Church in the 
efficient rendering of daily choral services, in the selection of a truly 
representative repertoire of the best sacred music, and in the 
well-ordered education of choirboys under ideal conditions. Its very 


Patrick Russill, 'Training Tomorrow's Church Musicians' in Church Music 
Quarterly, April 1990, p. 19. 



existence challenged the slackness everywhere else. . . . There are 
now seven lay clerks and the school has been expanded to take 
seventy boys, of whom eighteen are on the choral foundation. 1 

St Michael's Tenbury is no more. In 1985 the number of 
pupils had fallen below 50, making the College no longer 
financially viable. It closed in July of that year. The decline 
in pupils was blamed on the fact that the College was set in a 
sparsely populated catchment area, and plans to move to 
another area proved to be either unsuitable or incompatible 
with the founder's intention. 2 However, some felt that the 
College might have been saved, had the trustees alerted the 
public to the problems earlier. 3 

A new MMus course in English Church Music has recently 
been introduced by the School of Art History and Music at 
the University of East Anglia. This is the first higher-degree 
course in church music in Britain, and is being taught in 
collaboration with the organist of Norwich Cathedral. The 
course includes tuition in composition, performance (organ 
or singing), and choir training and conducting, as well as the 
preparation of a 10,000- word dissertation on some aspect of 
the history of English church music. The course has a 
considerably higher music content and correspondingly 
lower liturgical content than those at Colchester and the 

In 1983 there appeared an advertisement stating that, from 
October that year, the University of St Andrews would be 
offering a one-year postgraduate diploma in church music. 4 
The teaching was to be shared between the Department of 
Music and the Faculty of Divinity. The only student took the 
course in 1985/6, the first year of operation. The diploma 
ended when the Department of Music was reduced in 1988. 





Kenneth R. Long, The Music of the English Church (Hodder and Stoughton, 

London, 1972), pp. 324-5. 

'Top choir school to close soon' in Church Times, 6372 (29 March 1985), 

p. 3. 

Julian W.S. Litten, 'Closure of a college' in Church Times, 6377 (3 May 

1985), p. 13. 

For example in Church Times, 6281 (1 July 1983), p. 16. 



The Williams School of Church Music, situated in Harpen- 
den, Hertfordshire, became an independent institution with 
charitable status in 1971, although it had been a privately 
owned school for some ten years previously. It served two 
distinct but complementary needs. On the one hand, it was a 
conventional preparatory school, but one which provided 
specialist training for prospective cathedral choristers. On the 
other, it held training courses for adult church musicians, 
both through evening classes and by correspondence. This 
led to the award of a diploma and, after further study, to 
associateship of the college. Roughly twenty students per 
year reached this level. The school finally closed its doors 
seven years ago, the victim of financial difficulties. 

To summarise, the number of courses in the 'professional' 
category is expanding, those already well established being 
those at Colchester Institute and the Royal Academy of 
Music. The latter is not, as yet, a first study (with no 
qualification being awarded), but this is understood to be 
under consideration. Whilst the Academy's list of lectures 
and activities may be the more impressive, the course 
director 1 admits that this is at the cost of a 'living and regular 
liturgical focal point for "hands-on" experience', an essential 
part of the Colchester course. It is perhaps significant that the 
directors of both the Colchester and Academy courses are 
Roman Catholics, rather than Anglicans as might have been 
expected. A further important point is that, compared with 
the number of those required to exercise musical leadership 
in some capacity in the Church today, the number of those 
with any formal training specifically in church music must be 
regarded as extremely small. 

My questionnaire survey investigates the musical training 
(or rather the lack of it) offered to theological students. 
However, it may be noted at this stage that, apart from the 
proposed partnership of the Music and Worship Foundation 
and London Bible College, there is nothing in Britain 

1 Patrick Russill, 'Training Tomorrow's Church Musicians' in Church Music 
Quarterly (April 1990) p. 19. 



comparable to either the four-year Bible and Music Pro- 
gramme at the European Bible Institute at Lamorlaye, 
France 1 , or the one-year Master of Divinity with Church 
Music degree at the South Eastern Baptist Theological 
Seminary at Wake Fort, East Carolina. In particular, the 
syllabus of the Master of Ministry degree course, introduced 
in 1990 at the University of Sheffield, does not cover the use 
of music in worship at all. 

The following extract from the submission of the Royal 
College of Organists to the recent Archbishops' Commission 
on Church Music provides a fitting close to this chapter: 

There is a profound need for more practical musical training and 
liturgical education among clergy and organists respectively. This 
should be tackled particularly at the student level. The College stands 
ready to discuss and promote new initiatives, and believes that the 
theological colleges should examine and improve their courses in 
respect of music radically. At the same time it is hoped that the 
theological colleges themselves could provide 'short' courses for 
church musicians. There should be open and constructive 
discussions, formally constituted, aimed at producing future 
generations of musically trained and liturgically educated musicians 
and clergy. This way lies the route to high quality work and lack of 
mutual suspicion between the two groups. 2 


1 Susanne Slack, 'Training for Music Ministry' in Christian Music, Spring 
1990, pp. 20-23. 

'Archbishops' Commission on Church Music' in Year Book of the Royal 
College of Organists, 1989-90, pp. 12-13. 



The Call To Arms Is Sounding 1 

Three Case Studies 

In this chapter we turn to my survey of church music by 
means of questionnaire to clergy and church organists. First, 
however, while the RCO submission emphasising the need for 
more common ground between the two parties is still fresh in 
our minds, let us see what can happen when that common 
ground is missing. 

In each of the following true case studies, the principal 
participants were all well-meaning Christian people. However, 
their failure to communicate satisfactorily with each other 
gave rise to great distress — both to themselves and to many 
who looked to them for leadership. The names of the 
characters and the churches have of course been changed. 

The Sitting Tenant 

The Choir Dinner was always such a happy occasion. Each 
year the PCC voted that St Luke's should show its appreci- 
ation of the choir by inviting each adult member and his/her 
guest to dinner in a local restaurant. The vicar, the church- 
wardens and their wives always came along too. In his speech, 
Peter the vicar momentarily forgot exactly how many years 
Stanley had been organist at the church, and stopped to ask 
him. On being reminded that it was nineteen, he remarked that 
Stanley's 20th anniversary would have to be specially 

1 Mrs Hernaman, [in, for example,] Hymns Ancient and Modern Standard 
Edition (Clowes, London, 1922), No. 583. 



commemorated at next year's dinner. Granted, during the rest 
of the year, Stanley and a few other choir members were 
known not to get on well with Peter but, at least on this one 
evening of the year, any differences were forgotten. 

Within a month of the dinner, Stanley had been given three 
months' notice of dismissal and, within a further week, the 
entire congregation had been split into two warring factions, 
siding either with Peter or with Stanley. What had brought 
about this sorry state of affairs, and how did matters 
subsequently develop? 

Stanley had been organist at the church for a long time. A 
respected head of music at a local school, he felt at ease with 
upper-middle-of-the-road worship, which is what St Luke's 
had always offered until this young vicar appeared just six 
years ago. As soon as he arrived, Peter began to make little 
changes in the worship and, over the years, the church became 
gradually more evangelical. Stanley, various members of the 
choir, and even, it must be said, some members of the 
congregation were not happy. They felt keenly about this and, 
although they tried hard, they were unable to get their point of 
view across to Peter. Oh, how they hated singing choruses! 
Their only hope was that perhaps they could in time influence 
the rest of the congregation, who might in turn influence Peter 
to take things a bit more gently. Perhaps before too long he 
would be moving on to another church. 

But now this terrible news. Stanley had only just got home 
after taking his wife to hospital, when there was a knock at the 
door. It was Peter. After passing the time of day, Peter asked 
him how much longer he intended to stay on as organist at St 
Luke's, and seemed surprised to learn that Stanley was not 
intending to leave next year after completing 20 years' 
service. No, God willing, he intended to stay on for another 
20. Then Peter said the fateful words: 'Stanley, I am sorry, but 
we do not seem to be able to work well together. I must give 
you three months' notice.' Peter accepted afterwards that he 
had chosen a very unsuitable occasion on which to discuss the 
matter with Stanley, and that his off-the-cuff remark at the 



choir dinner had been most unfortunate. Moreover, he should 
have consulted the churchwardens before embarking on his 
present course of action. On the other hand, he knew that 
Stanley had for years been criticising his ministry, mainly 
behind his back and, in his shock at realising that Stanley 
would probably otherwise outlast him, he took the step that he 
had never before been able to summon up the courage to take. 

The criticism of before was nothing compared with the 
situation on the following Sunday. Battle lines had been 
drawn. Within a week, the news had been 'leaked' to the local 
press, and two days later it appeared in the national tabloids. 
Peter, Stanley, the wardens, even the choir, were involved in 
long and stressful meetings. Much of the normal work of the 
church had to be laid aside in order to make time for all these 
meetings. Then came the visitation from the bishop. Having 
privately heard the views of those most closely involved, he 
wanted to learn the consensus of the church. The meeting was 
very tense and, at its end, the bishop suggested a three-month 
'cooling-off period. This seemed to please no-one since it 
was felt that all methods of reconciliation had already been 
tried and had failed. The bishop departed to ponder the matter 

A week later came the announcement that the bishop had 
confirmed Peter's decision. Stanley served out his three 
months' notice and, when he left, half the choir and about a 
quarter of the congregation went with him. Some of the 
congregation eventually returned, but not until after Peter had 
himself left, a few years later. Stanley felt particularly bitter 
about the whole affair, the bitterness diminishing only after he 
had become organist of another church in the same town 
eighteen months after his dismissal. Peter soon found a new 
organist who was a keen evangelical. A contract of 
appointment was drawn up with the assistance of the Royal 
School of Church Music. This contract was for a period of 
five years with the possibility of renewal for fixed periods 




• How should a vicar deal with the situation of a 'sitting 
tenant', especially a long-standing one? 

• To what extent should he take note of the organist's views 
on worship, and to what lengths should he go to discover 

• To what extent should he make an effort to develop a 
satisfactory working relationship with the organist? 

• How important is it that an organist should have a contract 
of fixed length? 

• If a situation becomes intolerable, how should a vicar deal 
with the matter? 

Winds of Change 

St Peter's had quite a reputation for its 'bells and smells'. Fr 
Paul had been vicar there for more than half of his 72 years. 
Perhaps in a year or so he ought to step aside for someone 
younger, but there was plenty of time yet. Perhaps the 
congregation was not as large as it used to be, and there were 
not many young families, but he understood that other 
churches were suffering from the same problem and, all in all, 
things seemed to be ticking over pretty well. 

Fr Paul got on very well with Dick his organist, who was in 
his mid-fifties. Dick was a sales representative, and he had 
studied for a music diploma in his spare time. Like many 
amateur musicians, he was immensely keen, and over the last 
seven years had built up a 20-strong choir of boys and men. 
These were the days when to make a gramophone record was 
something rather special, and St Peter's choir had done just 
that. Moreover the record was selling well throughout the 

Then Dick had a heart attack, and although he soon 
recovered sufficiently to return to the console, he felt that he 
should give notice and retire. This perhaps caused Fr Paul to 
consider his own three score years and twelve, because shortly 
afterwards it became known that he had gone to see the bishop 



about retiring. As he did not want his successor to arrive at a 
church with no organist, he immediately advertised the post. 
Henry, a musician in his fifties, with an FRCO and a couple of 
other diplomas to his name, had recently taken early 
retirement and moved into the area. He was appointed and 
took up his post six weeks before Fr Paul finally retired. 

Four months later Fr Stephen was inducted as the new vicar. 
For the first time in over fifty years the vicarage reverberated 
to the sound of a teenage family. His induction service was 
magnificent: the augmented choir was well up to the standard 
that had been achieved on the record a few years earlier. 
Everybody felt that a great new era was about to begin at St 

Within a year Henry had resigned. He felt that Fr Stephen 
was interfering far too much in the running of the music. 
Trying to open membership of the choir to women was just 
one example of this interference. For his part, Fr Stephen 
regretted that he and Henry had not seen eye to eye: he would 
so much have preferred to make the appointment himself. 
Henry, he felt, was too set in his ways: Fr Stephen really 
wanted someone younger, more in line with his own ideas. 

The post was re-advertised, and this time there was no 
applicant. However, it was discovered that a newly-appointed 
music teacher at a local girls' school was looking for 
accommodation for his wife and young family. The vicarage 
was so large that part of it could very easily be used as a self- 
contained flat. Thus Bob was appointed. 

Fr Stephen's commission from the bishop was to try to 
reawaken St Peter's. For as long as anybody could remember, 
the pattern of worship had always been a said mass at 8.00, a 
sung mass at 9.30 and evening prayer at 6.30. The 1928 
Prayer Book had been used at all three services, and the choir 
sang at the sung mass and evening prayer. Fr Stephen felt that 
there was little chance of the congregation's increasing, as 
indeed it needed to, with a 1928 eucharist as the main service. 
He therefore proposed to the PCC that a Rite A [see page 35] 
service be substituted. This provoked outrage from the PCC, 



very few of whom had ever attended such a service, and some 
of whom had no intention of ever doing so. 

The only compromise seemed to be a split into two services: 
a Rite A family mass at 9.30, and a traditional mass at 11.15. 
The PCC reluctantly agreed to this arrangement. Fr Stephen 
reconciled himself to the fact that, for the time being, he 
would have to take three Sunday morning services instead of 
two, and preach two sermons instead of one (the non-stipendi- 
ary minister who had been promised would not be arriving for 
several months). 

The existing all-male choir would sing at the 11.15, whilst 
Bob would form a new choir of girls from his school to 
provide music for the less formal 9.30. Any men wishing to 
sing in both services would be more than welcome to do so. 
Bob seemed reasonably happy about the arrangement, 
although it constituted a significant increase in his responsi- 
bilities. The men in the choir were less happy. For some, the 
revised time of 11.15 was difficult, and they transferred to the 
9.30 service. Others preferred the traditional type of service, 
and sang only at the 11.15. Very few sang at both services 
although there was always a four-part quorum for evensong. 

Very few girls could be recruited for the 9.30 service despite 
Bob's best efforts. The congregation started criticising the 
girls' lack of volume, and Fr Stephen began to feel that the 
perfectly adequate choir at the 11.15 should really be there at 
9.30 instead. He listened to Bob's misgivings, but in the end 
overruled them. He was suffering from overwork, and a 
complaining organist was the last straw. In the resulting 
transfer to the 9.30 service, the choir lost three men, two of 
them tenors. 

Three months later Bob resigned. This was a difficult 
decision since it meant finding somewhere else to live, but he 
could stand it no more. The post of organist now was 
considerably different from the one he had been offered a year 
earlier: in particular there was effectively no longer any 
opportunity to perform traditional liturgical music. Moreover, 
he felt that decisions relating to music in the church were 



being taken without adequate reference to him. Fr Stephen 
was very sorry that Bob felt like this: it was so unfortunate 
that he had been appointed during a phase of transition within 
the church. 

The post was advertised, but there was no applicant. It was 
advertised more widely, and again no response. During the 
interregnum, Phil — a member of the congregation, and a 
music teacher at another local school, but in no real sense of 
the word an organist — had volunteered to run things. Fr 
Stephen gladly grasped this lifeline, but the men in the choir 
were less happy. They felt that Phil used to treat them as 
though they were in his class at school, and this reached a 
climax on one occasion when he could not attend evensong 
because of a school concert. One of the longer- serving 
members of the choir, although not really a keyboard player, 
had agreed to play the organ. Since Phil's arrival, no anthem 
had been sung at evensong despite the vocal resources being 
available, and several members of the choir agreed that it 
would be good to sing a short unaccompanied anthem, like old 
times. Fr Stephen was only too happy to agree, and the anthem 
was duly sung. When Phil got to hear of this, he said he felt 
that the choir had been disloyal to him, and that the choir was 
not in future going to be allowed to attend evensong at all. Fr 
Stephen was appalled at this, but since Phil was threatening to 
resign over the matter, and since there was no-one else both 
willing and able to play on a regular basis, he felt obliged to 
go along with it. 

Phil stayed at the church for some further time before 
moving on to another teaching appointment elsewhere. During 
this time, the choir gradually collapsed, partly because there 
was not enough for it to do: as members left, their places were 
not filled. 


• Was Fr Paul acting in the best interests of his successor, and 
of the church, when he appointed Henry? 



• Were the resignations of Henry or Bob to the benefit of the 
church? If not, to what extent should efforts have been made 
to persuade them to stay? 

• If they had been on the PCC, might their resignations have 
been averted? 

• Ought Fr Stephen to have stood his ground at Phil's ultima- 
tum, even at the risk of losing his third organist within two 
years of his arrival at the church? 

Chalk and Cheese 

All seemed settled at St George's, a large church in the centre 
of a moderate- sized town. Roger had been organist for ten 
years, and Martin vicar for five. Roger had been a choirboy at 
the church many years earlier, and in his teens had been taught 
the organ up to Grade 8 by the then organist. When the 
organist retired, Roger seemed the natural successor. There 
had always been a flourishing choir which sang a choral 
setting at the morning eucharist, and an anthem at evensong 
each week. Now, however, owing to relocation of Roger's 
work, St George's was having to look for a new organist. Of 
all the candidates, Nigel was by far the most promising. He 
was in his forties, held several music diplomas, and did much 
freelance playing and teaching. Martin, the vicar, saw in Nigel 
someone who could assist his own plans for really putting St 
George's on the map. They were roughly the same age, which 
also seemed promising. There was only one problem. Nigel 
was one of the Associated Board's overseas examiners, and 
consequently would be unavailable for two months each 

Martin did not have to wait long before Nigel's energies 
began to have an effect. He soon persuaded the PCC to create 
the post of organ scholar, open to a music student at the local 
university. This post was soon filled by James, who would 
play the organ while Nigel conducted the choir. The standard 
of the choir began to rise, and this in turn encouraged others to 
join, in some cases from quite far afield. In addition to the 90- 



minute Friday practice, there was now a 30-minute warm-up 
before both of the Sunday services. The carol service was the 
best that anyone could remember. Although Martin had earlier 
thought that Nigel was possibly over-qualified, he was now 
confident that the right choice had been made. 

As the choir continued to improve, so its repertoire 
increased. Each week it would now sing one or two motets at 
the eucharist, and an introit and an anthem at evensong. For a 
time there was a fully choral evensong on one Sunday each 
month but, after adverse comments were received from 
members of the congregation, this was changed to a Saturday 
evening. Each week the choir continued to sing an introit and 
anthem at Sunday evensong. Superimposed on this were a 
number of choral weddings, fund-raising concerts for the 
church, and the occasional choral service on weekday 
evenings. Nigel also instituted a series of lunch-time organ 
recitals for office workers. 

Although Martin and Nigel seemed to get on well together, 
one or two things about each of them got on the other's 
nerves. For his part, after processing in, Martin always wanted 
the organ music to stop as soon as he arrived in the stalls. On 
several occasions he spoke loudly into the microphone 
without giving whoever was playing the chance to finish. This 
irritated both Nigel and James. On the other hand, Nigel liked 
to conduct the choir from decani side, while the organ console 
was on cantoris. However, since Nigel felt James to be 
incapable of playing certain pieces — a view which many felt 
to be as inaccurate as it was frequent — he was often moving to 
and fro across the chancel during the service. Both Martin and 
the congregation found this very distracting. As the tensions 
were building up between Martin and Nigel, the latter began 
one of his overseas examining tours. On his return, he learned 
that Martin had been advised by his doctor to take life a little 
easier. Their meetings became less and less frequent, and 
arrangements were increasingly made by telephone and 
correspondence. Another issue that divided the two men was 
the question of choral services during the month of August. 



Nigel argued that, since the choir was working hard during the 
rest of the year, it deserved a break. However, Martin felt that 
it should be possible to maintain some sort of four-part 
quorum, especially since so many tourists normally attended 
the services in August. 

Four years after being appointed, Nigel resigned. He felt 
that for three of them Martin had not been at all co-operative. 
In addition, the salary had not been increasing in line with the 
rates recommended by the Royal School of Church Music. On 
those occasions when James was also absent, Nigel was 
having to pay a deputy out of his own pocket at a higher rate 
than he was receiving. For his part, Martin felt that, although 
both he and Nigel had been wanting the musical standard to 
be built up, Nigel had been trying to create a cathedral choir in 
a parish church. In some ways he was sorry to see Nigel go, 
but he felt that perhaps someone else might be more suitable. 
James felt that the two men were too strong-willed to be able 
to work with each other. Each had his own vision for the 
church, and unfortunately these visions had not coincided. The 
combination of three months' notice from Nigel and James's 
remaining time as organ scholar gave Martin six months in 
which to find a new organist. Almost immediately an 
advertisement was placed in Church Times, but none of the 
applicants was remotely suitable. After this, nothing further 
happened until after James had left, whereupon the post was 
readvertised. At that time, several members of the choir left to 
join other choirs, including a secular one recently founded by 

The applications to the second advertisement were more 
promising, including one from an assistant organist at a cathe- 
dral. He was offered the appointment but, as he was unable to 
find a suitable teaching appointment, he had to decline. The 
second choice was Kenneth, another professional musician. 
Although his home and work were both 40 miles away, he felt 
confident that, if he took the appointment, the commuting 
would not be an undue problem until such time as he could 
move to the area. Since none of the other candidates was at all 



suitable, Kenneth was appointed. The post of organ scholar 
fell into abeyance. Very soon Kenneth came to realise that the 
travel did pose a serious problem and, when he discovered the 
price of houses within a ten-mile radius of St George's, 
realised that he could not afford to move. All his salary as 
organist (still below the level recommended by the RSCM) 
was being spent in travel. Being away from home all day each 
Sunday was most unsatisfactory, and he found that he was 
lacking both the enthusiasm and the energy to embark on a 
recruiting drive to fill the now quite empty choir stalls. Within 
a year of his appointment, he resigned. 

After considerable further advertising, Bill was appointed. 
Bill's vision was to reintroduce an all-male choir at St 
George's after a break of 20 years. In mentioning this to the 
sopranos he suggested that their presence might possibly be an 
inhibiting factor in recruiting boys. The sopranos took the 
hint: some contraltos did not even wait to be asked. 


• In the light of subsequent events, was Martin wrong in 
appointing Nigel? 

• Given the fact that Martin and Nigel were such strong 
personalities, could the collision course have reasonably 
been foreseen and even avoided? If so, how? 

• Is there any means by which a vicar and a potential organist 
can discover whether they will be able to work satisfactorily 
together? If so, what? 

• In the light of subsequent events, was Martin wrong in 
appointing Kenneth? 

• What is the likelihood of Bill successfully re-introducing an 
all-male choir? 

• Laying musical considerations aside, what are the pastoral 
advantages and disadvantages of such a plan? 



Prophets, Teachers, True Recorders 1 

The Survey by Questionnaire 

Individual case studies such as those contained in the last 
section demonstrate the nature of some of the tensions that 
can exist between clergy and organists. However, they do not 
provide any information on the extent of the problem in the 
Church as a whole. It would have been quite impracticable for 
me to undertake a systematic visitation of hundreds of 
churches. Even if this had been possible, only in the most 
severe of cases would clergy/organist tensions be apparent to a 

It therefore seemed clear to me that a survey by means of 
questionnaire was the only solution. In the light of the case 
studies, readers may already be mentally composing some 
suitable questions ! 

The Type of Survey 

There are two sides to every disagreement. Clearly in order 
for the survey to be meaningful it was essential to obtain the 
views of organists as well as those of clergy. Since I would be 
asking clergy and organists to provide information on, 
amongst other things, their relationship with each other, I 
decided to provide a separate questionnaire for each, to be 
returned in separate prepaid envelopes. In choosing the 
questions, I had to strike a compromise between seeking as 

1 P. Dearmer, [in, for example,] Songs of Praise Enlarged Edition (OUP, 
London, 1931), No. 212. 



much information as possible, and not making undue demands 
on respondents' time. In addition, certain questions could not 
reasonably be asked because of their sensitive nature. Such 
questions included: (to the musical director) 'How satisfied 
are you with your vicar's theological and liturgical 
competence?'; and (to both parties) 'Do you believe that your 
vicar/musical director is a practising Christian?' 

The Church of England has, within the ranks of its faithful, 
widely differing opinions on almost every aspect of worship, 
and there are almost equally wide variations in its terminology. 
Some seemingly unambiguous words have different meanings 
in different contexts. Conversely, different branches of the 
Church use different words to mean the same thing. I tried to 
eliminate misunderstanding by specially defining in the 
questionnaires certain terms and, in order to assume a neutral 
stance, adopted certain composite terms. 

My first task was to identify the person with overall pastoral 
responsibility for a church. He/she might be known locally as: 
Rector, Team Rector, Vicar, Team Vicar, Minister (evangelical), 
Minister-in-charge (evangelical and/or a lay person in charge of 
a daughter church), Priest-in-charge. The term 'Clergy-in- 
charge', although neutral in tone, would in some instances have 
been factually incorrect. I therefore adopted the slightly clumsy 
term priest/minister-in-charge. The strength of feeling on this 
matter can be gauged from the fact that one clergyman who 
completed the questionnaire deleted the word 'minister' every 
time that it appeared. On occasions in the rest of this book, the 
term will be abbreviated to 'priest-in-charge' or, where there is 
no question of ambiguity, simply 'priest' . 

Strictly speaking, the person in charge of the music at a 
church is the priest/minister-in-charge. I therefore made a 
point in the questionnaires of defining the musical director 
as: 'the person who for practical purposes bears overall 
responsibility for music at a church'. Such a person has 
hitherto been the organist but, given their current shortage, 
and the increasing use of instrumental groups, this is no 
longer necessarily the case. On the one hand, there was the 



risk of frightening off some potential respondents who could 
not see themselves as having so grandiose a title. Conversely, 
the word 'organist' would discourage, for example, someone 
who had been accompanying all the services on a piano for 
the last five years because no organist could be found. A 
recent survey 1 in predominantly evangelical churches has 
found that the job title of the music leader was 'music(al) 
director' or 'director of music' in 25% of cases, 'music 
coordinator' in 5% and 'worship leader' in 4% of cases. 
Another survey reported the use of 'music(al) director', 
'director of music' or 'music coordinator' in a third of the 
sample. 2 In addition, the term 'minister of music' is used 
increasingly in certain churches, especially in America, to 
emphasise the pastoral nature of the post. 

I defined a choir as: 'a group of singers (robed or unrobed) 
remaining together during a service, even when they are not 
singing'. A group defined in this way would probably be 
expected to lead, at least nominally, the congregational singing. 

If a church did not have its own parochial church council 
(for example because it was a daughter church), in those 
questions relating to the PCC, respondents were asked to 
answer in terms of their own church's nearest equivalent. In 
many evangelical churches, hymns are known as songs, so the 
composite term hymns/congregational songs was used. 

Although I was fortunate enough to meet most of the 
clergy at chapter meetings, I needed some means of present- 
ing the project to the others and to all the musical directors. 
They were being asked to give of their time, and to answer 
questions of a confidential and potentially compromising 
nature. I therefore sent a covering letter, explaining the 
project, and reassuring them that it had diocesan backing, 
and that their confidentiality would be respected. I signed 
each letter and, in the case of the clergy one, wrote the 
priest's name at the head of the page. Respondents were 

1 'Results of Your Completed Questionnaire Forms' in Music in Worship, 39 

(Summer 1987), p. 6. 

rce Paper 84:" 


2 A Joyful Noise (Resource Paper 84:7) (Administry, St. Albans, 1984), p. 5. 


invited to send a stamped addressed envelope for a summary 
of the results: one in eight did so. 

A priest responsible for more than one church would 
receive an appropriate number of questionnaires. Since the 
questionnaires were going to be analysed on a church-by- 
church basis, he would need some means of knowing which 
questionnaire referred to which church. If the name of the 
church were written on the questionnaire itself, and it 
subsequently went astray in the post, then the information 
would cease to be confidential. I therefore wrote on the 
questionnaire a serial number, and on each priest's covering 
letter the serial number(s) and name of the respective 
church(es). Similarly, it was not beyond the bounds of 
possibility that a musical director might be responsible for 
more than one church and receive questionnaires either from 
the same or even from two different priests. To avoid 
confusion, I wrote the serial number and name of the church 
on each musical director's covering letter. 

The Area of the Survey 

Survey results based on a small sample cannot be regarded as 
reliable, and my original aim was to examine up to a 
thousand churches in different types of diocese. However, 
before embarking on this, I wanted to test the questionnaires' 
effectiveness in a pilot study. This began in January 1988 in 
the hundred churches of four deaneries in the Diocese of 
Oxford. It was soon clear that the questionnaires of both 
parties were being completed as intended, and returned in 
quite large numbers. This very success, however, gave rise to 
a new problem. I had always intended to type the data into 
the computer personally (indeed I had no budget for a 
separate typist!), but had not anticipated the sheer magnitude 
of the task. Had the project continued on the scale originally 
envisaged, the task would have become totally impracticable. 
I decided therefore only to extend the pilot study to eight 
further deaneries in the Oxford Diocese. This brought the 
total for the project to 298 of the 826 churches, in twelve of 



the 29 deaneries in the diocese. The distribution of 
questionnaires in the remainder of the project took place 
between June 1988 and February 1989. 

The Diocese of Oxford covers 2222 square miles, making 
it the fifth largest in the Church of England. Its northern tip 
is only 30 miles from Birmingham, in the East it is within 
12 miles of Central London, while its south-western corner 
is within 25 miles of Salisbury. Its total population in mid- 
1987 was 1,948,000. 

Apart from its size, Oxford may be regarded as a very 
'average' diocese. Calculations on data taken from Church 
Statistics 1 yielded the following information for each of the 
43 dioceses in the Church of England: population per square 
mile, population per church, percentage of population on 
church electoral rolls, and number of Sunday church 
attendances per 1000 population. Nineteen dioceses had a 
lower population per square mile than Oxford (whose value 
was 877), 22 had a higher. Fifteen dioceses had a lower 
population per church, 27 had a higher. Oxford's value was 
2358. Its proportion of population on church electoral rolls 
was 3.4%, twenty dioceses had a higher figure, 22 a lower 
one. Finally, Oxford noted 28 Sunday church attendances 
per 1000 population: fifteen dioceses recorded a higher 
figure, 27 a lower one. We may therefore regard the Diocese 
of Oxford as typical in several important respects, and any 
conclusions drawn from the present survey may reasonably 
be taken to apply in other dioceses also. 

Distribution and Return of Questionnaires 

Even with diocesan approval, any questionnaire arriving 
'cold' on a vicarage doormat might easily go straight into a 
wastepaper-basket. This could be overcome, but not very 
efficiently, by my telephoning each priest-in-charge to seek 
his approval before sending the questionnaire to him. 

1 Church Statistics: Some facts and figures about the Church of England 
(Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, London, 1989), pp. 1- 



A method more effectively demonstrating official support was 
for me to distribute the questionnaires personally at a chapter 
meeting, address the meeting, and invite questions. This 
proved possible in ten of the twelve deaneries, and seemed to 
work very successfully. In some cases, I was invited to the 
lunch which accompanied the meeting. On these occasions I 
normally provided some sherry — I am uncertain whether this 
had any effect on the response rate. In the remaining two 
deaneries, there was either no chapter meeting scheduled for 
the immediate future, or its agenda was already full. In these 
cases, I telephoned each priest-in-charge before posting the 

There appeared to be no equivalent way of making contact 
with the musical directors. For those churches affiliated to the 
Royal School of Church Music, there is an identifiable RSCM 
correspondent, but frequently he/she is not the musical director. 
In any case, less than half the churches were affiliated. The 
name and telephone number of the musical director could in 
principle be obtained from the priest or a churchwarden (whose 
name and address could be found in the Diocesan Year Book 1 ). 
However, I felt that musical directors would be at least as likely 
as the clergy to take an interest in such a survey, and might well 
need less persuasion to complete their questionnaires. I 
therefore decided to ask the clergy to pass on the musical 
directors' questionnaires. The risk of a priest either deliberately 
or accidentally failing to do so seemed to be fairly heavily 
outweighed by the savings in both time and postage. 2 

In most cases, the questionnaires were returned within six 
weeks of their distribution. However, if after two months the 
priest's questionnaire had not been returned, he was given a 
reminder. This took the form of a telephone call, preferably to 
him personally, or, failing that, to a member of his family or 
his answering machine. Failure to respond was generally 

1 Oxford Diocesan Year Book 1988 (Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, 
Oxford, 1987). 

2 The envelope containing the musical director's questionnaire and covering 
letter was unsealed, so that the priest might be reassured to know at least the 
questions being asked, even if he would not learn the responses to them. 



caused by pressure of other work rather than hostility to the 
questionnaire although, even in the latter case, many clergy 
were amenable to persuasion. By this stage, however, some of 
the questionnaires had already been consigned to the 
wastepaper-basket. In some cases, the questionnaires had been 
put safely aside to be completed in a spare moment — and lost. 
In either of the last two situations, if the priest expressed 
willingness to complete a duplicate questionnaire, he 
generally did so. If neither party's questionnaire had been 
returned, again the priest was approached in the first instance. 
If only the musical director's questionnaire was missing, 
he/she was reminded by telephone. If necessary, a second 
reminder was sent after a further two months. 

In a very few cases, questionnaires were returned unan- 
swered, usually with a covering letter. Some of the reasons 
given are listed below. 

• 'Questionnaire has no relevance whatever to St X church.' 
(The person concerned was subsequently telephoned and 
was persuaded to dictate his responses to the questionnaire 
over the telephone.) 

• 'Questionnaire much too long and complicated to be 
attempted.' (The letter explaining this was itself very long, 
and yielded a fair amount of useful information.) 

• T am afraid that I do not have the time to give the 
questionnaire the attention that it deserves.' 

• T never complete questionnaires unless I am forced to.' 

The Analysis 

The data analysis was performed by SAS (Statistical Analysis 
System) on computers at Oxford University Computing Service. 

The Response Rate 

The response rate of the musical directors was 71%, slightly 
lower than the clergy 78%. However, since the questionnaires 
were distributed to the directors via their respective priest, it is 
likely that at least some never reached them at all, so making 
their true response rate at least comparable to that of the clergy. 



Outcome Of Distribution Of Questionnaires 

Musical director 


Total distributed 


Total distributed 


Completed by MD 




Completed by PC 
acting as MD 2 


Interregnum 1 


Churches without MD 


Churches without music 


Not completed 


Not completed 


Response rate 


Response rate 3 


In the recent ACCMUS survey, 680 forms were distributed 
to clergy and 545 were returned, a response rate of 80%. It 
would appear from the Report 4 that the 680 were selected on 
the basis that they had all replied to an earlier survey on 
church finance — an ingenious way of maximising the 
response rate to the ACCMUS survey. There are, however, 
dangers in such an approach in that the sample of 680 may 
then not be sufficiently representative of the Church of 
England as a whole. A paper on clergy response rates to 
questionnaires has recently been published. 5 

In some cases, parts of the questionnaire were completed either by another 
member of the clergy or a churchwarden. 

In the absence of any sort of musical leader, certain clergy saw themselves in 
the role by default. Others simply recorded the absence of a musical director. 
Even in the latter case, parts of the questionnaire were often completed. The 
distinction between the two cases is, however, somewhat arbitrary and may 
represent nothing more than the amount of time that the priest had available 
when attending to the questionnaires. In all subsequent analysis, where the 
views of musical directors are being compared with those of the clergy, such 
duplicated results will be excluded from the directors' set. In other cases, 
churchwardens saw themselves in the role by default. 

In two deaneries, the questionnaires were distributed to clergy by post rather 
than personally at a chapter meeting. This did not seem to affect the response 

Jacqui Cooper, Music in Parish Worship (Central Board of Finance of the 
Church of England, London, [dated] 1990 [but not published until 1992]). 
Robin L.D. Rees and Leslie J. Francis, 'Clergy response Rates to Work- 
Related Questionnaires: A Relationship Between Age, Work Load, and 
Burnout?' in Social Behavior and Personality 19, No. 1 (1991), pp. 45-51. 


Captains Of The Saintly Band 1 

Musical Directors and Priests: 
Their Similarities and Differences 

Given the recent upheavals and the reported cases of conflict 
between clergy and church musicians, I wanted to investigate 
the situation at churches, as seen through the eyes of the 
musical director on the one hand, and the priest-in-charge on 
the other. However, I also wanted to analyse the 
characteristics of the respondents themselves, to see whether 
their differences of background or of general attitude could 
be related to the differences in their perception of the 
situation at their particular church. 

In this chapter therefore, we focus our attention on two 
different species — musical directors on the one hand and 
priests/ministers-in-charge on the other. We note similarities 
and differences in their personal characteristics: sex, age and 
education, before moving on to compare their general 
attitudes to worship and to church music. 2 

J.B. de Santeuil, tr. H.W. Baker, [in, for example,] Hymns Ancient and 
Modern Revised (Clowes, Beccles, 1950), No. 507. 

Many clergy and some musical directors were responsible for more than one 
church and, as such, completed more than one questionnaire. The numbers of 
musical directors and priests who completed questionnaires (as opposed to 
the number of questionnaires that they completed) were 165 and 125 
respectively, and the results of this chapter are based on these figures. In 
other words, a priest in charge of, for example, four churches is counted only 



General Characteristics 

When I looked at musical directors, I found that the ratio of 
men to women was just over two to one. This compares with 
four to one a few years earlier, 1 so the organ console is now 
far from being an all-male preserve. Although the same cannot 
at present be said for the vicar's stall — the ratio of males to 
females for ministers-in-charge was over a hundred to one — it 
will be interesting to see if there is any significant change in 
this figure by the turn of the century. In the clergy 
questionnaire, the question concerning sex was postponed 
until page 4: a clergyman hostile to the ordination of women 
might have become equally hostile to the questionnaire if he 
had been asked his sex as the very first question. Indeed, one 
respondent deleted the word 'sex' altogether and substituted 

Age (years) 

Under 20 
20 - 29 










30 - 39 




40 - 49 

50 - 59 

+ ^ m 

60 - 69 



+^^^^^ m 


Over 69 





— +— 

+ + + + — 

10 20 30% 

The most common age range of musical directors was 40- 
49, that of clergy 50-59, their estimated 2 average ages being 
47.6 and 50.6 respectively. The youngest musical director 

Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), p. 38. 

One may reasonably assume that the average age of those within a given age 
group is midway between the limits. In other words, a reasonable estimate of 
the average age of the group aged between 20 and 29 is 24.5. In this way one 
can obtain an estimate of the average age of the full set of respondents. The 
average age of those 'under 20' and 'over 69' is a little more difficult to 
ascertain, but common sense would suggest values of about 18 and 72 
respectively. Moreover, since there are likely to be relatively few in either 
category, even quite a large change in either of these figures would have very 
little influence on the value of the estimated average of the full set. 



was only fourteen years old and, sadly perhaps, was pre- 
vented by his mother from answering some of the more 
contentious questions. 

Several other matters of a general nature emerged from the 
early questions. A high proportion of the clergy had entered 
the ministry early in life, and almost two thirds had been in 
the ministry for 20 years or more. These points are illustrated 
in the charts below. One in forty was in either post-retirement 
or non- stipendiary ministry, the rest in stipendiary. Only one 
in fifty had studied part-time for ordination. The main pro- 
fession of almost a third of the musical directors was (or had 
been) in the field of music. 

Priest-in-charge's time in secular employment before ministerial 

Less than 3 years + ^h^^^^^^^^^ 
3-9 years + ^m^^^^^^b 
10 years or more + ^h^^^^b 

+ + + + +- 

10 20 30 40% 

Period since completion of priest-in-charge's training 

Less than 10 years +■■■■■■■■■ 
10-19 years +■■■■■■■■■■ 

20-29 years +^hmmmmmmmb 

30-39 years +^hmmmmb 

40 years or more +^ 

+ + + + 

10 20 30% 

Musical Ability 

Next I wanted to discover the levels of musical attainment of 
our two parties. I therefore asked: Tf you have ever attended 
instrumental or singing lessons, what was your approximate 
level of attainment?' 

Attainment level 




No lessons 



Grade 2 or 

Grade 3-5 


Grade 6-8 





Fellow/Mus . 



+ + + + + + + + + +— 

10 20 30 40% 10 20 30 40 



A third of the musical directors had Grade 5 or less, but an 
equal number held a Licentiate or above. In 1982, the 
proportion in the latter group was found to be as high as a 
half. 1 (This discrepancy may well be caused by a major 
turnover of directors since 1982 — we look at evidence for 
this on page 132 — or perhaps those responding to the earlier 
survey, all at RSCM-affiliated churches, were unrepresenta- 
tive in their high level of musical activity.) Half the clergy 
had never received any tuition at all, while a further third had 
reached only Grade 2 or lower. In the circumstances, I find 
the ACCMUS statement: 'Most clergy have at least some 
musical knowledge' 2 quite surprising, and wonder on what 
data it is based. The average for musical directors fell at 
about Grades 6-8 

Musical Training in Theological Colleges 

Having noted the clergy's lack of musical expertise, we may 
reasonably ask whether they were given adequate opportun- 
ity for studying the use of music in worship during their 
ministerial training. I began by asking how many hours had 
been devoted to this. 

Time spent on musical study during ministerial training 

- 4 hours +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

5-19 hours +^^^^h 

20-39 hours +mmm 

40-79 hours +mm 

Over 7 9 hours +^^ 

10 20 30 40 50% 

During the course of their entire ministerial training, a 
majority of the clergy had spent four hours or less studying 
the use of music in worship. Three quarters had spent less 

1 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), p. 32. 

2 In Tune With Heaven, Report of the Archbishops' Commission on Church 
Music (Church House Publishing, and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 
1992), p. 191. 



than twenty hours. The average was eighteen. (A few clergy 
indicated that they had included the time of college choir 
practice, and others may well have done so without recording 
the fact. The time actually spent on study would therefore be 
even lower than these figures suggest.) Did they feel that this 
was adequate in quantity and quality? 

Adequacy of musical training: Quantity 

Much too little time 
Too little time 

About right 

Too much time 


Much too much time 


+ + + + 

10 20 30 

— + 


— + 

Adequacy of musical training: Quality 

Very unhelpful 





Very helpful 


10 20 30 



More than half the clergy felt that the time had been either 
too little or much too little. Although it is likely that some of 
the participants in the survey were not in the least interested 
in music, not a single one felt the training to have been 
excessive. Almost half felt that they had derived no benefit 
from their musical training, whilst almost two thirds were not 
satisfied with its quantity and/or quality. Combining these 
figures with data elsewhere in the questionnaire, I also 
discovered that the catholic colleges have always spent more 
time in music-training than their evangelical and middle-of- 
the-road counterparts. Worryingly, during the last thirty years 
the time spent in musical training has actually fallen at all 
types of college! 

Musical Refresher Courses 

Given the above, it was important to discover how widely 
musical directors and clergy were availing themselves of the 



church-music refresher courses run by the RSCM and other 
bodies, and whether these courses were felt to be helpful. 
Three quarters of the clergy had not attended such a course 
since ministerial training, and an equal proportion of musical 
directors had not done so in the last three years. However, 
those attending had usually found them helpful or very 

Helpfulness of courses 




Pries t-in-charge 

Very unhelpful 










Very helpful 

• — + 

+ + + + 

+ — 

— +— 

+ — 




20 40 60% 

In a survey undertaken by the Music in Worship Trust, nearly 
three out of five of church musicians were attending regional 
training courses. 1 Even allowing for the fact that the report 
fails to define 'musicians' (the director or the whole choir?), 
and the nature and frequency of the courses, this figure seems 
commendably high. 

Had our respondents, either as children or as adults, ever 
sung in a church choir? In other words, had they at some 
time in their lives been receiving regular training, however 
minimal, in church music? Two fifths of the clergy and a 
quarter of the musical directors had never done so. The latter 
figure may seem surprisingly high, but half of these directors 
were women, to whom the traditional all-male choir would 
have been be a closed door. 

Levels of Education 

Having looked at specifically musical qualifications, we now 
take a look at the priests' and musical directors' qualifica- 
tions in general. Both groups of respondents were asked 
whether they held the following: fellowship and/or first 

1 'Results of Your Completed Questionnaire Forms' in Music in Worship, 39 
(Summer 1987), p. 5. 



degree in music, first degree in theology, first degree in any 
other subject, higher degree in any subject, church music 
qualification with liturgical content (e.g. Archbishop's 
Diploma or Certificate, rather than ARCO(CHM)), teacher- 
training certificate, and other professional qualifications. 


Fel . /1st deg . mus . 
1st deg. theol. 
1st deg. other 
Higher deg. 
Ch . mus . qual . 
Teaching cert . 

+ + + + + + + + + + — 

10 20 30% 10 20 30 40 50% 

Roughly a third of the clergy held a degree in theology, 
slightly higher than the proportion of musical directors 
holding a comparable qualification in music. (The musical 
directors holding degrees in theology all turned out to be 
assistant priests holding also high musical qualifications. 
However, a further one in six of the directors had undertaken 
some form of adult theological or pastoral training course — 
in at least one case to the level of Lay Reader.) 

A qualification in church music should in theory be a point 
of contact between musicians and the clergy, but the results 
from this question are not encouraging. 

Most clergy lacked the necessary practical skills to take 
such an examination (Grade 5 Practical was until recently 
demanded as a prerequisite for the ACertCM), whilst the 
musicians seemed to lack the interest. We will be looking at 
this point again on page 103. Qualifications in the 'other' 
category were for the musical directors in social work, 
management, librarianship, physics, and theology. For the 
clergy they were in accountancy, administration, engineering, 
the Law Society and the Civil Service. 

In order to obtain a still broader view, I counted the 
number of qualifications of each respondent. Ordination was 
included as a qualification, as was a licentiate in music. 


Number of qualifications 













+ + + + 




10 20 30% 

On these admittedly arbitrary criteria, the clergy appeared to 
be significantly more highly qualified, although less obvi- 
ously so amongst the real high-flyers. The average number of 
qualifications for musical directors was 1.4, for clergy 2.3. 

Membership of Church Musical Associations 

By this stage it had become apparent that there was no real 
point of contact between clergy and musical directors as far 
as academic study was concerned. Was there perhaps 
anything more hopeful when it came to membership of 
church-related musical associations? Since membership 
implies a potential receptiveness to new ideas, I asked both 
parties whether they belonged to: the Royal School of 
Church Music (as a personal member), Guild of Church 
Musicians, local branch of the Incorporated Association of 
Organists, Royal College of Organists, Friends of Cathedral 
Music, Music in Worship Trust, and any other associations. 

Membership of musical associations 

Musical director Priest-in-charge 

RSCM +^^^^^^^_ + H 

GCM + H + 

IAO +^^^^^^^^ m + 

RCO +^^^^^^^^ m + 

FCM +^^ + H 

MIW +^^ +^^_ 

Other + H + m 

+ + + + + + + + 

5 10 15% 5 10 15% 

Of all the church music associations, the one most directly 
influential is the RSCM. We will be looking at church- 
membership of the RSCM on pages 103 and 126, but 



personal membership implies a somewhat deeper interest on 
the part of the individual. Few, however, held such member- 
ship. The Incorporated Association of Organists is an 
educational charity, taking its present title in 1929. 1 It works 
at local level with almost 100 regional centres, nationally and 
internationally, to advance the knowledge and enjoyment of 
the organ and its music. Whilst not involved expressly with 
church music, the IAO does nevertheless provide a forum for 
organists to exchange ideas with each other but not, it would 
appear, with the clergy. However, less than one in seven even 
of the musical directors seem to avail themselves of the 

Since 1957 the Friends of Cathedral Music have been 
fostering the welfare of cathedral music through regional 
gatherings of its members, grants to assist choral foundations, 
etc. Their free booklet Singing in Cathedrals, published 
annually in conjunction with several other bodies, lists the 
times of all choral services at cathedrals and collegiate 
chapels. (We have already noted on page 29 the recent FCM 
survey of the most widely-sung cathedral music.) Cathedral 
music is very far removed from that found nowadays in most 
parish churches, and this perhaps explains why its 
membership was so low among those taking part in the 
survey. Lower still was the level of membership of the Guild 
of Church Musicians. The Music in Worship Trust (now called 
Music and Worship Foundation) is predominantly evangelical 
in outlook but, even in this wing of the Church, membership 
among musical directors was very low. However, clergy 
membership was higher here than for other organisations. 
Other musical associations had even less support. Two of 
those specified were purely local groups, the third was the 
Christian Music Association, mentioned on page 67. 

In isolation the above figures give no clue as to whether 
the membership was evenly spread, or whether a few people 
belonged to many organisations. The table below, showing 

1 Roger Bishton, 'The Incorporated Association of Organists' in Church Music 
Quarterly, October 1985, pp. 8-9. 



the number of organisations to which each respondent 
belonged, remedies this: the more organisations, in all 
probability the greater the commitment. 

Number of organisations excluding church affiliation 

Musical director 







+ + + + + — 

+ + + + + — 

20 40 60 80% 

20 40 60 80% 

Some two thirds of the musical directors and nine out of ten 
clergy held no personal membership. Church affiliation to the 
RSCM (as opposed to personal membership) is another 
potential measure of commitment and interest. It is, however, 
less direct in that the church treasurer may be paying the 
RSCM subscription each year, without either the priest or the 
musical director necessarily availing themselves of the 
benefits of membership. Notwithstanding this, if affiliation 
or personal RSCM membership scores 1 point (but instances 
of membership and affiliation count only once), the charts 
then take the following form. 

Number of organisations including church affiliation 

Musical director 





+ H 








+ + + + + 

+ + + + + 

20 40 60 80% 

20 40 60 80% 

More than two fifths of the musical directors and more than 
half the clergy did not have access to the news and views of 
any of the church-related musical associations. This surely is 
not a healthy situation. (We will be looking further into 
church affiliation to the RSCM on page 126.) Despite this, I 
wondered whether respondents might be interested in joining 
with other clergy and musicians in a discussion group on 
music and worship. 


Level of interest in a discussion group 

Musical director 


Not interested 

Fairly interested 

Very interested 

+ + + +- 

10 20 30% 

+ + + +- 

10 20 30% 

The level of interest of both parties was only moderate for a 
meeting which might help resolve or even avoid misunder- 
standing between them, thereby perhaps enriching a church's 
worship. There was possibly the feeling that discussing 
matters in general terms would not be particularly produc- 
tive. A few clergy and directors expressed interest, but felt 
that they could not spare the time. 

Differing Ideas for Worship 

Do musical directors and clergy, as two separate groups, have 
significantly differing ideas for what constitutes worship? 
Three common measures for this are charismatic/non- 
charismatic, catholic/evangelical, and liberal/conservative. 
Of these, the last seemed to have the least influence on 
church music, so I did not pursue it. 

Instead I asked both parties to indicate their preferences 
concerning the other two. This provoked a number of 
comments, some hostile. From the directors these included: 
don't understand; or more extremely don't understand and 
don't want to; don't understand in the context of music (it 
was not intended to be taken in this context!); does not apply 
(probably a variation of the previous response); / am not 
prepared to answer; I want traditional (a frequent response); 
or even Agnostic (traditional). From the clergy there were 
fewer comments. One indicated that he had attempted to 
answer the questions in a musical sense (e.g. evangelical 
choruses vs. gregorian chants). Others expressed dissatisfac- 
tion at being asked to categorise worship in this way. 

The question on charismatic worship produced a signifi- 
cantly lower response rate than other questions, especially 



amongst the musical directors. This may well be because, 
unless they were involved in the Charismatic Movement, 
many would not understand the meaning of the word. The 
comments mentioned above provide some evidence of this. 
However, several of the clergy felt that the word was too 
imprecise. In addition to its colloquial sense of freedom of 
expression in worship, even possibly speaking in tongues as 
at Pentecost ('glos solaria'), it could also simply mean 
worship guided by the Holy Spirit. 

Charismatic worship: personal preferences 

Musical director 
Very -3 +^_ 

char . -2 +^^^ m 

Very 2 +, 

non-char . 3 +^^^^^^^^^^^^_ 

+ + + + — 

10 20 30% 

The form of the charts is strange. In the case of the musical 
directors, with the exception of a minor peak in the middle, 
there is a clear majority preferring to avoid charismatic 
worship. For the clergy, there is a peak of those preferring 
mildly charismatic worship and a second, smaller, peak of 
those preferring to avoid it. The averages of the two groups 
are respectively 0.8 and 0.3. 

Catholic/evangelical worship: personal preferences 


-3+ m 




— + — 


_i + 



n + 




1 4. 




o 4. 



evang . 

■3 4. 






+ + + + — 

10 20 30% 

Most musical directors seemed to favour worship towards the 
catholic end of the spectrum, although there was a secondary 
peak in the mildly evangelical area. This, strangely, is a 
viewpoint which found least favour amongst the clergy, whose 



chart has a main peak at the fairly strong catholic stance, and a 
smaller one at the strongly evangelical. The average figure for 
musical directors is -0.5, for clergy -0.9. 

The Ideal Musical Director 

What qualities should we be looking for in the ideal musical 
director? Are these absolute, or are certain qualities import- 
ant simply because the individual priest perceives them to be 

In an attempt to obtain an insight into this, I asked both 
parties to indicate their views on each of the following 
criteria for appointing a musical director to a church: 

• Church music qualification with liturgical content (e.g. 
Archbishop's Diploma or Certificate); 
Other qualifications in music; 
School-teaching qualification; 

Ability to play hymns and other congregational music well; 
Ability as a solo organist; 
Liturgical awareness; 
Musical director is a practising Christian; 
Pastoral gifts; 
Administrative ability; 
Willingness to co-operate in a flexible way; 
Involvement with other church-based activities; 
Involvement with 'non- traditional' church music; 
Ability in training young (under- 16) choir members; 
Ability in training adult members; and 
Ability to attract and retain a choir. 

I asked them to give their responses on a scale from 1 (very 
advantageous), through 2 (advantageous), 3 (not relevant) 
and 4 (disadvantageous) to 5 (very disadvantageous). The 
table shows the average values, as perceived by the musical 
director and priest respectively. 



We see from the table that neither party held qualifications 
in church music in very high esteem. (In particular, one 
interpretation of the response of the two priests who found 
the qualification to be disadvantageous is that they might feel 
threatened by such a director.) This must be disappointing to 
the Archbishops, who have expressed the wish that: 'all who 
have the responsibility of leading the music of their church 
should aim to achieve [the ACertCM] as a basic, minimum 
acceptable standard'. 1 One crumb of comfort was that those 
musical directors who had taken such a qualification felt 
marginally more enthusiastic about it than those who had not. 

Both clergy and musical directors felt that qualifications in 
'ordinary music' were more useful than qualifications in 
church music. Once more, musical directors were a little less 
impressed with such qualifications than were the clergy — 
who may in some cases have been only too well aware of the 
need for their musical director to be better qualified! 

Playing music for congregational singing was considered 
to be the most important factor of all those listed. Three 
quarters of both parties felt this to be 'very advantageous'. A 
possible view of those few clergy and directors who did not 
feel that the criterion was relevant may have been that the 
organ playing should be in the hands of an assistant. One 
musical director, after replying 'not relevant' for ability as a 
solo organist, remarked: 'You cannot do much on a 
harmonium' . 

1 Prospectus of the Guild of Church Musicians (London, 1990) [p. 3]. 



Criteria for Appointing a Musical Director 
Musical director's view Priest-in-charge's view 

Very advantageous - 1.0 - 

Hymn-playing ability 

Attract/retain choir 

Willingness to co-operate 

Practising Christian 

Children's choir training 
Adult choir training 

Liturgical awareness 

'Ordinary music' qual. 


Solo organist 
Admin, ability 

Church-music qual. 

Pastoral gifts 
Other church activities 

Non-traditional music 

School-teaching qual. 

Not relevant 


Very disadvantageous 










- 5.0 - 


Hymn-playing ability 

Willingness to cooperate 
(i) Practising Christian 
(ii) Attract & retain choir 
Liturgical awareness 

Adult choir training 
Children's choir training 

'Ordinary music' qual. 

Church-music qual. 
Non-traditional music 
Solo organist 

Pastoral gifts 

Admin, ability 

Other church activities 

School-teaching qual. 


Clergy and musical directors were in marked disagreement 
over the benefits of 'liturgical awareness' (the musical 
director's detailed understanding of what is happening during 
the service so that, for example, a short interlude can be 
played, or indeed drawn to a conclusion, at the right 
moment). The religious conviction of the musical director 
was regarded as very important, both by the directors 
themselves and by the clergy. It may seem surprising that the 
clergy did not take a stronger line on the question of the 
musical director's religious conviction. However, one priest 
wrote on the questionnaire: 'You put up with whoever you 
can get', and this view may be reflected in the clergy's 
response to this criterion. Conversely, another priest com- 
mented: 'very very advantageous', whilst no fewer than three 
musical directors felt it to be 'essential'. 

Despite the care I had taken in the questionnaires to avoid 
offence, one musical director found the term 'practising 
Christian' offensive, and felt that no-one should dare to claim 
to be one. Pastoral gifts, which might be defined as the 
ability to offer spiritual as well as musical leadership, were 
regarded more highly by the clergy than by the directors 
themselves, one of whom wrote: 'don't understand' against 
this criterion. Administrative ability includes advance 
planning (such as ordering music in time for a special 
service), and ability to communicate orally and in writing 
with others. Surprisingly perhaps, neither party rated this 
particularly highly. 

Much more important was whether a musical director was 
willing to co-operate in a flexible way, by implication with 
the priest. The readiness of the priest to co-operate with the 
musical director would probably be another interesting field 
of study. One musical director, having indicated that he 
viewed the criterion with favour, added the cri de coeur. 'but 
not with too-trendy guitar-charged clergy'. 

The use of modern or popular music in worship was a 
particularly controversial issue within, as well as between, the 
parties. The clergy were not quite so strongly in favour as I 



had expected, while the musical directors took an even more 
cautious view. In the words of one: 'From with-it parsons etc., 
Good Lord deliver us'. The ability to attract and retain a choir 
implies actively developing the music, rather than merely 
accepting the status quo. Even in these days, with much 
emphasis on congregational music, this criterion was regarded 
by both parties as very important. Indeed it was considered to 
be more important than actually being able to train the choir 
effectively. A possible reason for this, at least among the 
clergy, is that a choir is seen as a way of encouraging both 
children and adults to become more actively involved in the 
life of the church, and even to draw in young and old from 
outside. Several directors and clergy at churches without 
choirs regarded the criterion as irrelevant, possibly because 
they had given up all hope of ever having a choir. 

In summary, the musical directors seemed to place more 
emphasis on the purely musical aspects of their work than did 
the clergy, resulting in a wider range of figures (from 1.25 to 
2.56, compared with 1.28 to 2.24). To put it another way, the 
directors were looking for specialist musicians, the clergy for 
all-rounders. However, there appeared to be further 
similarities between the figures of the two groups. They 
selected the same seven most important criteria (hymn 
playing, attract/retain choir, willingness to co-operate, 
practising Christian, children's choir training, adult choir 
training, liturgical awareness), even though they did not agree 
on the order of the seven. In both cases there was then a gap, 
followed by 'ordinary music' qualification. There was then a 
further gap followed by the seven remaining, less 
advantageous, criteria. Again the parties did not agree on the 
ordering of these. 



Musical Directors' Criteria for Selecting a Church 


(i) Good organ (ii) PC & MD with common approach to music — 1.7 

PC & MD with common approach to worship 

Church near to home 


Good choir 

Large congregation 
High salary 

PC has music qual. 

Not relevant 


• 1.9 L. 

■ 2.1 1 


■ 2.3 ■ 

■ 2.5 1 

-| 2.7 ■ 

-j 2.8 

^ 2.9 
- 3.0 


Very disadvantageous 




The Ideal Church 

So much for the ideal musical director — what about the ideal 
church? I asked the directors to give me their views on the 

• Church near to home; 

• Large congregation; 

• High salary; 

• Good choir; 

• Good organ; 

• Musically qualified priest-in-charge; 

• Priest-in-charge and director sharing a common approach 
to music; 

• Priest-in-charge and director sharing a common approach 
to worship. 

As before, the scale was from 1 (very advantageous), through 
2 (advantageous), 3 (not relevant) and 4 (disadvantageous) to 
5 (very disadvantageous). The average values are shown on 
page 111. 

The directors felt it important to see eye to eye with the 
clergy over music. Agreement over worship was seen as 
marginally less important, perhaps partly because the two 
parties were less likely to be drawn into direct conflict. The 
relative positions of 'good organ' and 'good choir' suggest 
that directors saw themselves primarily as organists. How- 
ever, this view was almost certainly coloured by the fact that 
many may never have had a choir to direct. 

A church near to home saves both time and money, and a 
director may want to get involved in the local community. It 
would probably also help in the recruitment of a choir. A 
quarter of the musical directors were aged 60 or over, and a 
significant proportion of these might well not have a car. For 
such people, the dearth of public transport on a Sunday 
makes a local church even more desirable. However, there 
was no statistical evidence of the over-sixties ranking this 
criterion higher than their younger counterparts. Directors 



gave little attention to the salary (and there was no evidence 
of it assuming greater importance after retirement). Equally 
irrelevant seemed to be the question of whether the church 
was 'successful' in terms of congregation size. The most 
controversial matter was the question of the desirability of 
the priest holding a music qualification, no fewer than one 
director in six viewing the prospect with misgivings. 

The directors' range of figures for these criteria in selecting 
a church was 1.70 to 2.87. However in the previous question, 
their range for a church selecting a musical director was 
markedly different (perceived as more important?) at 1.25 to 

Finally, one director added a further criterion, which was 
marked as 'very advantageous' — that the priest should be 
able to sing well and in tune. It would be interesting to know 
whether the absence of such an ability is regarded as a 
widespread problem. 

Hiring and Firing 

Questions relating to 'industrial relations' between priest and 
musical director were very topical at the time of the survey. 
The hiring and, more controversially, the firing of organists 
or choirmasters had previously been solely in the hands of 
the priest-in-charge. However in 1988, after many years' 
discussion by a working party of the RSCM, and 
subsequently by General Synod, an amendment to Canon 
B20 (Of the Hymns, Anthems and Music of the Church) was 
finally ratified by Parliament. It now read: 

In all [parish] churches and chapels . . . the functions of appointing 
any organist or choirmaster (by whatever name called), and of ter- 
minating the appointment . . . shall be exercisable by the minister 
with the agreement of the parochial church council, except that if the 
archdeacon of the archdeaconry in which the parish is situated, in the 
case of termination of an appointment, considers that the 
circumstances are such that the agreement of the parochial church 



council should be dispensed with, the archdeacon may direct 
accordingly. 1 

The working party had originally requested that the appoint- 
ment and its termination be in the hands of the PCC with the 
agreement of the priest, but this was found to be unaccept- 
able to General Synod because the powers of the clergy were 
being undermined. However, in the words of the chairman of 
the working party: 

On reflection we felt that [the measure as adopted] would bring about 
what we were so anxious to achieve, namely the involvement of other 
persons in addition to the Incumbent as a safeguard against summary 
dismissal on inadequate grounds. 2 

I therefore asked the clergy whether they felt that the 
appointment of a musical director should remain the sole 
ultimate responsibility of the priest-in-charge. Half voted 
'yes', slightly under half 'no', and one in twenty undecided. 
Of those voting 'yes', some indicated that this was for 
ultimate rather than sole ultimate responsibility. Another 
commented: 'impossible to answer without knowing the 
priest, but I know that / would want the last word!'. Taking 
advice is somewhat different from taking decisions, so I 
asked: 'From which of the following would you seek advice 
before appointing a new musical director?' 


Parties consulted by priest when appointing a new musical director 

Other clergy 


The choir (assuming there were one) 
Independent adviser (e.g. RSCM commissioner) 

-+ — 


-+ — 



— + 


-+ — 

Quoted by Vincent Waterhouse, 'Organists' contracts: law change brings in 

PCCs' in Church Music Quarterly, October 1988, p. 8. 

Dame Betty Ridley, 'The security of parish church organists' in Church 

Music Quarterly, October 1985, p. 20. 

In each case the chart shows the 'yes' responses as a percentage after 'don't 

know' responses have been excluded. 



Two thirds of clergy would consult their colleagues before 
making an appointment. (I gave as much scope as possible 
for a positive answer, by not specifying whether 'other 
clergy' meant the priest's assistant, his peers in other 
parishes, or the rural dean.) The PCC would be consulted in 
roughly four fifths of cases, although Canon B20 now 
requires the PCC's agreement in all cases. A quarter of the 
clergy would consult other parties: these included the 
Incorporated Association of Organists, other local organists, 
the priest's wife, referees (although I trust that no organist 
would be appointed without references being taken up!), the 
entire church membership, and the heads of music at local 
schools. Almost four priests in five would seek advice from 
three or more parties. However, as one clergyman wryly 
remarked: 'There is seldom a choice'. 

So what about the firing? I asked the clergy: 'In the event 
of dispute with the priest-in-charge, to which if any of the 
following do you think that a musical director should have 
the right of appeal?' 

Parties to whom priests would allow their musical directors 
the right of appeal 

Other clergy +^^_ 

Churchwardens +^^^^^^^^^^^_ 

The PCC +^^^^^^^_ 

Independent adviser (e.g. RSCM commissioner) +^^^^^^^^ m 
Others +^_ 

+ + + + + 

20 40 60 80% 

This seemed rather less popular. Only one priest in five 
would wish to involve fellow-clergy in a dispute, despite the 
fact that, once again, I gave as much scope as possible for a 
positive answer. This perhaps suggests a feeling of insecurity. 
Just over two thirds of the clergy would be willing for the 
churchwardens to be approached, but to what extent they 
would be allowed to overturn a clergy decision is unclear. 
Indeed one clergyman wrote: 'Would the appeal seek to 
resolve differences, or override the vicar's authority? If the 
latter, it would be an impossible situation.' The PCC was felt 



to be rather less suitable for this task than the wardens, 
possibly for reasons of maintaining confidentiality. However, 
in accordance with Canon B20, it would now have to be 
involved if the dispute led to a dismissal. Less popular was 
the prospect of bringing in an outsider, another possible sign 
of clergy insecurity. Of those clergy agreeing to an appeal 
elsewhere, some specified that it should be to deanery or 
diocesan level presumably, but not necessarily, to be heard by 
a senior member of the clergy. Others suggested a mutually 
acceptable conciliator. 

As before, I counted the number of different parties to whom 
appeal would be allowed. Just over half of the clergy would 
allow appeal to two or more parties, while a further third would 
allow appeal to one party. However, it is perhaps alarming that 
as many as one in ten of the clergy would not seem to allow 
appeal to anyone at all. Indeed in virtually all such cases, the 
response consistently took the form of 'no' rather than merely a 
'don't know'. 

It would have been fascinating to discover the extent to 
which disputes had actually arisen, and the success or 
otherwise of any appeals. 


The priests/ministers-in-charge are almost exclusively male, 
the musical directors predominantly so and marginally 
younger. There is a wide range of musical ability amongst 
musical directors, whilst that of the clergy is heavily 
concentrated at the lower end. Similarly, directors' know- 
ledge of theology is extremely limited. Here we see a 
fundamental difference in the outlook of our two parties, with 
very little common ground between them. Clergy seem to be 
more highly qualified academically than musical directors. 
Very few directors and none of the clergy have taken any 
formal qualification in church music, nor does either party 
see much value in such a qualification. However, clergy are 



unhappy with their theological-college training on the use of 
music in worship. 

There is little interest, especially among the clergy, in 
membership of church-related musical associations. Few of 
either group have attended courses (formal or informal) in 
church music, nor does there appear to be any great enthusi- 
asm for joining a discussion group on the subject. However, 
those that have attended courses have found them helpful. 

The two parties have different views on what is expected of 
directors, especially in the importance of directors' liturgical 
awareness, and involvement in non-traditional music. 


Somewhat mischievously, I asked the clergy how they felt 
about the level of funds provided by the Church of England 
for lay training in music. Half did not know, a third felt it 
was inadequate, a sixth felt it was about right, while one 
person felt it was too high. Only one respondent seemed to 
spot the deliberate catch in the question. He commented: T 
was unaware that the C of E. provided any!' 


O Faith Of England 1 

The Church and its People 

There is a saying that the greatest resource of any 
organisation is its personnel. Even from a secular standpoint, 
this is no less true of the Church, while most Christians 
would argue that God is scarcely likely to act other than 
through some human agency. 

In this chapter we look at church personnel, the groups that 
they form and, as a particular example of this, the choir. 2 


I included some initial questions of a more general nature, as 
their data enabled me to test whether my sample was 
representative of the Church of England as a whole. I 
wondered also whether the state of a particular aspect of a 
church's life might prove to be a pointer to the state of that 
church's music. In addition, I (or indeed someone else) might 
in due course wish to re-examine the survey data from a 
completely different viewpoint, in which case this informa- 
tion might well come in useful. 

First then, in what types of area were the churches 

1 T.A. Lacey, [in, for example,] The English Hymnal (New Edition) (OUP and 
Mowbray, London, 1933), No. 544. 

2 We will be looking at the musical director in Chapter 5. 


Area served by the church 

Scattered rural 

+^^^^ m 

Market town 


Large town 

+ H 

New town 


Large housing estate 

+^^ H 



Urban or inner city 

+ + 


--+ — 





Churches in a village comprised the largest single category, 
just under half the total. The last five categories may be 
termed non-rural, and comprised a third. 1 Closely associated 
with type of area will be the population in a church's 
catchment area. 

Population in church's catchment area 

1- 199 

200- 499 

500- 999 




Over 9999 

+ + + + + + + — 

3 6 9 12 15 18% 

This varied enormously: the smallest was 27, the greatest 
25,000, nonetheless one church in ten was responsible for 
10,000 souls, an extremely heavy pastoral burden. The 
average was 3402. While these estimates by the clergy are 
less likely to be accurate than official statistics — averages in 
1987 for the Oxford Diocese 2 and for the Church of England 3 
were 2358 and 2897 respectively — the level of agreement 
still suggests a reasonably representative sample. 

1 The precise figure was 32.1%. This is in reasonable agreement with the 
corresponding figure of 30.5% calculated from information provided by 
Francis, and taken from a survey of more than 7000 churches (Leslie J. 
Francis and David W. Lankshear, Continuing in the Way (National Society 
[Church of England] for Promoting Religious Education, London, 1991)). It 
provides evidence of the representative nature of the present sample. 

2 Oxford Diocesan Year Book, 1988 (Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, 
Oxford, 1987). 

Church Statistics: Some facts and figures about the Church of England 
(Central Board of Finance of the Church of England, London, 1989). 



Next I asked the Church of England's standard questions 
on congregation size, namely the numbers of Easter and 
Christmas communicants, and electoral roll figures. How- 
ever, communicant figures under-estimate attendance by 
ignoring non-communicants and those attending non-euchar- 
istic services; conversely festival figures tend to be 
abnormally high because of the number of casual attenders. 
Furthermore, electoral roll figures will depend on how 
rigorously the priest allows only active church members to 
join. 1 




Easter 1987 

Christmas 1987 


0- 9 
10- 19 
20- 49 




50- 99 





Over 499 



20 30% 


20 30% 

10 20 


In general, the charts do not make encouraging reading. Two 
fifths of the churches had fewer than 50 Easter communicants, 
and one church in thirteen had less than twenty. The range was 
enormous: from less than ten to over 500, with an average of 
96. At Christmas the average was 120, but again with one 
church in thirteen reporting fewer than twenty communicants. 
Larger churches seemed to do better at Christmas than at 
Easter. The largest figure reported was 700. We will be 
looking at sizes of congregation at normal services on page 
150. Another somewhat disturbing statistic is the fact that one 
church in eight reported fewer than twenty people on its 
electoral roll. Since those on the roll are probably bearing 
most of the costs, not least repair of the fabric, there must be 
some doubt as to how long the present situation can continue 
at these churches. The average was 96. The averages per 
church in 1987 for the Oxford Diocese and for the Church of 
England were respectively 80 and — quite fortuitously — 96. 

1 Leslie J. Francis, Rural Anglicanism (Collins, London, 1985), p. 22. 



Groups Within The Church 

Three indicators of the spiritual life of a church are the 
creche, the young people's group, and the adult bible- 
study/discussion group. A regular Sunday School or creche 
was held at three fifths of the churches. The situation at those 
churches is shown below. 

Church creches 

Number of 

1 +^_ 













4- 7 


--+ — 


Over 15 


+ + 







— +- 

A third of the creches had between two and three leaders, a 
further third between four and seven. The average was four. 
Just under half of the creches had between 20 and 49 
children, whilst a further quarter had between ten and 
nineteen. The average was 28. A regular young people's 
group was considerably less common, however, being held at 
only a third of the churches. 


0- 1 
2- 3 

people's groups 

Number of leaders 

1- 4 

Number of young people 

4- 7 

— + 




— + — Over 49 



+ + + + 

10 20 30 

+ + + + + — 

10 20 30 40% 

Slightly over half the groups had between two and three 
leaders. The average was three. Membership seemed to be 
smaller than that of creches, in addition to there being fewer 
of them. The average was nineteen. 

A regular adult Bible-study or Christian discussion group 
was more common than a creche, taking place at, or being 
available to, members of three fifths of the churches taking 
part in the survey. 


Bible study groups 

+ + + + 

20 40 60% 

Roughly a third of the groups met without a ministerial 
leader. In some cases he/she attended, but not as a leader. 
Over half the groups had between two and four lay leaders; 
the average was four. It is perhaps reassuring that not a single 
group was without some measure of lay leadership. A priest 
discouraging lay leadership of this form might also be 
unwilling to delegate responsibility to others such as, for 
example, the musical director. There would appear to be a 
reasonably high level of general participation in these events, 
the average number of non-leaders being 26. 

Although church policy is normally decided by the PCC, 
there may be subcommittees reporting to it. These may 
include a worship committee and/or one specifically to 
consider music. A quarter of churches taking part in the sur- 
vey had a worship committee. It would have been interesting 
to know whether clergy would in general be in favour of such 
a group; the presence of one suggests an openness in decision 
making. However, less than one church in ten had a working 
group devoted to music. Again it is unclear whether clergy 
and/or musical directors would be hostile to such an idea. 
Perhaps they could see nothing to be gained by the presence 
of such a group, or possibly no-one would be prepared to 
serve on it, or even simply no-one had thought of it. 

The Choir 

The music or worship committees may discuss the music, but 
it is the choir that actually has to take the lead in singing it. I 
asked both parties whether there was a regular choir, drawing 



their attention to the definition that had been adopted (page 
88). According to the clergy, 55% of churches had a choir: 
the musical directors reported 60%. [ Four out of five choirs 
were robed rather than unrobed. 

Number of members of choir 

2- 4 

+ H 

5- 9 




Over 29 

+ — 

5 10 15 20% 

The average number of members per choir was sixteen 
(seven male, nine female); for the same choirs three years 
earlier (i.e. excluding those that had since disbanded) the 
figure had been fifteen. Here at least, the status quo had been 
maintained. However, for every 100 choirs in existence at the 
time of the survey, there had three years earlier been 114 
according to the musical directors, 109 according to the 
clergy. This represents a substantial reduction in so short a 

The average size of choir found by Hill 2 in 1982 at RSCM 
churches was 22, compared with the sixteen found here. This 
too implies a reduction in choir strength since 1982, 3 
although it may simply be the effect of the differing types of 
church in the two surveys. Hill compares his own findings 
for the relative proportions of boys, girls, men and women 
with those cited in Temperley 4 , which in turn had been taken 
from Reports of the Chief Commissioner of the School of 
English Church Music (now RSCM). I have extended Hill's 

1 Since the clergy figures included those churches where there was no musical 
director and, by implication, no choir either, the agreement seems 

2 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), pp. 13, 20. 

3 On page 132 we look at evidence of an unusually large number of resigna- 
tions of musical directors at about that time. 

4 Nicholas Temperley The Music of the English Parish Church (CUP, 
Cambridge, 1979), p. 337. 



table to include the corresponding figures from my survey 
and those inferred from the ACCMUS statistical report. 

Composition Of Choirs 
Year Boys Girls Men Women Sample Author 






1951 54.7 






1982 24.5 






1988/9 19.2 






1988 17.7 





Cooper 2 

The proportion of males, and boys in particular, seems to be 
continuing to decline. One might ask to what extent this 
decline is being caused by admitting girls into a previously 
all-male choir (a source of contention already noted on page 
21). So how is the traditional all-male choir faring? Seven 
were reported in the survey, some 6% of the total. Their 
average membership figure was 19, compared with 16 for 
choirs as a whole, so in this respect the all-male choir was 
doing well. Closer inspection of the data, however, suggests 
a less healthy situation. One choir had shown significant 
growth, two had shown little change, whilst four had 
significantly declined. Subject to the caveat of limited data, 
the all-male choir therefore seems to be on the wane. 
To what extent are choirs an aging population? 

Reports of the SECM Chief Commissioner, English Church Music 20 
(September-November 1949), p. 14; 20 (December 1949-February 1950), 
p. 35; 22 (June-November 1951), p. 10; 22 (December 1951-February 
1952), p. 63. 

Jacqui Cooper, Music in Parish Worship (Central Board of Finance of the 
Church of England, London, [dated] 1990 [but not published until 1992]), 
pp. 28-29. (Cooper's figures include those in singing groups as well as those 
in choirs.) 


Age distribution of choir members 1 



in 10 yrs 
-19 yrs 
-29 yrs 
-39 yrs 
-49 yrs 
-59 yrs 
-69 yrs 
yrs or 










— +— 























— +— 





- + 








~ + 




The age group of highest membership, for both males and 
females, is 10-19, followed by the under-tens. Membership 
falls away in the twenties, possibly as a result of leaving 
home and setting up one's own, but picks up a little in middle 
age. I wonder why this renewal of interest seems more 
pronounced for women than for men — the former returning 
after having had children, while the latter are still developing 
their career perhaps? There is then a gradual decline. Only in 
the highest age range do males (marginally) exceed females. 
This may be because the male voice seems to 'wear' better 
with age. An alternative explanation may be that the singing 
careers of those over 70 would in many cases have begun in 
the days when all-male choirs were much more common, 
resulting in a disproportionate number of men at the top of 
the scale. The average age of the males was 31, that of 
females 29. 

On page 165 I assess the levels of ability of choirs accord- 
ing to the anthems that they were reported as singing. One 
choir in seven did not hold practices at all. 

The traditional seating position of the choir has in certain 
quarters given rise to accusations of elitism. In other cases, 
the choir is simply so far away from the congregation that it 
cannot be heard. I therefore asked whether the choir sat close 
to the congregation, or apart (for example in the chancel or 
gallery). Furthermore, the increasing use of nave altars can 
leave a chancel choir appearing to be isolated. Therefore in 
certain churches having the choir close to the congregation 

1 Based on 1704 members in 108 choirs. 



may be beneficial. This arrangement was in operation in just 
over a third of those churches with choirs. I also wanted to 
know whether the seating arrangement had recently 
changed — it certainly had. In as short a space as three years, 
one choir in eleven had been moved. In all cases but one, the 
move had been such that the choir was now located near the 
congregation. It would have been interesting to know 
whether the moves had the whole-hearted co-operation of the 
choirs in question, and whether in retrospect the moves had 
been generally perceived as beneficial. However, limits on 
the size of the questionnaires prevented investigation of these 
questions. Although the reasons for bringing the choir to the 
congregation may be strong and in accord with current 
thinking on worship, other factors such as the church 
architecture, acoustics, and 'visibility' between choir and 
organist, may sometimes make the matter less clear-cut than 
it might at first appear. 

The financial aspects, from a church's point of view, of 
running a choir will be considered on page 137. However, 
weddings often provide external income for the members of 
the choir, quite apart from the additional opportunities for 
singing. I asked directors to specify the numbers of paid and 
unpaid weddings per year, both for adult members and for the 
child members. Just under two thirds of choirs included 
adults who sang at weddings at least occasionally. Of these, 
only a third were not paid, with one in five receiving 
payment for ten or more weddings per year. The total number 
of weddings (paid or unpaid) ranged from one to twenty: the 
average was six. Similarly, two thirds of choirs included 
children who sang at weddings at least occasionally. Unlike 
the adults, however, the children of only one in twelve choirs 
were not paid for weddings. On the other hand, more than a 
third received payment for ten or more weddings per year. 
The total number of weddings (paid or unpaid) attended by 
child choir members per year ranged from 1 to 81, with an 
average of eleven. 



Although it is often the choir that derives the main benefit 
from affiliation to the Royal School of Church Music, this is 
strictly speaking held by the church. Some 42% of the 
churches were affiliated. 


There is a reasonable amount of evidence to suggest that the 
churches involved in the survey are representative of the 
Church of England as a whole. Despite some disturbingly 
low electoral-roll figures and the absence of a young- 
people's group from two thirds of the churches, roughly three 
fifths were nonetheless able to sustain a creche and/or adult 
study group. 

Roughly one choir in eleven had disbanded in the three 
years preceding the survey, although the remaining choirs 
had been able to sustain their membership at around the 
sixteen level. A long-term fall in the numbers of boys in 
choirs appeared to be continuing and, as a particular example 
of this, there was evidence of difficulties in sustaining 
traditional all-male choirs. 


He Who Would Valiant Be 1 

The Church and its Musical Director 

After considering certain groups within the church, we now 
turn to someone who is — or should be — one of its key 
members. What exactly is the role of the musical director? 
We look at the circumstances surrounding the original 
appointment, and investigate the frequency with which 
musical directors and priests come and go. We encounter the 
financial aspects of the work, namely his/her own salary, the 
budget for new music, and the expenses associated with 
running a choir. We consider also the extent to which the 
musical director determines musical policy. 

Comings and Goings 

First, how is a musical director recruited? 

How did you hear of the post of musical director? 

Ch. Times / Ch. of Eng. Newspaper +^ m 

A music periodical + B 

Other press +^ 

A friend + ^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^am 

As asst . organist / choir member + ^^^^^^^^h 

As a member of the congregation + ^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^a^m 

Mus . dir. is priest-in-charge + ^^^ 

Mus . dir. is asst. priest +^ 

Other +__________- 

5 10 15 20 25% 

Fewer than one in twenty of the musical directors had been 
recruited by external advertisement. The largest single 

1 John Bunyan et al, [in, for example,] The English Hymnal (New Edition) 
(OUP and Mowbray, London, 1933), No. 402. 



recruitment area seemed to be the congregational pews — 
almost twice as common as the choir stalls — or from being 
an apprentice to the predecessor. This could imply an 
element of arm-twisting in the appointment. I mentioned on 
page 93 those in the seventh category, the priest-in-charge, 
but the assistant priests made an unexpected group. Had there 
been more of them, a comparison with lay musical directors 
would have made an interesting study. Many of those in the 
'other' category were approached by the church; others were 
or had been organist at another church, and were approached 
via their own vicar. 

Next I wanted to discover the fierceness of competition for 
these posts. 

Was there more than one suitable candidate for the post of musical 

Musical director' s view Priest-in-charge' s view 

Yes +^^h +^ m 

Don ' t know +^^^^^^ m +^^^^^^^^^^^^^_ 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50 60% 10 20 30 40 50 60% 

It is perhaps surprising that there was a higher percentage of 
'don't know' responses amongst the clergy as employers than 
amongst the directors as employees. This may be caused by 
the director having been at the church longer than the priest, 
or the fact that the director would take a greater interest in 
the subject. However it is clear that both parties agreed that 
there had been more than one suitable candidate in only a 
very few cases — one in six in the view of the directors, worse 
than one in seven in the view of the clergy. Such figures 
could have serious implications for the availability of the 
next generation of musical directors. One of the directors was 
magnanimous enough to admit that there had been another 
suitable candidate — her husband. 

When asking the musical director how long he/she had 
been in post, I felt it only fair to ask the priest-in-charge the 
same question. 


For how many years have you been at this church? 

As musical director 

As priest-in-charge 

0- 4 

5- 9 


+^^^^ m 




+ H 




Over 39 



+ + + + + + + + + + + + — 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30 40 50% 

Whilst a third of the directors had held their post for more 
than ten years, only a fifth of clergy had done so. The 
averages were 10.2 and 7.0 years respectively. Although an 
average figure for organists was not given in Hill's 1982 
survey, 1 I estimate it to have been 9.6, remarkably close to 
the figure of 10.2 found here. In the occasional leaflet Parish 
and People, edited by a group of clergy in the Oxford 
Diocese, the following text appears: 

The Minister & the Organist — A Study in Role Conflict could be the 
title for a post-graduate's thesis. To begin with, a survey would be 
likely to reveal that the organist has seen the back of several vicars 
(not only at the altar) — seemingly he goes on for ever. His seat on the 
organ stool is more permanent than that of the man with the 'real 
actual and corporeal possession of the vicarage'. The parson may 
have his freehold, but the organist may have a stranglehold on the 
parish. 2 

These are strong words, no doubt written from bitter personal 
experience. However, there is a simple explanation of this 
situation. In the course of their professional working lives, 
both priest and musical director may expect to move from 
one job to another, not infrequently through promotion. In 
the case of the director, unless there is associated with the job 
change a geographical relocation as well, there is no intrinsic 
reason why he/she will not be able to continue as director at 
the same church. On the other hand, a change of job for a 
priest almost always involves a change of church. It is 
therefore only to be expected that the turnover of clergy will 
be faster than that of musical directors. Indeed, a larger 

1 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 

Music, Addington, 1983), p. 41. 



2 'The Lost Accord' in Parish and People, 27 (1986), [p. 2]. 


differential than that actually found would not have been 
entirely surprising. 

With the words of Parish and People still ringing in our 
ears, we must now start to tread more warily as we enter 
slightly more dangerous territory. 

How many new priests- How many new musical 

in-charge have been directors have been 

appointed during your appointed during your time 

time as musical director? as priest-in-charge? 




+^^ m 

3 or 

+^^^^ m 

+^^ m 


+ + + + + 

+ + + + + + 

10 20 30 40% 

10 20 30 40 50% 

Just under half the directors had always served the same 
priest-in-charge at their present church. However, since more 
directors had witnessed the appointment of three or more 
new priests than had witnessed the appointment of two, it 
seems reasonable to infer that a significant proportion had 
seen the arrival of four or more. At well over half the 
churches, the current priest-in-charge had never appointed a 
new musical director. It then seemed sensible to compare 
individuals' length of service with the number of new 
appointments of their 'other half. Naturally, in general the 
number of new appointments of the other half depended on 
how long an individual had been at the church. However, 
there were some exceptions in the form of longstanding 
partnerships: one musical director had served only two 
priests in over 29 years' service, and a certain priest had 
needed to appoint only two musical directors in over 39 
years. More worrying were the cases of the musical directors 
who had seen the arrival (and by inference the departure) of 
at least three priests-in-charge in less than ten years, and the 
priest who had needed to appoint four new musical directors 
in the same period. 

I also wanted to know how many years' experience each 
director had acquired before taking up the present appoint- 
ment. I was then able to obtain an approximate measure of 



the total number of years' experience as a musical director, 
by combining the figures in the left-hand chart with the 
number of years' service at his/her present church. This result 
is shown in the right-hand chart. (The assumption that no 
significant further time was spent as musical director at a 
third church is probably valid in most cases — especially in 
view of the high proportion of musical directors who had 
never held another appointment at all.) 

What is the longest period 

that you have served as Total experience 

musical director at any as a musical 

other church? director 



0- 4 



5- 9 












Over 39 



■ + l 





+ + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30% 

At slightly over half the churches, this was their musical 
director's first appointment, and at only one church in nine 
had a director been appointed who already held ten or more 
years' experience. The total experience of well over half of 
the musical directors was less than ten years (the average was 
13), a surprisingly short period in view of the fact that as 
many as one in twenty of the directors had accumulated some 
forty years' experience. Moreover, Hill's survey 1 only a few 
years earlier revealed significantly higher total lengths of 
service, the average then being 17 years. We must not draw 
any hasty conclusions. However, we cannot escape the fact 
that a particularly large number of directors took up their first 
appointment less than ten years before the present survey 
(1988-89), presumably to replace others who had resigned. 
We have already noted that The Alternative Service Book was 
published in 1980. 
Finally in this section we turn to the question of contracts. 

1 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), p. 41. 



Much has been written in recent years extolling the benefits 
of giving the musical director a written contract. 

The Royal College of Organists' contract has now been superseded 
by a more detailed and comprehensive document subject to the 
provisions of Canon B20. 1 . . . [It] has been issued on the authority of 
the Incorporated Association of Organists, the Incorporated Society 
of Musicians, the RSCM, and the Legal Adviser to the General 
Synod. [It had also the authority of the RCO, although for some 
reason this was not stated.] Whether or not organists do in fact have a 
contract as of now, we strongly urge all concerned to enter into this 
new agreement which we believe to be much more satisfactory than 
the old one and in the best interests of all parties. 2 

The Legal Advisory Commission of the General Synod has advised 
that it is essential for the appointment of an organist to be subject to 
an agreement in writing which must reflect the present law in regard 
to appointment and dismissal. It is important for the sake of a 
satisfactory understanding on both sides for this advice to be heeded 
and we recommend that all organists... insist on the terms of their 
appointment being confirmed in writing. 3 

Furthermore, respondents to an Administry survey reported that 
giving the musical director a written job description removed a 
number of 'pockets of confusion and unease'. 4 1 wondered what 
was happening in practice: 

What is the nature of your present contract as musical director? 

1 Local' written; non-fixed term + m 

1 Local' written; fixed term + m 

Standard written; non-fixed term + m 

Standard written; fixed term + 

No written contract +^m^m^m^m^m^m^m^mm 

+ + + + +- 

20 40 60 80% 

Only one in six of the musical directors had any form of 
written contract. However, we must allow the last word (so to 
speak) to the director whose description of her contract was 
simply: 'Until death!' 

1 Seepage 113. 

2 Lionel Dakers 'A revised form of agreement for organists and choir 
directors' in Church Music Quarterly, January 1987, p. 13. 

3 Organists' Guide to Employment, (Incorporated Society of Musicians, 
London, 1990), p. 1. 

4 A Joyful Noise, (Resource Paper 84:7), (Administry, St Albans, 1984), p. 6. 



Matters of Finance 

Closely associated with contracts are matters financial, in 
which the director of music is likely to be involved at least to 
some extent, for example his/her own salary, the budget for 
new music, and the expenses associated with running a choir. 
(There will also be the expenses of organ maintenance, but 
we will not consider these further here.) 

I asked directors to state their annual salary, including 
expenses where applicable but excluding fees, offered to 
them. The question was so phrased because directors often 
refuse to accept some or all of their nominal salary. Despite 
this, the high incidence of the figure zero suggests that the 
question was answered by many in terms of salary received 
rather than salary offered. We may, however, be confident 
that the salary received was not greater than the figures in the 
table. (Assistant priests serving as musical director were 
excluded from the data.) The salary for two fifths of the posts 
was zero, whilst for only about a fifth was it greater than 
£500. The average (excluding one exceptionally high salary 1 
of £9800) was £282. One director reported receiving no 
payment, but conceded that he received 'an ex gratia capon 
at Christmas'. From the salary and data in other parts of the 
questionnaire I next estimated the payment per attendance. 2 

Payment offered to musical directors 

Per year 



Per attendance (£) 

1- 99 
100- 199 
200- 499 

Over 9 , 


500- 999 


Over 1999 


+ + + + +- 

+ + + + + 

10 20 30 40% 

This particular post included considerable pastoral responsibility. 
I arbitrarily assumed that: if the director was involved in N services per 
month, after allowance for holidays, this would amount to 11 xN services 
per year; also, if choir practices were held, the director would be involved in 
45 practices per year, a total of (11 x N) + 45 attendances. 



If the director was offered payment at all, it was most 
unlikely to be less than £2.00 or more than £10.00 per 
attendance. The wide variation, namely a factor of five, 
almost certainly represents not only the differences in skills 
required for different appointments, but also the varying 
financial strengths of individual churches. Both parties were 
asked their views on the adequacy of the director's salary. 
Many did not directly answer this question, but simply wrote 
the word 'voluntary' beside it. One director went further and 
wrote: 'I don't think church musicians should be paid'. 

Views on adequacy of payment offered to musical directors 

Too low 

Musical director' s view 

Priest-in-charge' s view 

About right 
Too high 



+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + — 

10 20 30 40 50 60% 10 20 30 40 50 60% 

There was remarkable consistency in the views of the two 
parties, with almost a third feeling that the salary was too 
low. One director who ticked the 'about right' box added: 'It 
is right because obviously the church cannot afford more, but 
in worldly terms it's senseless'. Another, ticking the same 
box, added that it would be far too low for anyone relying on 
the income. Another stated that his salary had been 
unchanged for six years, but it could, if he asked, be 
increased. Then were added the words: 'Yes I will!'. I next 
examined the directors' perceptions of the adequacy of their 
salary in terms of the salary itself. (The post at £9800 was 
excluded from this particular study, although in fact both 
parties at that church felt the salary to be about right.) 

Payment Offfered To Musical Directors 
Compared With Their Perceptions Of Its Adequacy 

Average annual payment Average payment per attendance 
'Too low' £280 " £3.00 

'About right' £300 £3.24 

'Too high' £265 £6.00 



An increase of less than 10% seemed to be sufficient to change 
directors' feelings on salary from inadequacy to adequacy, and 
we may conclude that the difference was more of attitudes than 
the level of payment itself. The results where the payment was 
perceived to be too high are based on only two appointments of 
considerably differing nature, and should be treated with 
caution. In an earlier question (page 111), musical directors 
were invited to give their views on various criteria that a 
director might apply in deciding whether to accept a church 
appointment, ranging from 1 (very advantageous), through 2 
(advantageous), 3 (not relevant), and so on. The average figure 
of those who felt that their present salary was too low was 2.20, 
compared with 2.58 for all the others. Therefore, those who felt 
their present salary was too low were more concerned about 
salary in general. This would seem to confirm the view that 
perception of adequacy of salary depends more on the attitude 
of the individual than on the level of payment. 

In its survey of church music, Administry found contrast- 
ing views on the paying of church musicians: 1 

Why should organists be paid sums of money? We don't pay Sunday 
School teachers, treasurers or churchwardens. We expect these people 
to offer their time and talents free. 

A full- or part-time salaried music director can give real vision to a 
church because he has time to plan, and seek God's face on this 
matter. I feel that in a larger church, a salaried music director is a 
must — the Bible lays stress in this area (see 1 Chronicles [6:31-32]); 
so should we. 

Less controversial, although perhaps no easier to find, will 
be the funds for new music for a church. While a quarter of 
churches spent over £100 annually on this, nearly a half 
spent less than £5. In many cases, therefore, either no music 
at all was being introduced or some illicit photocopying was 
taking place. Equally revealing was the budget per member 
of the electoral roll. 

1 A Joyful Noise, Resource Paper 84:7 (Administry, St. Albans, 1984), p. 6. 


Annual music budget 

0- 4 

5- 9 

10- 19 

20- 49 

50- 99 



500 and 














Per member of 
roll (Pence) 



_+ — 




- 4 + 

- 9 + 

- 19 + H 

- 49 +^^^^_ 

- 99 +^^^_ 
-199 +^^^_ 
-499 + H 

and + B 

re + + + 

10 20 











30 40% 

At almost half the churches, the annual expenditure was less 
than two pence per member of the electoral roll, a truly 
appalling situation. To take an example, a church buying a 
replacement set of hymn books might, with a grant from the 
publishers, have expected at the time of the survey to pay 
around £3 per words-only book. On this basis, the new set 
would take the entire music budget for the next 300 years! 

Another item on the accounts will be the expenses of 
running the choir. The children were paid at two fifths of the 
churches, the adults at only one in fifty. The paying of certain 
children and not others was very rare indeed, and did not 
occur at all in the case of adults. This is unlike some churches, 
notably in London, where a professional quartet forms the 
core of an otherwise volunteer choir. I asked whether the choir 
initiated its own fund-raising and, if so, whether it had full 
control over the funds. This question raises several issues. 

From the point of view of the church treasurer, a choir is a 
source of expense, however beautiful its sound may be. If the 
choir is enthusiastic, it will be wanting to buy new music and, 
if robed, there is also the expense of maintaining the robes. 
Does the choir attempt to cover these expenses or does it 
believe that its enriching of the church's worship is 
contribution enough? Over three quarters of the choirs did 
not undertake their own fund-raising (despite generous 
contributions perhaps from individual members). By 
implication, they were not corporately contributing to church 
funds either. It is possible that, if they did, expressions of 
resentment sometimes heard against choirs, especially in 
evangelical circles, might be dispelled. One director, however, 



reported that the choir did indeed assist in raising general 
church funds. Of the remaining choirs that did undertake fund- 
raising, two thirds had full control of the funds. Of those that 
did not, there were instances of choir members feeling 
resentful at 'their' money being controlled by non-members 
(for example, the parochial church council). However, this in 
turn would cause concern within the church that the choir 
apparently saw itself as an autonomous body wishing to be 
outside the normal decision-making processes. At one church 
where the choir did not undertake fund-raising, the musical 
director commented: 'I am also the church treasurer!' 

Matters of Policy 

Before turning our attention to matters of specifically musical 
policy, let us look at the church's official decision-making 
body, namely the parochial church council, and the role that 
the musical director may or may not play within it. 

In these days of increasing lay involvement, few people qualify more 
for inclusion on the PCC than the organist. Furthermore the 
opportunity which his presence provides for deepening the relationship 
and understanding between him, the incumbent, the churchwardens 
and the other parishioners can be of great benefit to the life of the 
church — and prevent those misunderstandings which all too often 
appear in the press. 1 

The tradition that an organist who is an employee should not be a 
member of the PCC is an unhelpful one. 2 

So I asked the directors: 

Are you, as musical director, a member of the PCC? 

Yes, ex officio as mus . dir. + B 
Yes, in some other capacity + B 
No +. 

+ + + + + + + — 

10 20 30 40 50 60% 

Nigel McCulloch (Archdeacon of Sarum, quoted by Lionel Dakers), 'From 
the Director', Church Music Quarterly, April 1983, p. 3. 
In Tune With Heaven, Report of the Archbishops' Commission on Church 
Music (Church House Publishing, and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 
1992), p. 245. 



In only one church in twenty was the director a member of 
PCC (or its equivalent) ex officio. In only a third was he/she on 
the PCC at all. This seems rather discouraging. In particular, I 
wondered whether the response of one director: 'No, thank 
God' was perhaps the private view of many others. In half of 
the churches, the musical director had never been invited to 
serve on the PCC. This too is disappointing, since it suggests a 
lack of desire on the part of others that the director become 
involved in anything other than purely musical responsibilities. 

When I asked the clergy and musical directors whether they 
felt that in general musical directors should be a member of 
the PCC ex officio, the clergy were equally split for and 
against, with one in six undecided. The directors were 
marginally more in favour, namely three out of five, with one 
third against, and the remainder undecided. Neither party 
therefore was particularly keen: some clergy may possibly 
look upon the musical director as a rival, whilst the director 
may see the PCC as one of the 'other church activities' for 
which there was no great enthusiasm (page 108). 

I wondered to what extent the director was allowed to play 
his/her part in determining the church's musical policy, 
especially in the light of the following comment. 

In an ideal situation the choice and use of hymns is a matter of joint 
concern and a joint responsibility, something which should apply to 
all aspects of the work of clergy and musicians. 1 

So I asked: 

Who generally chooses the congregational hymns/songs? 2 

Musical director's view 
Clergy alone + B 
MD alone + B 
Clergy & MD + t 
Workg . group + B 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30 40 50% 

Lionel Dakers, Choosing and Using Hymns (Mowbray, London, 1985), p. 4. 
In this and the following two questions, I have excluded from the musical 
directors' data those priests-in-charge who were acting as their own musical 



There was general agreement that the priest-in-charge was 
solely responsible for the choice of hymns in about half of 
the churches. The musical director was solely responsible in 
roughly one seventh of cases, and some sort of corporate 
decision was taken in the remainder. The musical directors 
need in no way feel aggrieved over this relative absence of 
decision-making on their part: a priest may wish to devote a 
service to a specific theme, and choose the hymns accord- 
ingly. In any case, choosing hymns carefully is a very time- 
consuming task! Let us reserve judgment for the moment. 

A survey undertaken by Administry 1 reported four other 
ways of selecting hymns. These were: 'Songs of Praise' 
services (as in the television programme, the person choosing 
the hymn explains the reasons for the choice); choices in 
advance (via a 'favourite hymns' box); spontaneous choices 
from the congregation (although other churches in the same 
survey pointed out that this negated the objectivity of 
liturgical worship); and spontaneous leadership from the 
congregation (in which a member can start a song on the spur 
of the moment — this was not felt to be suitable aesthetically 
in other than the merest handful of cases; there could also be 
problems of pitch). 

Next I asked: 

Who generally chooses the tunes for these hymns/songs? 

Clergy alone 
MD alone 

Musical director's view 

Priest-in-charge' s view 

Clergy & MD 
Workg . group 

+ + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 

+ + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 

There seems to be considerably less agreement over who 
chooses the tunes. It is perhaps surprising, and certainly less 
than satisfactory, that the clergy seem to be in total control in 
as many as about one case in six. Given the small number of 
working groups for music or for worship (page 122), it is not 
surprising that they seem to play so limited a part. 
Respondents may well have had difficulty deciding which of 

1 A Joyful Noise, (Resource Paper 84:7), (Administry, St Albans, 1984), p. 8. 



two boxes to tick. For example, a musical director might 
actually choose a tune, but informally ask the priest for his 
agreement. The director would therefore tick the second box, 
the priest the third. 
Finally in this group of questions I asked: 

Who generally chooses all the other music sung at regular services? 

Clergy alone 
MD alone 
Clergy & MD 
Workg . group 
Not applic- 

There was clear agreement that, in just under half the 
churches, the musical director was given full control over the 
other music and, in about half of the remaining cases, the 
decision was a joint one. However, at one church in ten, the 
clergy had full jurisdiction. I find this unsatisfactory, and 
wonder whether the directors did not wish to take part in the 
decision-making or were simply not allowed to. Alternative- 
ly, however, the director and priest might be of such a single 
mind on matters musical that there would be no need for the 
former to be consulted at all. Was this really so? 

Have the musical director and priest-in-charge an agreed policy on 
music in worship? 

Yes: Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 
Formal +^^^^^ +^^^^^^^^^^ 

No +^_ + H 

Don't know+ B + m 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50 60 70% 10 20 30 40 50 60% 

It is encouraging that nine out of ten of both parties felt that 
they had an agreed policy with their 'other half on the use of 
music in worship. However, the size of the discrepancy 
between the figures on formal agreement is a little surprising. 
In some of the churches where the parties did not know 
whether they agreed, one or other of them had only recently 
arrived. In the others, I hope that the parties subsequently 
gave the matter some thought. Perhaps they even got around 
to discussing it! 



This brings us to a related matter. Do the musical director 
and priest work as a team or independently of each other? As 
a pointer to this, I asked them about the meetings held 
between them. 

How often do the musical director and priest-in-charge hold 
meetings to discuss the music? 1 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 
Never +^^^^^ m +! 

Rarely +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m + B 

Monthly +^^^^^^^^ +, 

Fortnightly +^_ 
Weekly +^^^^_ 

+ + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 

At just over half the churches, meetings either did not take 
place at all or at best took place only rarely. However, at no 
fewer than two thirds of the churches where the response was 
'never', the musical director would welcome one. In the case 
of the priests-in-charge the figure was even higher, at three 
quarters. Perhaps I ought to have written to the priest and 
musical director at those churches where both wanted to hold 
meetings, but had never done so! 

How long is a typical meeting? 

1- 9 mins . 

Musical director's 


Priest-in-charge' s view 

10-19 mins. 

— +- 

20-39 mins. 
Over 39 mins. 


+^^^^ m 

+ + + + 

10 20 30 

+ + + + 

10 20 30% 

There was some disagreement over the length of meetings, in 
particular the first two categories, probably because any 
meetings roughly 10 minutes long could equally well fit into 
either category. However, there was a good measure of 
agreement over the average duration, namely 21 minutes 
estimated from the musical directors' figures, and 24 from 
those of the clergy. One director complained that the normal 
'meeting' comprised being given the hymn list on a scrap of 
paper three minutes before the service. On the other hand, 

1 It was of course necessary to exclude, from both the priests' data and the 
musical directors', those priests-in-charge who served as their own musical 



one priest asked whether the time was inclusive or exclusive 
of drinks. 

Total time spent per year in meetings between musical director and 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 


than 1 hr . 
than 2 hrs . 
than 5 hrs . 
than 10 hrs. 
than 20 hrs. 
surs or more 














--+ — 



— +— 




20 h< 








I estimated the total time spent per year in meetings between 
the two parties by combining the previous two sets of 
results. 1 Given the uncertainties, the charts are reasonably 
similar. The averages were 5.3 and 5.5 hours from the 
musical directors' figures and those of the clergy respectively 
— consistent but depressingly low. Moreover, these figures 
do not include the cases where there was no meeting at all. If, 
however, these cases are included, we are confronted by even 
bleaker figures. According to the musical directors, there was 
either no meeting at all, or the total annual duration was an 
hour or less, at more than two fifths of the churches. 
According to the clergy, it was more than a third. In other 
words, at such churches there seems to be virtually no 
communication between clergy and musical director of even 
a semi-formal nature. Indeed it is arguable whether a 
discussion lasting 'between one and nine minutes', consti- 
tutes a formal meeting at all. 

In those cases where a priest-in-charge is sharing pastoral 
responsibility, 'staff meetings' often take place weekly, with 
a total annual duration of 100 hours or more. The times spent 
with musical directors contrast sharply with such a figure. In 
many cases not only does the priest not have any assistant, he 
also has to spread himself over several churches. It is 
therefore all the more distressing that clearly the musical 

1 The figure for the range 'over 39 minutes' was arbitrarily chosen to be 45. 
Particularly difficult was 'rarely', which was equally arbitrarily chosen to be 
three times per year. 



director is not seen as a colleague with whom matters, not 
necessarily of a directly pastoral nature, can be discussed. 

How helpful do you find these meetings? 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 

Very unhelpful + m + 

Unhelpful + m + 

Neutral +^^^_ +^_ 

Helpful +^^^^^^^^^^^^^_ +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^_ 

Very helpful +^^^^^^^^^ H +^^^^^^^^^^ 

+ + + + + +- + + + + + + +- 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30 40 50 60% 

Apart from the few unfortunate directors in the first two 
categories, the overall forms of the charts are similar and 
indeed encouraging. One priest did not answer the question 
directly, but simply wrote 'necessary' against it. One musical 
director confessed to finding the question difficult to answer, 
since the priest-in-charge was her husband. 

Meetings of a different sort were in my mind when I 
formulated the next question. While the draft questionnaires 
were being circulated to senior church musicians and clergy 
for their comments, one of them received a letter of appeal 
from an organist who felt that his vicar was trying to spy on 
him. The vicar's presence at every choir practice was proving 
intolerable. In the production questionnaires, I therefore 
asked directors to specify which of the following statements 
most closely described the situation at their choir practice (if 
there was one): 

• priest-in-charge does not regularly attend and would not be 

• he/she does not regularly attend but would be welcome; 

• he/she regularly attends and is not welcome; 

• he/she regularly attends and is welcome. 

Whatever other problems may have been besetting the 
musical directors taking part in the survey, this was not one 
of them — no-one at all voted for the third option. The 
director at one church in ten would not welcome the clergy's 
presence if he/she appeared, but six times as many would. At 
one church in seven, the priest regularly attended practices 
and was welcome. In short, most directors saw nothing 



wrong in the priest attending, an indication of a satisfactory 
working relationship. Returning to the case of the distressed 
organist, it is surprising that the vicar found time to attend 
choir practice but, given the fact that he did, perhaps his 
intentions were being entirely misinterpreted. 

Multiple or Shared Responsibilities 

I asked: 'For how many churches, including this one, are you 
responsible?' 1 Very few were directors of music at more than 
one church although, if the national shortage of organists 
continues, this will have to change, or more churches will be 
without 'live' music altogether. One of the respondents 
merits special mention as both musical director and priest-in- 
charge at no fewer than four churches. 

Unless a choir is very competent, it ideally needs to be 
conducted, and this is of course not possible in accompanied 
works without an assistant. So I asked: 'Do you have at this 
church an assistant musical director who regularly shares 
responsibility with you either as choirmaster or organist?' 
The word 'regular' was emphasised in order to exclude what 
might be termed 'holiday-locum' organists. At one church in 
three there was an unsalaried assistant, but at only one in 


This question appeared also in the clergy questionnaire. I asked it partly as a 
check: if a group of questionnaires from the same respondent became 
accidentally separated, they could be reunited. However, despite my 
underlining the word 'including', it was clear from the number of 'zero' 
responses that some had answered the question as if it had read 'excluding'. 
The Oxford Diocesan Year Book 1988 (Oxford Diocesan Board of Finance, 
Oxford, 1987) enabled me to discover the extent of this confusion — at least 
amongst the clergy. Only a quarter of the churches were in the care of a 
priest without pastoral responsibilities elsewhere, whilst almost half were in 
the care of one with responsibilities at two or more other churches. Such is 
the shortage of clergy and such is the pastoral load that they must bear. For a 
priest to be in charge of six churches (and have to attend six PCC meetings 
instead of one!) is surely far too much of a burden. Overall, the level of 
clergy misinterpretation of the question was very low, and it would seem 
almost an insult to the collective intelligence of musical directors to suggest 
that the proportion of them misinterpreting the question was significantly 



fourteen a salaried one. At almost three churches out of five, 
there was no regular assistant at all. 1 


Musical directors tended to remain in post at a church 
somewhat longer than the priest-in-charge. However, the 
number of musical directors with long periods of experience, 
either in their current church or elsewhere, was unexpectedly 
small. Very few directors had any written contract. In still 
fewer cases was there more than one suitable candidate when 
the director was appointed. 

Where a fee was offered at all to a musical director, £2 per 
visit (including choir practice, if any) was typical. However a 
clear majority were satisfied with their rate of pay. A typical 
annual budget for new music at a church was only £10. 

Rarely was the director on the PCC ex officio. Hymns 
tended to be chosen by the clergy, whilst the musical director 
had at least a major say in the choice of tunes and, where 
applicable, even more influence in the choice of any other 
music. Although there was usually some sort of 
'understanding' between the priest and musical director on 
the role of music in worship, they devoted very little time 
actually to discussing it. Where meetings were not currently 
taking place, a majority of both parties nonetheless expressed 
the wish that they should. Where meetings were taking place, 
both parties usually found them helpful. 

At two fifths of the churches there was an assistant musical 
director on a regular basis. 


I excluded from these figures the special cases of the churches where the 
priests-in-charge saw themselves also as musical director. In three fifths of 
these cases there was some sort of 'assistant' who probably better fitted our 
definition of musical director. Whether that person was unwilling or unable 
to complete the questionnaire, or why the priest was unwilling for him/her to 
do so, we will never know. At the remainder there was no assistant. The 
picture of an already overworked clergyman darting between pulpit, lectern 
and organ console is therefore not quite as common as we might at first have 


Come, Let Us Join 
Our Cheerful Songs 1 

The Church and its Music in Worship 

So far we have been looking at the backgrounds and general 
attitudes of clergy and musical directors, and their percep- 
tions of what was happening overall at their churches. Now 
we come to more controversial matters — the services and, 
more particularly, the music in them. 

I was seeking answers to a number of questions. For 
example, how often could we expect to encounter a service 
with music at a given church? How many people would we 
find there? Would the music be 'ancient' or 'modern'? Ditto 
the liturgy, and would the emphasis of worship best be 
caricatured as 'bells and smells' or 'happy-clappy'? 

Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself. 2 Could 
the same be said of the words and the music in the service, 
the music and the musical resources, and — especially — the 
priest-in-charge and the musical director? 

Both parties were invited to provide information on up to 
three different types of service with music regularly taking 
place at their churches. Although we will be mainly examin- 
ing the music, we look first at the more general questions 
relating to these services. 

1 H. Lahee, [in, for example,] The English Hymnal (OUP and Mowbray, 
London, 1906), No. 376. 

2 Psalm 122, v. 3 (BCP). 



The Worship 

Although we need to ask questions about the worship and its 
participants, first of all we must discover when the service 
with music is actually being held. Are we even safe in 
assuming that all such services are held on Sunday? Whilst 
said communion services on weekdays are not at all 
unknown, I was unaware of the existence of weekday 
services with music (other than in cathedrals and collegiate 
foundations). I was right: with the exception of a weekday 
eucharist with hymns at a couple of churches, and a weekly 
mothers' and toddlers' service at a further two, all the regular 
services with music took place on a Sunday. Few churches, 
however, offered a choice of musical services on any given 
Sunday: at just over two fifths there was on average only one 
such service per week, while at a further quarter it took place 
even less frequently. As many as two fifths of the services 
had already begun by 10.15 a.m. — presumably to allow the 
rest of Sunday for recreation. 

What type of service could we expect to encounter? Not 
surprisingly, the musical director and the priest-in-charge 
were in close agreement on this. 



director' s 


Priest-in-charge' s view 

Rite A Comm. 

Rite B Comm. 

BCP Comm. 


+ H 

ASB Mng . Pr . 

+ H 


BCP Mng . Pr . 


+^^ m 

ASB Evg . Pr . 



BCP Evg . Pr . 
Family serv.* 

+^^ m 



(* Non-eucharistic) 10 20 30% 10 20 30% 

Just under half the services were communion-based. 1 The 
most common liturgy was Rite A, followed by BCP Evening 
Prayer. 'Other' comprised services no longer in widespread 
use, for example Series 2 communion, and hybrids such as 
morning prayer and communion in the same service. 
The liturgy of the Church of England can mean all things 

1 These tables of course exclude any said services. 



to all men, and the above tables provide no information on 
the style of worship. I therefore also requested information 
on the services' degree of charismatic worship, and their 
catholic or evangelical emphasis. When on page 105 we 
looked at the personal preferences in worship of both parties, 
we noted a lower response rate than in other questions. A 
similar reduction occurred here. 

Degree of charismatic worship in services 








bor' s 

— +- 


Priest-in-charge' s view 




+^^^^^ m 








+^^^^ m 


non-char . 





+ + + +- 

10 20 30% 

The averages for musical director and clergy were respect- 
ively 0.8 and 1.0 (i.e. verging slightly towards non-charis- 
matic). Inevitably the grading of charismatic worship is sub- 
jective, yet in three cases out of five where the question was 
answered by both parties, they were within one point of each 
other in their assessments. Most churches seem to be either 
middle-of-the-road, or strongly non-charismatic. Making use 
of the data on page 105, I examined the extent to which each 
party felt out of sympathy with the charismatic content of the 
worship taking place at the church. For three quarters of the 
directors responding, the church's approach to charismatic 
worship came to within one point of their personal preference. 
One director in ten indicated a difference of three points or 
greater, implying either significant dissatisfaction, or an error 
in understanding or answering the questions. 
Similar figures were found for the clergy. A priest, however, 
has the power to angle the services towards his own viewpoint 
while the director does not. The fact that a priest may choose 
not to do so is likely to be to accommodate the specific 
church's requirements (of which he would presumably have 
been told before accepting the appointment). A deviation of 
three points or greater should not therefore necessarily be seen 



as a source of dissatisfaction in the way that it might be for a 
musical director. 

Degree of catholic/evangelical worship in services 





Musical director's 


Priest-in-charge' s view 

evang . 

+ + + + — 

10 20 30% 

+ + + +- 

10 20 30% 

The averages for musical directors and clergy were respect- 
ively -0.2 and -0.5 (i.e. slightly catholic, the priests' percep- 
tion being marginally more so). Again there is good agree- 
ment: in four cases out of five where the question was 
answered by both parties, they were within one point of each 
other in their assessments. The fact that there was a greater 
measure of agreement than in the case of charismatic/non- 
charismatic, is probably because the catholic/evangelical 
divide is more clearly recognised. For four fifths of the 
directors responding, their perception of the church's degree 
of catholic/evangelical worship came to within one point of 
their personal preference. One director in twelve indicated a 
difference of three points or greater, as before implying either 
significant dissatisfaction, or an error in understanding or 
answering the questions. Again the clergy figures were very 
similar, here also a large deviation should not necessarily be 
seen as a source of dissatisfaction. 

The Worship and its Participants 

Next we look at the participants attending these services. At 
just over half the churches, the size of congregation, excluding 
choir, at the best-attended of the services was less than 50 and, 
at one church in six, less than 20. The minimum and maximum 
were respectively 5 and 600, the average being 63. The total 
number of attendances at each church per month was also 
calculated. The average figure for this was 293, the minimum 
and maximum being 5 and 5160, an enormous range. 



At more than nine tenths of the services reported, there was 
'always/nearly always' an organist, and at a further one in 
twenty there was 'sometimes' one. Although this may seem 
encouraging, a word of caution is necessary: the question 
would fail to reveal a service which had become entirely said 
because an organist was no longer available. One priest 
remarked sadly: 'Unfortunately the organist can only be an 
occasional treat.' A pianist can be used instead of, or in addition 
to an organist. However, at only one service in 20 was a pianist 
'always/nearly always' present: at a further service in seven one 
was 'sometimes' present. 

The use of non-keyboard instrumentalists was slightly more 
widespread than that of pianists ('always/nearly always' at one 
service in 25, 'sometimes' at one in five). This is perhaps 
because different skills and hence different people are involved, 
and because the pianist will in many cases tend to be guided 
towards the organ console. Information on the nature of the 
instruments was requested, but not always provided. 
Sometimes the information was limited to 'instrumental group', 
but at least this implied a range of talents being used. In the 
following list, the instruments (or groups of instruments) are 
given in decreasing order of usage: guitar (by far the most 
common), flute, instrumental group, recorder, string group, 
clarinet, electronic keyboard, percussion group, brass group, 
orchestra, tape recorder (as a substitute for an organist), 
trumpet, woodwind group, digital horn, oboe. The percussion 
group at one church included bongo drums, perhaps more to 
the liking of some than others. 

Next we turn to the choir, which on page 88 we arbitrarily 
defined as 'a group of singers (robed or unrobed) remaining 
together during a service, even when they are not singing'. It 
is by no means unknown in some churches for the choir to 
outnumber the rest of the congregation. We looked on page 
123 at the size of choirs: now we see from the following tables 
that there would a roughly 50/50 chance of our encountering 
one at a service. 


Choir present at services 1 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 

Never +^^^^^^^^^^^^_ +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m 

Sometimes +^^^_ +^^_ 

Always /nearly +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m 

always + + + + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30 40 50% 

In some churches, especially those of a charismatic or evan- 
gelical outlook, music groups of a less formal nature have 
developed, sometimes being referred to as 'worship groups', 
and existing either alongside or instead of the traditional choir. 
(Choirs as such often seem to be regarded, rightly or wrongly, 
by these churches as elitist.) Adult singing groups seemed to 
find little place at those churches taking part in the survey 
('never' 86%; 'sometimes' 10%; 'always/nearly always' 4%). 
In contrast, in a survey of mainly evangelical churches, 
singing groups were found in a third of the cases. 2 There 
seems to be no widely held definition which differentiates 
between 'choir' and 'worship group' (other than the type of 
music sung, the persuasion of the church, and possibly in 
which part of it the music is sung). We may, however, wish to 
take note of the following comment from a vicar of 
charismatic persuasion: 

It would be tragic if, within renewed worship, the worship group 
took on [the] negative traits previously belonging to the choir, yet in 
some places I can detect this happening in very small ways. 3 

Plus ga change? At four fifths of the services reported, 
Sunday school choirs never sang (other than in perhaps a 

1 The discrepancy between the two tables will have been caused by several 
factors. First, in those instances where the question was duplicated between 
questionnaires, and the priest-in-charge and director were one and the same 
person, the result was included only in a clergy capacity. In such a situation, 
a choir seems less likely than elsewhere. Other contributory factors included 
respondents intending a blank response to mean 'never', or the fact that the 
two sets of observations are not based on exactly the same set of churches. 
Finally, despite the note drawing respondents' attention to the definition of a 
choir within the questionnaire, there may have been minor confusion 
between it and any separate adult singing group. 

2 'Results of Your Completed Questionnaire Forms' in Music in Worship, 39 
(Summer 1987), p. 5. 

3 John Leach, Liturgy and Liberty (MARC, Eastbourne, 1989), p. 82. 



congregational capacity), and only 'sometimes' in almost all 
other cases. This is despite the fact that in doing so, the 
members of today might be encouraged to join — or even 
form — the adult choir of tomorrow. 

Other musicians did not seem to be widely utilised either 
('never' 92%; 'sometimes' 7%; 'always/nearly always' 1%). 
These (together with the number of churches using them) 
were: solo singer 7, visiting choir 3, young people's singing 
group 1, mixed-age singing group 1, instrumental group 2, 
handbell ringers 1. (The last two groups were being used in 
their own right, either instead of or in addition to accom- 
panying any singing. It would have been interesting to know 
the age ranges of these groups.) The director at one church 
reported that the priest-in-charge occasionally sang and 
accompanied himself on the guitar at family services. I could 
not resist checking to see whether they were one and the same 
person — they were not — but scrutiny of the questionnaire 
revealed a less than complimentary description of the standard 
of playing! I wonder whether the priest had ever considered 
asking someone else to play and/or sing — one or more of the 
older children perhaps? 

The Worship and Its Music 

We now turn to the specific subject of the music used in 
worship at the churches: hymns and congregational songs 1 , 
psalms, settings of the eucharist, canticles, anthems, and 
other vocal music. 

Hymnals and Song Books 

We examined earlier (pages 37-60) the centrality of 
hymnody in worship, and reviewed a number of the hymnals 
and song books in current use. The survey provided informa- 
tion not only on the relative usage of hymnals at each church, 
but also on their relative levels of acclaim by the two parties. 
Not surprisingly, multiple usage of hymnals was not at all 
uncommon. One church used no fewer than five in the same 

1 The reason for using this composite term was explained on page 88. 



type of service, although the maximum number used on any 
one occasion was unclear. Whatever the figure, when 
combined perhaps with an ASB and a weekly leaflet, it must 
surely represent a formidable task for the sidesmen and 

women. 1 

Relative usage of hymn books 

AM New Std 

AM Rev 

AM Standard 

Anglican H Bk 

New Eng Hymnal 

English Hymnal 

HF Today's Ch 


Eng Pr 

Mission Pr 

Sound of Liv W* 


* and/or 

Fresh Sounds 

The leading position of Ancient and Modern Revised is likely 
to be increasingly overtaken by Ancient and Modern New 
Standard. Some respondents may mistakenly have voted for 
the old Standard edition instead of one of the other two, yet 
the fact remains that it is still quite often to be seen in the 
pews of village churches. These three hymnals between them 
account for almost half the total usage. However, The New 
English Hymnal, published only two years before the 
distribution of the first questionnaires, was already making 
good headway. Mission Praise was rather more widespread 
than either Anglican Hymn Book or Hymns for Today's 
Church. Books listed in the 'other' category were, in 
decreasing order of usage: church's own compilation, 
Celebration Hymnal, Songs of Fellowship, Come and Praise, 
Junior Praise, With One Voice and seven others. One priest 
commented: 'overhead projector slides from all over the place'. 
Ten years is a long time in relation to such surveys, but 
Hill 2 found that Ancient and Modern Revised was then being 

1 Discrepancies between the observations of the two parties will partly have 
been caused by musical directors sometimes listing amongst their lesser-used 
hymnals those used for alternative tunes or harmonies. 

2 Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 
Music, Addington, 1983), pp. 54-55. 



used as the main hymnal at 61% of churches, and as a 
supplementary hymnal at a further 10%. 100 Hymns for 
Today was being used as a supplementary book at 80% of 
churches. The English Hymnal was being used as the main 
hymnal at 18% of churches, and as a supplementary book at 
19%. Ancient and Modern Standard was the main book at 
8%, and Anglican Hymn Book at 6%. 

The questionnaire of the recent Archbishops' Commission 
sought information only on the recently published hymnals 
and on the numbers of churches in which they were being 
used (and without asking respondents to specify the degree of 
usage: in an extreme case the books could presumably stay for 
months at a time in a cupboard!). It found that Mission Praise 
or Junior Praise was used at more churches than Ancient and 
Modern New Standard. 1 This is confirmed in my own data — it 
is only when one considers relative levels of usage that the 
form of the charts on page 154 emerges. The Commission's 
statement that Mission Praise or Junior Praise were 'the most 
popular of all the hymn books listed in the questionnaire' is 
unfortunate not only for this reason, but also because the word 
'popular' implies favour — which of course was not being 
measured. Less seriously, it was not made clear at this point in 
the text that the questionnaire covered only the newer 
hymnals, so the press took the statement to mean that these 
two books were the 'most popular' of all hymnals. 

In other surveys, usage of English Hymnal in central London 
was found to exceed that of Ancient and Modern 2 , while in 
cathedrals the major books were found to be The New English 
Hymnal 28%, The English Hymnal 25%, Ancient and Modern 
Revised 20%, and Ancient and Modern New Standard 13%. 3 

1 In Tune With Heaven, Report of the Archbishops' Commission on Church 
Music (Church House Publishing, and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 
1992), p. 275; based on: Jacqui Cooper, Music in Parish Worship (Central 
Board of Finance of the Church of England, London, [dated] 1990 [but not 
published until 1992]). 

2 John Winter Music in London Churches, 1945-1982 (PhD thesis, University 
of East Anglia, 1984), p. 229. 

Berkeley Hill, The Organisation of Music in Cathedrals in the United 
Kingdom (Cathedral Organists' Association, Addington, 1989), [p. 47]. 



Average Levels of Satisfaction with Hymnals 
Musical director's view Priest-in-charge's view 

Very satisfied 


-1.3 r 

New English Hymnal — 



(Songs of Praise) — 


J 1.7 L 

New English Hymnal 


A & M Revised — 

! h 

J 1.9 L 

- A & M New Std 

Satisfied A & M New Std 

=2 0= 

(Sound of LW / Fr Sounds) 

100 Hymns for Today etc. — 


— Mission Praise 

— Anglican Hymn Book 

Hymns for Today's Church — 

- -i2.2r 

- Other 

—_ •— 

— 100 Hymns for Today etc. 

Anglican Hymn Book 

J 2.3 L 

Mission Praise 

-= =- 

- A & M Revised 

English Hymnal 

- -i2.4r 

English Praise 

-; •— 


— Hymns for Today's Church 

Other — 



— English Hymnal 


Results based on fewer than 

— | j— 

10 items of data are shown 


in brackets. 

Uncertain A & M Std 

- -i3.or 

Results based on fewer than 

-j j- 

5 items of data are not 



J 3.3 L 

A & M Std 

J 3.4 L 


- 4.0- 

Very dissatisfied 

- 5.0- 



In order to obtain a genuine measure of the relative 
popularity of hymnals, I asked both parties to specify their 
levels of satisfaction with their two most-widely used books, 
on a scale from 1 (very satisfied) through 2 (satisfied), 3 
(uncertain) and 4 (dissatisfied) to 5 (very dissatisfied). In the 
subsequent analysis I linked these levels of satisfaction to 
specific books, the average values for each book being 
shown in the table on page 158. 

Despite its high-church overtones, The New English 
Hymnal had within a short period become the best received 
of all hymnals by musical directors and clergy alike. Of those 
using it, over nine tenths of both parties were either satisfied 
or very satisfied. The English Hymnal was, however, marked- 
ly less popular. Although more than seventeen out of twenty 
of both parties were either satisfied or very satisfied with 
Ancient and Modern New Standard, a few directors were 
very dissatisfied — I wonder why. Ancient and Modern 
Revised was somewhat more popular than AMNS with 
musical directors, but considerably less popular with the 
clergy. Not entirely surprisingly in view of its age, Ancient 
and Modern Standard Edition was felt to be by far the least 
satisfactory of the hymnals. 

In the case of books in the 'other' category, the musical 
directors had the greater misgivings, over 10% being very 
dissatisfied. Since 'local compilation' was the largest 
contributor to this category, one is tempted to suppose that, at 
least in these cases, someone other than the musical director 
did the compiling. 

The New English Hymnal had not become established at 
evangelical churches, nor had Mission Praise at catholic 
ones. Satisfaction with both The English Hymnal and TNEH 
increased with the level of catholicity. The same was true of 
Ancient and Modern New Standard as far as the clergy were 
concerned but not so for the musical directors. Another trend, 
but one on which both parties agreed, was that 'other' 
hymnals (often own compilations) were progressively more 
acceptable the more evangelical the church. 



Despite their importance, hymns are not of course the only 
form of music encountered in worship. We shall now 
therefore proceed to examine the others. Like hymns, the 
psalms are usually published as complete compilations, and it 
is for this reason that we look next at psalters. 

Psalms and Psalters 

Relative usage of psalters for psalm texts 1 


or not used 
Ps Praise 
New Cath 
PI' song 


director' s 


Priest-in-charge' s 




— + 

--+ — 


1 l.llllll 

+ + + + + + + + + + 



+ + + + + + H 



— 1 





10 20 30 


We have already reviewed (pages 60-63) the singing of 
psalms. Although this practice is now much less common 
than in earlier years, psalms were still being sung at roughly 
half the services reported in the survey. 

The usage of psalters was analysed in a similar way to that 
of hymnals, although multiple usage was found to be 
considerably less common. Where psalms were sung, The 
Parish Psalter was the most prevalent, followed some way 
behind by the ASB Psalter, perhaps chosen in part because of 
the convenience of having Rites A and B and the psalms all 
in the same volume. 


Several respondents, whilst answering other questions, left this one blank, 
perhaps implying that psalms are either said or not used. If so, it would 
increase still further the values on the first line of the chart, and reduce the 



Of the remaining psalters, none was making any real 
headway, and indeed the two parties could not really agree on 
their relative usage. 1 Items in the 'other' category included 
responsorial psalms from The New English Hymnal, Psalms 
for the Eucharist, and Taize-type settings. At one church the 
psalms were said over a quiet instrumental background. 

In a survey of RSCM churches, 2 The Parish Psalter was 
found to be six times as widely used as the ASB Psalter (cf. 
three times now), with the New Cathedral, Old Cathedral, 
and Oxford all quite close behind the ASB. Only one church 
in 50 reported that psalms were not sung. Even allowing for 
differences between the two sets of churches taking part in 
the different surveys (RSCM churches tending to be of a 
conservative nature), it would appear that attitudes towards 
the singing of psalms have changed substantially in only a 
few years. 

The usage of psalters in cathedrals has recently been found 
to be: Oxford 30%, Worcester 20%, Revised and Parish each 
10%, own compilation and others 30%. 3 

Certain psalters provide music, either adjacent to the text 
(for example Parish) or as a companion volume (for example 
New Cathedral). Other psalters provide no music, and even 
sometimes in the case of those that do, users take the music 
from another publication, and the musical directors were 
invited to provide information on this. However, in practice 
only a few did so, which implies widespread usage of the set 
music. 4 

There may have been some confusion between the ASB Psalter and The 

Revised Psalter. In addition, at several churches one party indicated New 

Cathedral box, while the other indicated 'other' and wrote in Old Cathedral. 

In such cases it seems likely that the Old Cathedral was in fact the psalter 

being used. 

Berkeley Hill, A Survey of Church Music, 1982 (Royal School of Church 

Music, Addington, 1983), pp. 55, 61. 

Berkeley Hill, The Organisation of Music in Cathedrals in the United 

Kingdom (Cathedral Organists' Association, Addington, 1989), [p.47]. 

Six churches had compiled their own set of chants, while a further three were 

each using more than one published book. The number of churches reported 

to be using specific chant books was as follows: Anglican 6, Old Cathedral 5, 



Psalms, in particular those set to Anglican chants, have 
sometimes been criticised because of the difficulties encoun- 
tered by congregations in singing them. So I asked: 

If psalms are sung, who sings them? 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 

Everybody +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^B +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m 

Choir alone +^ +^_ 

Choir & cong . +^ m +^ m 

alternately + + + + +- + + + + + 

20 40 60 80% 20 40 60 80% 

The third line of the table includes the use of responsorial 
psalms (two respondents indicated that the singing was 
alternately by congregation and cantor), but it is also not 
unknown for choir and congregation to sing alternate verses 
in a similar way to decani and cantoris in cathedral choirs. 
Any discrepancy between the sets of figures may simply be 
because the clergy describe what is supposed to happen, 
while the directors tell what happens in practice — in the 
words of one: 'sung by choir, muttered by congregation'. 

Having drawn up a league table of the relative levels of 
acclaim of the various hymnals, I did the same for psalters. I 
asked both parties to specify their level of satisfaction with 
their most widely used psalter, on the same scale as before, 
namely 1 (very satisfied) through 2 (satisfied), 3 (uncertain) 
and 4 (dissatisfied) to 5 (very dissatisfied). The average 
figures for each psalter are shown on the table overleaf. 

There was a wide range of views on the suitability of the 
various psalters used. The only book to be rated highly by 
both parties, albeit within a very select group, was the Oxford 

RSCM and Parish each 4, New Cathedral 2, and four other books each being 
used at only one church. One of these was A Manual of Plainsong, and it 
seems likely that this volume, although not reported as such, was in use at 
most if not all of the churches using plainsong. 



Average Levels of Satisfaction with Psalters 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge's view 

- 1.0- 


(i) Oxford; (ii) Revised 



Satisfied New Cathedral 

(Psalm Praise) 



Very dissatisfied 


J 1.5 L 





-!2.1 L 




2.5 L 


2.7 r 


2.9 r 


3.1 r 






(Psalm Praise) 





New Cathedral 

Results based on fewer 
than 10 items of data are 
shown in brackets. 

Results based on fewer 
than 5 items of data are not 



Settings of the Eucharist and Canticles 

If there is any music at all at a service, it will almost certainly 
take the form of hymns. If slightly more elaborate music is 
included, it will probably take the form of a setting of certain 
parts of the eucharistic liturgy (usually the Kyries and/or 
Gloria, Sanctus, Benedictus, and Agnus Dei), or the canticles 
at Morning or Evening Prayer. In three quarters of the 
services they were sung (in Latin at one service in 60). 

A total of 79 churches specified their eucharistic settings. 
These were, in decreasing order of usage: Merbecke, Richard 
Shephard Addington or Wiltshire, Dom Gregory Murray 
People's Mass, Patrick Appleford New English Mass, Martin 
Shaw Folk Mass, Ian Hubbard (either his own or the 
Salisbury setting composed jointly with Neil Cocking), John 
Rutter, local composition, Darke in F, plus some thirty other 
settings. One of the churches using Merbecke was doing so 
in a Rite A service — it is unclear whether the words had been 
changed to the Rite A version. Dakers, in particular, regards 
such manipulation of the text as a poor compromise 1 , whilst a 
similar adaptation of Shaw's Folk Mass was withdrawn at the 
request of the composer's widow. 2 In a survey 3 of music sung 
at services in British cathedrals during 1986, Darke in F was 
first among the communion services, Merbecke 13th, and 
Addington 48th=. 

Twelve churches were, at least occasionally, singing the 
evening canticles to a setting. These included, in decreasing 
order, Stanford in B flat, Stanford in C, and Noble in B minor. 
At cathedrals, Stanford in C was first among the evening 
canticles, Noble in B minor third, and Stanford in B flat 
fourth. Three churches were, at least occasionally, singing the 
morning canticles to a setting. At all three, Stanford in B flat 

1 Lionel Dakers, Church Music in a Changing World (Mowbray, Oxford, 
1984), p. 55. 

2 John Winter, Music in London Churches, 1945-1982 (PhD thesis, University 
ofEastAnglia, 1984), p. 87. 

3 John Patton, Survey of Music and Repertoire (Friends of Cathedral Music, 
Chichester, 1990) [pp. 3-7]. 



was one of the services sung. At cathedrals, it was top of the 
morning canticles. 


Most of the music that we have considered so far has, at least 
in theory, been open to everyone to sing. The same cannot be 
said of the remaining music found in services, and this can 
give rise to mixed feelings. 

It is not uncommon to find the singing of an anthem which rings 
more of 'performance' than prayerfulness, as the people sit back after 
the 'act' has been announced to enjoy (or endure) the result. Anthems 
should bring us to our knees, but this is not always so. . . 

The principle of including words of a former age in a modern rite 
is well established through the use of anthems. Well-chosen and 
properly performed, these neither interrupt the flow nor intrude into 
the service and can be a powerful means of proclaiming the Faith. 1 

But just how frequently are anthems sung nowadays? 

Frequency of anthems 

Never + B 

Rarely +! 

One per 3 or 4 services + B 

One per 2 services + B 

One per service + B 

Two per service + B 

10 20 30 40% 

At almost half the services an anthem was never sung, whilst 
at a further quarter one was performed only 'rarely'. 2 Overall, 
therefore, an anthem cannot be regarded as a common event. 

In Tune With Heaven, Report of The Archbishops' Commission on Church 
Music (Church House Publishing, and Hodder and Stoughton, London, 
1992), pp. 42, 184. 

In the ACCMUS statistical report (Jacqui Cooper, Music in Parish Worship 
(London, [dated] 1990 [but not published until 1992]), p. 54), the question: 
'Does your church's musical repertoire include Choir/singing group 
anthems?' evoked a 54% 'yes' response, which implies 46% 'no'. This 
corresponds closely to my 47% 'never' response above. The picture painted 
by the Commission (page 275 of In Tune With Heaven) that 'over 50% [of 
churches included in their repertoire] . . . choir/singing group anthems', 
though true, is incomplete. 



One director added the comment 'alas' to his tick in the first 

An earlier question (page 151) asked whether the service 
was 'never', 'sometimes' or 'always/nearly always' attended 
by a choir. When I re-analysed the frequency of anthems 
using only those cases where the choir was 'sometimes' 
present, I was surprised to find that an anthem was never 
sung in almost half the cases. Presumably the function of 
such choirs is merely to lead the congregational singing, but 
why they should do this at some times and not others is 
unclear. Possibly their level of commitment is such that they 
can function only at the major festivals. Finally, I analysed 
the frequency of anthems using only those cases where the 
choir was 'always/nearly always' present. Here I was equally 
surprised to find that one in seven of the responses indicated 
that an anthem was 'never' sung, and one in three only 
'rarely'. Such a scarcity of anthems suggests either that the 
choir is incapable of singing them (in which case its ability to 
lead the congregational singing must also be in some doubt), 
or begs the question of whether the choir ought perhaps to be 
used more fully. 

I asked directors to specify up to three typical anthems 
sung by the choir. The following table shows the thirteen 
most-cited anthems and, for comparison, the number of times 
that each was performed in British cathedrals in 1986, and its 
position in the order of the 250 most-performed anthems. 1 

It is reassuring that all the most-cited anthems in the 
present survey find their way onto cathedral music lists, 
although it is perhaps not surprising that there seems to be no 
correlation between their relative positions. Possibly less 
encouraging is the fact that Lead me, Lord appeared to be the 
most widespread of all. Approximately a hundred other 
anthems were also cited. The most- widely performed anthem 
in Patton's cathedral survey, Stanford's Bead quorum via 

1 John Patton, Survey of Music and Repertoire (Friends of Cathedral Music, 
Chichester, 1990) [pp. 7-12]. 



(162 times), was cited only twice in the present survey — but 
then it was written for a six-part choir! 

Relative Frequencies Of Performance 
Of The Most Common Anthems 

This survey 


No. of 

No. of 


Title times cited 


times sung 


S.S. Wesley 

Lead me, Lord 





W.A. Mozart 

Ave verum 

* 10 




Edward Elgar 

Ave verum 





S.S. Wesley 

Blessed be the God 





William Byrd 

Ave verum 





Maurice Greene 

Thou visitest the earth 





John Stainer 

God so loved the world 





J.S. Bach 

Jesu, joy 





Thomas Attwood 

Come, Holy Ghost 





Adrian Batten 

0, sing joyfully 





William Harris 

Behold, the tabernacle 





John Goss 

0, Saviour of the world 





Charles Wood 

thou the central orb 





* Nine in Latin, one in English 

For each church I assessed the choir's ability according to 
the most difficult of the anthems cited. For example, if its 
most ambitious anthem was Lead me, Lord or Mozart's Ave 
verum, this was classified as '1'. Blessed be the God and 
Father, or O thou the central orb were classified as '2', 
whilst This is the record of John by Orlando Gibbons, or 
Faire is the heaven by William Harris brought the choir into 
category '3'. The result of this classification was: three fifths 
in Class 1, three tenths in Class 2, and one tenth in Class 3. 
More than half the choirs appeared therefore to perform only 
music which presents scarcely any challenge either to per- 
formers or to listeners. This was not necessarily through any 
fault of either the musical directors or the choirs themselves, 
but it may well be a serious disincentive for recruiting 
additional members, especially those with some knowledge 
of music. 



It is a thing plainly repugnant to the Word of God, and the custom of 
the primitive Church, to have publick Prayer in the Church ... in a 
tongue not understanded of the people. 1 

Attitudes change. Where anthems were sung at all in the 
present survey, the proportion of those using only English 
texts was 50%. However, when the figures were grouped 
according to the director's perception of the church's level of 
churchmanship, a pattern emerged. The proportion of those 
using only English at catholic churches was 39%, at churches 
in the centre 56% and, as might be expected, at evangelical 
churches higher still at 74%. 

Other Vocal Music 

Musical directors were invited to specify the type of music 
performed by Sunday school choirs and any adult singing 
groups or individuals. The first seemed to perform only 
music written for children and, although the answers tended 
not to be specific, the clear impression was that in general it 
had not come from the pen of a classical composer. Adult 
groups tended to be polarised in outlook within their 
repertoire, singing either from one of the more charismatic 
hymnbooks or, in a few cases, items from the traditional 
repertoire, but in general not both. Only one such group sang 
the works of both Thomas Tallis and Graham Kendrick (the 
two names were adjacent in the list!). At three churches the 
singing group sang music from Taize. Several churches 
appeared to see a major function of the singing group as 
teaching the latest music to the congregation. 

Solo singers too tended to be polarised between contem- 
porary songs on the one hand, and classical arias on the other 
{Messiah, Crucifixion, and Olivet to Calvary receiving 
special mention). 

1 Article No. 24 of the 39 Articles of Religion ('agreed upon by Archbishops 
and Bishops of both Provinces and the whole clergy in the Convocation 
holden at London in the year 1562 for the avoiding of diversities of opinions 
and for the establishing of consent touching true religion') (London, 1562). 



A Couple of Barometers 

There were two matters on which I felt that the musical 
director and the priest-in-charge might hold significantly 
different views. The first concerned the hypothetical dis- 
banding of the choir (the question being asked only in those 
cases where there was indeed a choir). 

If the choir disbanded, how would the standard of 
congregational singing alter? 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge' s view 

Much worse +^^^^^^^^^^ +^^_ 

Worse +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m +^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ m 

About the same +^^^^^^^_ +^^^^^^^^^^^^ m 

Better + + m 

Much better + + m 

+ + + + + + + + + + + + 

10 20 30 40 50% 10 20 30 40 50% 

The two parties were certainly not of one mind on this 
matter, the clergy taking a significantly more optimistic view 
of the idea. Dakers takes issue with the view probably in the 
minds of some of them: 

We should have no illusions, nor should we be unduly influenced by 
the thinking which dictates that if a choir is present the congregation 
will not sing. The fact is that even when there is no choir there is no 
automatic guarantee that the congregation will sing . . . because 
Anglican parish church worship is conditioned to the presence of a 
choir. . . . The belief, however fashionable in some quarters, that if 
you dispense with the choir the congregation will take on a more 
active musical role is not borne out by the results. 1 


Lionel Dakers, Church Music in a Changing World (Mowbray, Oxford, 
1984), pp. 89-90. 



The second question concerned whether the choir should 
do any more than merely lead the congregational singing: 

In some churches, the choir sings alone for a considerable part 
of the service. If there is a choir, which one of the following 
most closely describes the situation? 

Musical director's view 




10 20 30 40% 

Priest-in-charge' s view 


+ + + + + 

10 20 30 40% 

where: 1 = Choir does not sing alone and does not wish to do so; 

2 = Choir does not sing alone, but would like to do so; 

3 = Choir sings alone with general assent; 

4 = Choir sings alone, causing some resentment. 

Several points emerge. Firstly, the directors and clergy 
agreed that the choir sang alone for a considerable part of the 
service in roughly 50% of cases, although their perceptions 
of how much constitutes 'considerable' may well have 
varied. Secondly, in the case where the choir did not sing 
alone, the musical directors reported that one choir in six was 
not entirely happy with the situation, compared with only one 
choir in 21 reported by the clergy. Finally, in the case where 
the choir did sing alone, the clergy reported that there was 
resentment amongst one congregation in eight, compared 
with only one congregation in 93 reported by the musical 
directors. The discrepancies in the figures are even greater 
than I anticipated, and point to a failure of clergy and musical 
directors to communicate — with each other, the musical 
director with the congregation, and the clergy with the choir. 


In order to bring together the varied strands of this chapter 
(and one or two from earlier ones also) let us imagine that we 
had decided to attend a service; what might we expect to 
find? First, it is clear that we have to choose our time very 
carefully in order to find a service with any music at all — 
less frequent than once a week in a quarter of the churches in 



the survey. However, we can at least be sure of a seat — at one 
church in six we would be most unlikely to find more than 
twenty people in the congregation. 

We pick up our service book and hymnal. The former will 
probably be an ASB (for Rite A communion: a one-in-three 
chance, or Rite B: a one-in-seven) or a BCP (for Evening 
Prayer perhaps: a one-in-five chance). The most likely 
hymnal will be Ancient and Modern Revised, although 
Ancient and Modern New Standard or The New English 
Hymnal will be more likely if the church has recently 
obtained a new set of books. If psalms are sung at all, they 
will probably be taken from The Parish Psalter. 

Our singing will almost certainly be accompanied on the 
organ, and there will be a 50/50 chance of it being led by a 
choir. Although we may be impressed by the latter 's 
numerical strength — sixteen on average — and by the 
reassuringly high proportion of younger members, notably 
girls, we may as the service progresses become less 
impressed with its musical capabilities. 

On our way out at the end of the service, as we return our 
books, we exchange a brief word with the priest. However, 
we find that we have missed the organist — he and the choir 
have left through the vestry door. 


Happy Are They 1 

Problem Areas and Ways of 
Improving the Partnership 

Just how happy are musical directors with the pattern of 
musical usage in worship today? How happy are the clergy 
with this pattern, and how happy do they think other 
people — musicians and non-musicians alike — are with it? 

In this chapter we examine the levels of satisfaction of both 
parties with various aspects of the music at their respective 
churches. Armed with this information, we then go on to 
explore some of the implications of setting up the equivalent 
of a 'computer-dating agency' in order to optimise the 
partnership between the clergy and their respective musical 

Sweet are the Songs 2 

I wanted to discover how satisfied the musical directors and 
clergy felt about the state of music in worship at the 
churches, following the various upheavals that we looked at 
in Chapter 1. I therefore asked each party to indicate his/her 
level of satisfaction with the following: 
• the working relationship with the other party; 


Robert Bridges from C. Coffin, [in, for example,] Hymns Ancient and 
Modern Revised (William Clowes, Beccles, 1950), No. 261. 
Part of verse 2 of the above hymn. 



• the musical director's musical competence (asked of the 
priest only); 1 

• the musical director's understanding of the forms of 
worship used (asked of the priest only); 

• the priest-in-charge's understanding of the use of music in 
worship (asked of the musical director only); 

• the musical competence of the younger members of the 

• the musical competence of the adult members of the choir; 

• the general conduct of the younger members of the choir; 

• the general attitude of the adult members of the choir; 

• the main (or only) hymnal; 

• the second hymnal (if applicable); 

• the main (or only) psalter; 2 

• the overall use of music in the worship at services. 

In addition, I asked both parties to assess the levels of 
satisfaction of certain other individuals or groups with the 
overall use of music in the worship at services. These others 

• the priest-in-charge (asked of the musical director only); 

• the musical director (asked of the priest only); 

• the congregation; 

• the choir (where applicable); 

• a non-churchgoer who happened to be visiting the church; 

• a Christian visitor with a reasonable interest in serious 

1 We have already noted that in those cases where the priest-in-charge and 
musical director were one and the same person, the results have been 
included only in a clergy capacity. However, a special case arises when we 
are asking a priest for his opinion of himself in his other capacity, for 
example, his own musical competence as musical director. These results too 
have been excluded, although admittedly in some cases they were very 
entertaining! The corresponding question to directors concerning the priest's 
theological and liturgical competence could not reasonably be asked, 
although the responses might have been most illuminating. 

2 The results of this and the previous two questions have already been 
analysed for specific books on pages 157-161. 



• that same Christian visitor if he/she joined the choir (where 

Several respondents suggested that there should have been a 
further question: 'In your view, how satisfied is God?'. 
Others, however, might perhaps have misconstrued it as 

In each case, the scale was from 1 (very satisfied), through 
2 (satisfied), 3 (uncertain) and 4 (dissatisfied) to 5 (very 
dissatisfied). The average figures are shown overleaf. The 
levels of satisfaction of the musical directors and the clergy 
themselves are shown in the left-hand table; their perceptions 
of the levels of satisfaction of others appear in the right-hand 

Nine musical directors out of ten, and a similar proportion 
of priests, reported that their working relationship was 
satisfactory or very satisfactory: this is most encouraging. 
(However, a small note of caution will be sounded when we 
look at these figures again on page 178.) They were only 
slightly less happy with the other's understanding of what 
might be termed the grey area between their roles. 

Less complimentary were their views on the musical 
competence of the choir, in particular the juniors. I wonder 
whether this is a reflection on the type of musical education 
provided by schools, or perhaps it is simply that those who 
are more talented prefer to make music elsewhere. Whatever 
the reason, it is far from encouraging, since today's juniors 
will form the core of the adult choir (or even of the adult 
church) of tomorrow. In between, lies the more subjective 
question concerning the juniors' conduct. Quite possibly 
some musical directors interpreted it in terms of musical 
conduct, whilst the clergy considered it in a wider religious 
context. Directors may well be anxious not to lose 'the adult 
choir of tomorrow', and feel obliged to be correspondingly 



Average Levels of Own Satisfaction 
Musical director's view Priest-in-charge's view 

Very satisfied 

Working relationship with PC 

Adult choir's attitude 

PC's understanding of use of 

music in worship 

Young choir's conduct 


Main psalter 
Main hymnal 

2nd hymnal 

Adult choir's 
musical competence 


Young choir's 
musical competence 



Very dissatisfied 











Working relationship with MD 

MD's musical competence 

MD's understanding of forms of 

Adult choir's attitude 
Young choir's conduct 

Adult choir's musical 

(i) Main hymnal (ii) 2nd 

Main psalter 


Young choir's musical 




Average Perceptions of Overall Levels of Satisfaction of Others 

Musical director's view Priest-in-charge's view 

Very satisfied - 1.0 - 





Christian with interest in 
serious music in choir 


Christian with interest 
in serious music 


















Musical director 


Christian with interest in serious 

music in choir 

Christian with interest in serious 


Very dissatisfied 




Although four out of five of both parties were satisfied or 
very satisfied with the attitude of the adult members of the 
choir, as many as one in twelve expressed dissatisfaction or 
worse. The nature of this may well be different in the two 
cases (differing views, for example, on the relative serious- 
ness of missing choir practice and talking during the 
sermon). One priest regretted the unwillingness of the adults 
to assist in the training of the younger members of the choir. 

Musical directors and clergy were less than satisfied in a 
significant proportion of cases (more than a quarter and more 
than a third respectively) with the overall use of music in 
worship at their church. When they were asked to assess each 
other's level of satisfaction, the musical directors were rather 
over-optimistic (2.09, as opposed to the real clergy value of 
2.47). However, the clergy were much more accurate in their 
assessment (2.39, comparable to the real directors' value of 
2.31). The directors' perception of the congregation's level of 
satisfaction was a little more optimistic than the clergy's 
perception, although one director suggested that the 
congregation's state of satisfaction was more strictly one of 
apathy. However impracticable, it would have been 
interesting to learn the actual views of the congregations. 

Neither musical directors nor clergy rated the level of 
satisfaction of a non-churchgoer very highly, namely 2.46 
and 2.73 respectively. Even more pessimistic were the views 
expressed concerning the lot of a musical Christian visitor. 
Half the musical directors, and almost two thirds of the 
clergy, were not confident that such a person would feel 
satisfied. His/her position would seem to be but little 
improved if he/she were to join the choir — if indeed there 
was a choir at the church in question. One in six of the clergy 
felt that such a person would be dissatisfied or very 
dissatisfied, whilst only one in ten of the musical directors 
felt that their new chorister would be very satisfied. Again it 
would be interesting to know the reasons for such pessimism, 
especially among the clergy, and the extent to which this was 
perceived to be a serious problem. 



By a wide margin therefore, in the view of both parties, 
those least likely to be satisfied with the role played by music 
are the non-churchgoing visitor and the Christian visitor with 
an interest in serious music, whether or not the latter joined 
the choir. It may reasonably be inferred that a non-Christian 
musical visitor would be equally dissatisfied. For whatever 
reasons, both parties perceived the levels of satisfaction of 
both the existing congregation and the existing choir to be 
much higher. If the Christian Church exists for those outside 
it, as has been periodically advocated, then on the musical 
front at least, the churches taking part in the survey seem to 
be fighting a losing battle (and there is no reason to suppose 
that the situation is significantly better elsewhere). 
Furthermore, if the Christian musical visitor is frustrated by 
the music as it currently exists, there is surely a risk that 
he/she will not wish to become involved, thus exacerbating 
the situation. 

I also examined the levels of satisfaction in terms of 
churchmanship, only to find that in general the figures were 
remarkably consistent. One exception was that although an 
amateur musician would be more satisfied in the choir of a 
catholic or middle-of-the-road church than in the congrega- 
tion, this would not be the case in an evangelical church. 

So where do we go from here? Is there anything that can be 
done to improve the situation? 

The Perfect Match 

The secret of a successful computer-dating agency lies in its 
ability to pair together two people whose various character- 
istics are complementary. 1 In principle this sounded straight- 
forward enough, so I wondered whether it might be possible 
to launch a similar scheme enabling musical directors to find 
that 'extra-special' priest, or the clergy to find the musical 

1 For a good match, the agency will need large numbers of clients on its 
database, and it is of course preferable that they be unattached. I gather, 
however, some agencies are more conscientious over these points than 
others ! 



director of their dreams. Details of the mathematics 1 are 
outside the scope of this book, but some of the early results 
in this field are very illuminating. Let us look at some of 

The clergy and the musical directors had both been asked, 
on a scale from 1 to 5 (page 170), how satisfied they were 
with their working relationship with the other party. As a first 
step, for each party I ran a series of 'correlation tests', to see 
whether that party's level of satisfaction could be statistically 
related to any of the other 'variables' that had been under 
scrutiny in the questionnaire. An initial revelation was the 
fact that each party felt the relationship to be more satisfac- 
tory where the other party was younger than him/her. 
Similarly, each party preferred to have been in post longer 
than the other. If the musical director felt that it was in 
general advantageous for a director to co-operate in a flexible 
way, then he/she was more likely to be satisfied with the 
working relationship with the priest. On the other hand, if the 
priest felt it to be advantageous, then the musical director 
was less likely to be satisfied. As Professor Joad would have 
said: 'It all depends what you mean by flexible'. 

If a priest felt that a musical director's ability as a solo 
organist was an advantage, then this boded well in the 
priest's eyes for a satisfactory working relationship. If, 
however, the musical director felt it to be advantageous, then 
this pointed (again from the priest's point of view) to an 
unsatisfactory working relationship. If a musical director was 
involved with other church-music interests outside his/her 
own church, the priest was likely to find the relationship 
easier. Again, in the priest's eyes, a satisfactory relationship 
was associated with much time spent in discussion. However, 
we must be cautious here. If a priest finds a relationship with 
a director difficult, is their failure to hold meetings a cause of 
this difficulty — or an effect? 

1 R.L.D. Rees, The Role of Music and Musicians in Current English Parish 
Church Worship: The Attitudes of Clergy and Organists (PhD thesis, 
University of Sheffield, 1991), pp. 321-337. 



Other correlations which might have been anticipated were 
not found to be significant (or, as might be said, they were 
'not proven'). These included: (a) the musical director's view 
of how advantageous it is for a director to be a practising 
Christian (one might have expected that a director who felt 
that it does not matter would get on worse with a priest than 
one who felt that it does); (b) the number of years that the 
priest had spent in secular employment prior to ministerial 
training (one might have expected that someone who had 
spent longer in the 'real world' might be more tolerant than 
someone who had not); and (c) the number of parties to 
whom a musical director should have the right of appeal in 
the event of dispute with the priest (someone allowing appeal 
to a wider court might be expected to be more tolerant). 

Although these correlations give us new insights, they do 
not particularly help us with our 'computer-dating' project. 
Since any relationship is ultimately a two-way process, it 
may be argued that a truer view of each relationship may be 
obtained by combining the views of the two parties rather 
than looking at each in isolation. Before developing this, I 
had in any case been wondering the extent to which (at a 
given church) the parties took differing views on the state of 
their relationship. As might be expected, at most churches 
both parties held a common view, although naturally there 
were minor differences of perception (for example a priest 
being very satisfied and a director merely satisfied). How- 
ever, there were instances of the director being satisfied and 
the priest dissatisfied or, more remarkable, the priest being 
very satisfied and the director being dissatisfied or (stranger 
still) very dissatisfied. Such situations point to one party's 
unwillingness to admit that there is a problem, or a failure of 
the parties to communicate effectively with each other or 
even, as a specific example of this, a differing perception of 
what constitutes a satisfactory working relationship. A priest 
might regard as ideal a relationship of total subservience on 
the part of the musical director! 



In the circumstances I decided not to put complete faith for 
my 'dating' project in the two parties' stated perceptions of 
their working relationship. I had other possible pointers to 
the state of affairs (e.g. how satisfied each party was with the 
use of music in the worship at services), so I could build up a 
more complete picture of the overall level of musical 
satisfaction of the two parties. For each church, I defined a 
'Satisfaction Index', by summing the following individual 
levels of satisfaction: 

• director's view of priest's understanding of use of music in 

• director's view of working relationship with priest; 

• priest's view of director's musical competence; 

• priest's view of director's understanding of the forms of 
worship used; 

• priest's view of working relationship with director; 

• director's overall view of use of music in the worship at the 

• priest's overall view of use of music in the worship at the 

The items comprising the Satisfaction Index are not entirely 
arbitrary: they are the ones most closely affecting the priest 
and musical director. (The views of the choir, congregation, 
etc. are all of interest, and merit further investigation at some 
stage, but they do not directly affect the priest and the 
musical director.) 

I then ran further correlation tests, this time against the 
Satisfaction Index. Further revelations were in store. In 
particular, an increase in any of the following was associated 
with an increase in the Satisfaction Index: 

• time spent in discussion between the two parties; 

• the number of qualifications (not necessarily musical) held 
by the musical director; 

• the closeness of the two parties' personal preferences on 
catholic/evangelical worship; 



• the number of church-music associations to which the 
musical director belonged; 

• the level of musical attainment of the priest. 

Clergy may find it helpful to consider some of these points 
when next they are interviewing a prospective musical 

Clearly the whole topic of levels of satisfaction defies 
precise quantification. No doubt there are other factors 
systematically affecting it, some being complex combinations 
of variables in the questionnaire, some not asked at all (for 
example, the distance that the musical director has to travel 
to church). Over and above the systematic factors will be the 
traits of human unpredictability. That having been said, any 
attempt at systematically matching priest and musical 
director is surely better than no attempt at all. 

I am convinced that further statistical analysis will bring to 
light additional predictors of the state of the relationship 
between the musical director and the priest. Then, if a church 
receives more than one application for the post of musical 
director, an objective test will be available to determine 
which of the candidates is likely to be the most suitable for 
the specific situation. Of course the crucial word is 'if, but I 
believe that yesterday's poor clergy/organist relationships are 
in no small measure responsible for today's dearth of 
organists. Have we found a means of breaking what is often 
seen as a vicious circle? 



The liturgical and hymnological upheavals of the sixties, 
seventies and early eighties had, by the mid-eighties, left 
many church musicians in a state of shock. Relationships 
with clergy — never renowned for their warmth — appeared to 
be worsening. It was in this context that I embarked on a 
survey of the attitudes of clergy and musical directors to the 
role of music in current parish church worship. This book is 
the outcome of that survey. 

Although much of the book has been devoted to the results 
of a questionnaire survey, the questions within in it had first 
to be placed in their historical and contemporary context. For 
this reason, I devoted the Introduction and Chapter 1 to such 
diverse matters as the Church of England's use of music in 
worship over the centuries, areas of conflict in church music, 
the scope of other church-music surveys, the effects of 
liturgical and hymnological change, and the training courses 
on the use of music in worship. As an introduction to my own 
survey, I included three case studies demonstrating problems 
that can arise when clergy and church musicians are in 

The questionnaires themselves, distributed to the priest-in- 
charge and musical director (organist) at almost half the 
churches in a large diocese, have provided a composite 
picture firstly of respondents' personal backgrounds and 
general attitudes, and secondly, respondents' perceptions of 
the situation at their church, and of each other. The overall 
response rate to the questionnaires was over 74%. This, 



combined with the fact that the diocese has been shown to be 
a typical one, suggests that any conclusions drawn from the 
survey may be applied to the Church of England as a whole. 

Perhaps the most depressing finding of my survey was that 
there appeared to be little common ground between clergy 
and musical directors. The clergy had little knowledge of, or 
ability in, music (the same can perhaps be said of some of the 
directors), whilst the directors' knowledge of theology was 
very limited. Moreover, there seemed to be little desire to 
develop this common ground, with little interest in either 
church-related musical associations or discussion groups. 
Added to this, neither party placed much value on a formal 
qualification in church music. Especially noteworthy, 
however, was the dissatisfaction expressed by clergy at the 
quantity and/or quality of their music training at theological 
college. The extent to which this perceived inadequacy is 
causing major problems in parish-church music is unclear. 
However, a full survey of the music training programmes of 
theological colleges would seem to be a worthwhile future 
project. Indeed, reference to no more than the present data 
and Crockford's 1 would enable a comparison of levels of 
satisfaction between different colleges to be compiled. 

At the time of the survey, alarmingly little time and money 
were being spent on developing the churches' musical 
resources. For example, a typical annual music budget per 
member of the electoral roll was less than 20 pence. In over a 
third of the churches the total time spent per year in 
discussion between the priest-in-charge and the musical 
director was an hour or less (responses elsewhere in the 
questionnaires provided additional evidence of the two 
parties' failure to communicate with each other). At only one 
church in three was the musical director a member of the 
PCC; at only one in four churches was there a working group 
for worship, and at only one in ten a working group for 
music. Also somewhat alarming was the fact that at only one 

1 Crockford's Clerical Directory (89th edn), (Church House Publishing, 
London, 1985). 



church in six was there more than one suitable candidate 
when the present musical director was appointed. However, 
there is hope that the seeds sown in 'National Learn the 
Organ Year' will in due course yield the required harvest. 

The shock waves of the 'hymn explosion' have reached 
many churches, with Hymns Ancient and Modern New 
Standard, The New English Hymnal and many other compila- 
tions taking their places in the pews. Psalms, on the other 
hand, are not widely sung in today's parish churches. 

Apart from all-male choirs (where numbers are declining, 
as are the numbers of boys in all choirs), membership of 
choirs seems to have been maintained in the most recent 
three-year period. This says much for the choirs' forbearance, 
as S.S. Wesley's Lead me, Lord was the anthem most 
commonly cited. 

Both the clergy and the musical directors seemed to agree 
that an interest in serious music was something of an 
impediment to a worshipper in many of today's services. If 
true, and I believe it is, this is a serious matter. Admittedly 
thirty years ago, the Church of England may have had too 
much of a middle-class approach to its worship and music. 
Now the musical pendulum seems in danger of swinging too 
far in the opposite direction. Music should be an aid to 
worship, not an impediment to it, and every effort must be 
made for this to apply to all. It is, however, a fact of life that 
people's musical tastes differ (even BBC Radios 1, 2 and 3 
can barely cover the spectrum), and finding a solution to this 
in the church environment is not easy: 

The relationship between music, Christian worship and culture is 
very complex.... I suspect it is something with which we shall always 
be struggling, because what is culturally meaningful and acceptable 
to one person is anathema to another. 1 

1 Alan Reeve, 'One Man's Meat' in Christian Music (Summer 1990), p. 18. 



The comment of a former Poet Laureate is no less relevant 
eighty years later: 

It seems to me that the clergy are responsible. If they say that the 
hymns (words and music) which keep me away from the church door 
draw others thither and excite useful religious emotions ... all I can 
urge is that they should have at least one service a week where people 
like myself can attend without being moved to laughter. 1 

Finding the right balance for a particular church between 
traditional and non-traditional music is a very sensitive 
matter, requiring considerable discussion between the priest 
and musical director, and preferably other parties as well. 

One Incumbent stressed the importance of treating all styles of music 
seriously, so that modern choruses are sung well and not treated 
lightheartedly In this way he had found new material was acceptable 
to most people. 2 

By a strange coincidence, two somewhat similar projects, 
namely my own and that of the Archbishops' Commission, 
were independently initiated within two years of each other. I 
respect and at the same time regret the Commission's 
decision that, for reasons of confidentiality, the two projects 
had to remain independent of one another. 

Both surveys do, however, agree that parish church music 
is not in a particularly healthy state. However, despite this 
gloom there are one or two rays of hope. Firstly, the 
unusually high response rate from both the clergy and 
musical directors to my questionnaires implies a measure of 
concern. This can perhaps be seen as encouraging in the 
longer term: a problem cannot be resolved until it is per- 
ceived to be a problem. Secondly, I have suggested in 
Chapter 7 ways of predicting how 'successful' a musical 
director will be in a particular church with a given priest. 
This will perhaps encourage priests to think more deeply 

1 R. Bridges, 'About hymns' in Church Music Society Occasional Papers, 2, 
(1911); quoted by Nicholas Temperley, The Music of the English Church 
(CUP, Cambridge, 1979), p. 321. 

2 A Joyful Noise (Resource Paper 84:7) (Administry, St. Albans, 1984), p.3. 



when appointing a new musical director. In fact, one of the 
priests taking part in the survey reported that he had found 
the questionnaire most helpful when interviewing applicants. 
Clergy and musical directors may even be persuaded that it 
would be in the best interests of both parties to spend more 
time in discussion with one another. The absence of adequate 
discussion was a factor common to all three case studies 
(pages 75-85). However, the work so far undertaken on 
matching clergy and musical directors is only a first step, and 
many more interesting correlations undoubtedly lie beneath 
the surface of the data, merely waiting to be trawled. 

In response to a report of my project 1 , I received a poem 2 
(page 186) which provides a fitting epilogue. Not only does 
the poem confirm at least two of my findings, but it also 
implies the need for a further project, namely a survey of 
congregational tastes in church music. 

1 'Role Conflict' in Church Times, 6461 (12 December 1986), p. 8. 

2 This poem by H. Ford Benson is believed to have appeared in a Baptist 
publication c. 1920. It is a pastiche of a poem by Lewis Carroll in Through 
the Looking Glass. 



The Parson and the Organist 

The Parson and the Organist 
Were walking side by side, 

Said the Parson to the Organist, 
'Your tunes I can't abide'. 

'I'm sorry', said the latter, 
'That our tastes should disagree, 

But I really must say frankly 
That your sermons don't touch me' 

And so they fell discussing 

From their different points of view, 
The pulpit and the organ-loft, 

But quite forgot the pew. 

Till up came a churchwarden, 
Who was passing by that way, 

And hearing the discussion 
He just thought he'd have his say. 

'Look here,' said he, 'my brothers, 
You both are in the wrong! 

One shows the way to heaven 
And the other leads the song. 

'Let each to his vocation 
His best endeavours bring, 

For when we get to Heaven 
We must all know how to sing.' 

This ended the discussion, 
For they felt that he was right, 

So the Parson and the Organist 
Shook hands and said 'Good-night' 

To this I can only add 'Amen'. 

Advent Sunday 1992 



Contact Details 

Where available, the contact details of the organisations 
below have been checked in 2012 and updated accordingly. 
In a few cases (denoted by *), this has not proved possible. In 
some others, it is unclear whether the relevant courses are 
still being run. 


1 Lioncroft Cottages, Upwood Road, Bury, Huntingdon, 
Cambs., PE17 1PA 

Christian Copyright Licensing 

Chantry House, 22 Upperton Road, Eastbourne, East 
Sussex, BN21 1BF 
http://w ww ccli, 

Christian Musicians' and Artists' Trust* 

PO Box 45, Patchway, Bristol, BS12 6RT 

Colchester Institute 

Sheepen Road, Colchester, Essex, C03 3LL 

Faculty of Church Music* 

St Jude's Rectory, 49 Upper Tooting Park, London, 
SW17 7SN 

Guild of Church Musicians 

St Katharine Cree, 86 Leadenhall Street, London, 





Incorporated Association of Organists 

13 St Flora's Road, Littlehampton, West Sussex 

BN17 6BD 


Music and Worship Foundation 


Pratt Green Trust 

http;//w w w. prattgreentru^ 

Royal Academy of Music 

Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5HT 
http;//www^ r am^ac^k 

Royal College of Organists 

PO Box 56357, London SE16 7XL 
hltPA// w . w . w ^rcOiOrg : uk 

Royal School of Church Music 

19 The Close, Salisbury, Wiltshire, SP1 2EB 
6ltJteA//^O^^cm A cpm 

University of East Anglia 
Norwich, NR4 7TJ 



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Oxford Diocesan Year Book, 1988 (Oxford Diocesan Board 
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