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28 December 2011
Chelsea Square - Christmas in

Christmas in Chelsea Square, the new Episcopal Church Christmas special aired on CBS this year, is . . . interesting.

But it does provide us with an unusual opportunity to see a composer accompanying his own hymn, with recorders no less!

David Hurd's "Ye who claim the faith of Jesus" begins 25 minutes and 35 seconds into this video.

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26 December 2011
Church - Monumental, origins of

The earliest beginnings of what became St. Paul's, Richmond can be traced to an event two hundred years ago today.

It was on 26 December 1811 that a theater fire in which 72 people died that led to the founding of Monumental Church. As the church grew, they looked for another location in which to build a much larger church. The result is St. Paul's.

The Richmond Times-Dispatch has this remembrance in today's paper.

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25 December 2011
King's - Carols from, 2011

Here are the carols from this year's Carols from King's program programme from the BBC. Note that these are mostly different carols than the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols which is broadcast live on the radio on Christmas Eve.

1 Hymn: Once in Royal David's City

2 Sussex Carol - arr. Willcocks

3 In dulci jubilo - arr. Pearsall

4 O little town of Bethlehem - Walford Davies

5 Sans Day Carol - arr. Rutter

6 Silent night - arr. Cleobury

7 Angels from the realms of glory - arr. Jaques

8 The Shepherd's Carol - Chilcott; Blessed be that Maid Mary - arr. Cleobury

9 Hymn: While shepherds watched their flocks by night

10 The Three Kings - Cornelius

11 Coventry Carol - medieval

12 Bethlehem Down - Warlock

13 Hymn: The first Nowell

14 I wonder as I wander - Rütti

15 Personent Hodie - arr. Holst

16 O holy night - Adam, arr. Rutter

17 Hymn: Hark! the herald angels sing

Closing Credits

This is all well and good, but if you're like me, and you're feeling extra Christmassy, just press play on all the videos in quick succession.

Holst usually wins out.

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19 December 2011
Ask Mr. Liturgy Person - Should this choir process?

It's time now for our first installment of a new series called "Ask Mr. Liturgy Person". Mr. Liturgy Person believes strongly in the principles of good liturgy, as well as scripture, tradition and reason.

Q: Should this choir process at Evensong?

A: No.

See 11:00 in to this video, which begins at the point just after the Choir has finished singing the Introit from their customary place:

You may send your queries for Mr. Liturgy Person via electronic mail c/o dsinden at gmail dot com. Mr. Liturgy Person's opinions are his/her own and may not necessarily those of the staff or management of blog.sinden.org or Sinden.org proper

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16 December 2011
Cram, Ralph Adams - St. James', Lake Delaware

St. James', Lake Delaware
photo by the author

Today, the Episcopal Church [provisionally] remembers a number of architects noted for the ecclesiastical work including Ralph Adams Cram.

I've been to St. John the Divine, All Saints, Ashmont (see photos posted in August 2010); Trinity, Houston; and Princeton University Chapel, but I think my favorite Cram church remains St. James', Lake Delaware.

It's a beautiful, elegant, quiet country church at the bend in the road and the river.

And sadly, this seems to be the only photo I have of it.

St. James' at night

Historic postcard of interior

Another view

Cram on the cover of Time magazine

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13 December 2011
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2011 (preview)

Well, the results are in!

Today, Tuesday 13 December 2011 the service leaflet for this year's service was posted online. (Earlier the website read that the service leaflet was to be released the week commencing 12 December).

So, how did we do with our predictions?

The service will open with "Once in royal David's city". True (no points awarded)

Either Darke's "In the bleak midwinter" or Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" will be heard as the Invitatory Carol. FALSE (-2 points, for two wrong guesses). The correct answer is: "I wonder as I wander" in the arrangement by Carl Rütti (b. 1949). This carol was last heard at this service as the second carol after the Second Lesson in 2006.

The first carol after the First lesson will be "Remember, O thou man" by Ravenscroft. True (+1 point; net score: -1).

The second carol after the First Lesson will be Peter Warlock's setting of "Adam lay ybounden". FALSE but it is Boris Ord's setting of this same text. (-.5 points; net score: -1.5). This means that for the past seven services it will be Ord's setting: 5; Ledger's setting: 1; Warlock's setting: 1. But there may be a pattern emerging, and I'm going to put all my money on a Warlock setting in 2012.

If it is not sung as the Invitatory, we will hear "In dulci jubilo" after the Second Lesson. FALSE (-1 point; net score: -2.5). Not even close. It's not sung in this year's service (it was last omitted in 2002).

The hymn after the Third Lesson will be "O little town of Bethlehem". FALSE (-1 point; net score: -3.5) "It came upon a midnight clear" was last sung in 2006 (just like the Rütti!).

After the Fourth Lesson: The Lamb by Tavener and "A spotless rose" by Howells. Nearly True (+1.5 points; net score -1). I've missed something in my calculations. Since 2002 Philip Ledger (Stephen Cleobury's predecessor as director of music at King's) has been represented by a carol every year. This year' it's his setting of "A spotless rose", not Howells's. I got the Tavener right.

My last two predictions were duds, but they were both a little out there. Final score: A for effort.

I think what is really remarkable about this year's service is a break in the pattern of Lesson, carol/hymn, carol/hymn. This year after the Third Lesson we get:

  1. Carol: Nowell sing we now all and some
  2. Carol: Sussex Carol - arr. Willcocks
  3. Hymn: It came upon a midnight clear.

I don't have records of there being three separate works between lessons. The closest parallel I've seen is the occasional carol after the Ninth Lesson before "O come all ye faithful".

You have to go back to 2002 to find "Angels from the realms", arr. Jaques, and one more year for Chilcott's The Shepherd's Carol.

"Riu, riu, chiu" makes its first appearance since 2005 after the Second Lesson.

It looks as if Cleobury's carol "Blessed be that maid" is a new arrangement.

The commissioned carol, "Christmas hath a darkness" by Tansy Davies, comes after the Sixth Lesson.

I find it hard to believe that Rutter's Sans Day Carol has never been a part of this service, but it seems as though it has not. And there it is after the commissioned carol.

The spreadsheet has been updated.

King's College Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols (1997-2011)

Hymns are yellow, "Adam lays" are green, "In duclis" are pink (the liturgical color for joy), Cleobury's carols are orange, Cornelius's "The Three Kings" are fuscia, "In the bleak midwinter" is gray (of course), the commissioned carol of the year is red, and carols commissioned for this service previously are marked with an asterisk.

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Anglican choral tradition - golden age of the

IN SOME ways, the Anglican choral tradition may well be entering a golden age — not necessarily a fresh, but certainly a refreshed and refresh­ing expression of Christian worship, fit for purpose in the 21st century.

. . . recent research from the United States, which seeks to identify characteristic types of reli­gious engagement among the young, suggests that a significant proportion of those becoming involved in Chris­tian worship can be described as “Reclaimers”. Like many others, they seek religious experience rather than instruction or dogma, but, unlike some, they reject most of the elements of contemporary worship, seeking instead to reclaim established traditions, finding within them a refuge from the super­ficial-ity of much popular culture, and the onslaught of the commercial world.

Dormor, Duncan. "Where students can reconnect". Church Times 2 December 2011

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12 December 2011
Nine Lessons and Carols - a Festival of, 2011 (predictions)

I can't stand it any more, so I'm going to repeat the antics of three years ago and offer predictions for this year's Festival of Nine Lessons & Carols at King's College, Cambridge. This service is, perhaps, the single most famous annual church service in the world.

Our think-tank believes that it's largely a year of conservative choices, but there's a lot of the service that we simply won't guess about. Therefore . . .

We at Sinden.org predict the following.

The service will begin with "Once in royal David's city". Enough said.

Either Darke's "In the bleak midwinter" or Pearsall's "In dulci jubilo" will be heard as the Invitatory Carol. Just a hunch, though not a very good one since I've tried to cover my bases with two pieces.

The first carol after the First lesson will be "Remember, O thou man" by Ravenscroft. It doesn't seem like there are many choices for this slot, and I bet it's back to this staple this year.

The second carol after the First Lesson will be Peter Warlock's setting of "Adam lay ybounden". We're overdue for this setting which was last heard in 2006.

If it is not sung as the Invitatory, we will hear "In dulci jubilo" after the Second Lesson. Though it was not sung at all in 2002, this carol has been a regular for every other year since 1997.

The hymn after the Third Lesson will be "O little town of Bethlehem". Last sung in 2007, we had been on a rotation with "Unto us" and "God rest ye". This pattern was broken with a duplicate "God rest ye" last year, so I suspect we get back on the rota this year.

I'm going to call a double bill after the Fourth Lesson: The Lamb by Taverner Tavener and "A spotless rose" by Howells. We've heard a lot of Sandstrom lately, and I think it's a return to these two favorites this year.

I bet we'll get some Liszt after the Sixth Lesson. It's a Liszt year, and I think a little Salve Regina, or the like would be fun.

If I have to listen to that Mack Wilberg carol again, I will not be excited about it. The novelty has worn off for me.

Only time will tell if we've been right about any of these. The Sinden.org staff is refreshing the appropriate webpage constantly.

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09 December 2011
Organ - fine, recently erected

The following appeared in the Richmond Enquirer 9 December 1845.

A large number of ladies and gentlemen collected, yesterday afternoon, in the new and magnificent Church of St. Paul's, to hear the fine Organ recently erected by Mr. Erben, the finest manufacturer in New York. Mr. Erben attended, to supervise the performance. Messrs. Dunderdale and Daniels, successively, took charge of the instrument. The former has been selected as the organist of the new Church. Fond as we are of this noble instrument, so susceptible of the most powerful and varied expression, we were delighted with its rich tones, at one moment swelling into notes of thunder, and then fading away like the ‘Sweet South’ breeze. The gentle quality of my delicate ears, contended that it was impossible to appreciate the softer stops—as the beaux would whisper to their fair companions, and the little children would tune their treble pipes. But on approaching very near the performance we heard all the stops perfectly.—We were particularly struck with the brilliant effect of the ‘Night Horn,’ ‘Clarionet’ and ‘Trumpet’ solo stops. We have already fully described the mechanical arrangement of this splendid instrument, which was pronounced in New york to be one of the best works of the manufacturer. We shall not therefore repeat this description. As soon as the organist shall form a complete acquaintance with its various parts, details, and the powers of the instrument, it will be a great pleasure to hear its eloquent breathings.—This organ will cost $4000

Quoted in Weddell, Elizabeth Wright. St. Paul's Church, Richmond, Virginia: Its Histoic Years and Memorials. Richmond: The William Byrd Press, Inc., 1931. Vol I, p. 23-24

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01 December 2011
The Episcopal Church lives (a 9 step proposal)

  1. Go to Google
  2. type in the words "Is the Episcopal Church"
  3. notice what autocomplete does? At the time of this writing you get four questions:
    • "Is the Episcopal Church dying"?
    • "Is the Episcopal Church liberal"?
    • "Is the Episcopal Church catholic"?
    • "Is the Episcopal Church right for me"?
  4. Read this terrific piece "A Search: Of Catholicity, Google Auto-Complete, and the Episcopal Church" over at The Curate's Desk
  5. Start thinking about how you can provide a result on the web for the web query "Is the Episcopal Church right for me?" (Seriously, does your church have a web page with this title? Mine doesn't. I'll get right on that . . .)
  6. Keep your perspective. It's not really about the Episcopal Church, it's about Jesus. And we are Jesus' voice on the internet.
    • Jesus has no blog but our blogs
    • Jesus has no Twitter account but our Twitter accounts
    • Jesus has no YouTube video but our YouTube videos
  7. Join me in publicly sharing what it is you love about the Episcopal Church and how living in the Episcopal Church has shaped your journey in faith.
  8. The Episcopal Church isn't dying, because we all live in it. #LiveInTheEpiscopalChurch
  9. Thanks for your attention.

Here's a comment that I left on the webpage of the first result for the search "is the Episcopal church dying"

I am an Episcopalian.

I joined the Episcopal Church in 2004, right after this big decline supposedly took place.

I can’t find where Mark Tooley in his article “Killing a Church” (http://spectator.org/archives/2010/08/03/killing-a-church) makes the claim that the membership in the Episcopal Church has declined 60% since 2003.

The reality is that membership has declined 43% since 1966, when it was at a peak of 3.5 million.

I am also skeptical of arguments that doctrinal shifts in the Episcopal Church where somehow responsible for this downward trend. This same trend began simultaneously in all protestant denominations, and continues to this day.

Personally, I have had the privilege to witness Episcopal churches throughout the country that are thriving, not dying. Even if they pine for the glory days when the churches were full (aka 1966), these are places of worship that put their faith in action.

Jesus called us to make disciples, not full churches, so I don’t believe that numbers tell the full story.

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