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This page last updated 3 October 2005
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Letters to AO

EVERY WEEK WE PUBLISH a selection of letters we receive in response to something you've read at Anglicans Online. Stop by and have a look at what other AO readers are thinking.

Alas, we cannot publish every letter we receive. And we won't publish letters that are anonymous, hateful, illiterate, or otherwise in our judgment do not benefit the readers of Anglicans Online. We usually do not publish letters written in response to other letters.

We edit letters to conform with standard AO house style for punctuation, but we do not change, for example, American spelling to conform to English orthography. On occasion we'll gently edit letters that are too verbose in their original form. Email addresses are included when the authors give permission to do so.

If you'd like to respond to a letter whose author does not list an email, you can send your response to Anglicans Online and we'll forward it to the writer.

Letters from 26 September to 2 October 2005

Like all letters to the editor everywhere, these letters are the opinions of the writers and not Anglicans Online. We publish letters that we think will be of interest to our readers, whether we agree with them or not. If you'd like to write a letter of your own, click here.

I love it so much I named my beagle after it

Regarding today's essay where it read:

We were momentarily outraged, but then quickly remembered the time a few months back when we caught ourselves desperately searching for a rock or a bottle to throw at the organist because he was accompanying 'Alleluia! sing to Jesus' with Wesley's Alleluia, and not with Hyfrydol, as God surely intended.

I can only agree wholeheartedly, "Hyfrydol" is one of the greatest hymn tunes ever written. I love it so much, I named my beagle Hyfrydol (Hyvvie, for short).

John Merullo
Trinity Episcopal Church, Houston
Houston, Texas, USA
26 September 2005

(Ed: Please see our hymn popularity contest from November 2003)

What's ancient and what's modern?

I have no doubt that you will receive a flurry of letters in response to your recent editorial on music in the church. Perhaps even more than sexuality, debates on the "proper" musical style for divine worship have raged throughout the church's history and that isn't likely to change.

Part of what you alluded to in your article bears repeating: the music of the liturgical church WAS the contemporary music of the times in which it was played. Can you imagine a person-in-the-pew uttering the comment "Oh, this is so 17th century!" while in worship in the mid 1800s? Sadly, much of what people talk about as "modern" worship (folk masses, etc..) is in fact rooted in the 1960s. In the rush to be relevant and cutting edge the church has often simply moved from the 18th century to the late 20th century--still 40 years behind!

Contemporary music has its allure and its place, and it varies in quality and message as much as hymns do. I think the most promising avenue that is being pursued is "blended" worship--the use of both ancient hymns and modern music in a liturgical context. The challenge is to find music that both connects with people and transforms them by bringing them into the presence of God. Much of the fondness for ancient hymns, I fear, stems more from nostalgia than from faithfulness.

Like the gold miners panning for gold, Generation Xers and Millennials absorb and connect with spiritual messages through music from across the spectrum. Hymns, U2 songs, and a wide variety of both "secular" and "sacred" songs serve to incarnate hopes, dreams, and spiritual longings. The task of the church is not to dismiss these new forms of worship, nor to simply whitewash otherwise unchanged church services with them, but to use what already exists to reach new generations with the timeless message of the Gospel. After all, isn't that what "modern" hymns did for those of previous generations?

Tom Sramek, Jr.
St. Alban's Episcopal Church
Albany, Oregon, USA
26 September 2005

Why is nothing being done to heal the wounds?

Once again, thank you to Anglicans Online for the wonderful work they are doing in the Anglican Communion.

This website to me, when looking at the conflict within our Communion, is the only symbol of unity I can look to for sanity within the global church.

We, when reading weekly comments from my brothers and sisters sent to Anglicans Online, are crying out to the one symbol of unity (the Throne of Canterbury) to bring peace and calm within our Communion. But it seems this plea is not being heard by any of the Primates especially the Archbishop of Canterbury. I said a few months ago farewell to the Communion I so dearly love, but like many return to see if all is okay at home.

Are the Primates visiting these websites, where we ordinary, powerless Anglicans can raise our voices? Is the Archbishop of Canterbury listening to the voices of the Folk, he has pledged to lead?

Then why is nothing being done to heal the wounds within the Communion? Most Reverend Father in God, The Archbishop of Canterbury, where are you?

Holy Father makes us holy
Holy Jesus make us Holy
Holy Spirit make us Holy

Damian Bellairs
27 September 2005


"We've not seen any long-term success at adapting traditional liturgy to popular music"?

Hmmm... I thought we'd been using popular music in worship for about, well, 1900 years. Sounds like a reasonable degree of success to me. That is until we stopped engaging popular styles music for the sake of being "church-y."

Just because we aren't singing Bob Dylan's "The Times they are a Changin'" at folk masses any more (unless we are trying to be retro) doesn't mean the adaptation of traditional liturgy to popular music did not stick. It just means that the popular music has changed, just as our langage has changed.

Saying that traditional liturgy and popular music are doomed to failure, and that we Anglicans just need to accept the idea that our worship *must* include unpopular music is like saying that we need 16th century language to make our worship divine, nevermind Archbishop Cranmer's firm belief that our worship be in the language of the people, the vernacular.

I invite you to this Sunday evening's U2 Eucharist(aka had to know something like this was coming!) at St. George's, where you will see young and not so young alike praise the One called "I am" from the depths of their being, worshipping to the beat of "Mysterious Ways," and yearning for their souls' "Elevation." And you might find your own spirit seized and inspired to sing out "Yahweh!" --all in the context of a traditional Eucharist, of course.

Paige Blair
St. George's
York Harbor, Maine, USA
28 September 2005

We are still in His hands

Like most families in St. Bernard Parish, our family fled to Houston on the approach of Hurricane Katrina. We did not have time other than to pack a few things, gather our family and pets and 'head out of Dodge.'

While on the road during a trip that lasted 14 hours, I thought about the small church we have in our parish. I am Senior Warden of St. Mary's Episcopal in Chalmette, Louisiana. St. Mary's is the only Episcopal church in St. Bernard Parish(County). We had barely enough time to leave, I did not check on the church. I knew I locked the church up securely the Sunday before. I felt very guilty and asked God for forgiveness. Also, while I was praying driving away from the storm, I prayed that whatever fate has in store for us, that we (all of the families of St. Mary) and the church was in 'His Hands.'

Needless to say, the hurricane came and went. The impact of Katrina was devastating and will be felt for years to come.

About two weeks after the storm, Helen Meyer, our Altar Guild coordinator, called me to check up on the family and see if I had an opportunity to return to the parish and our church. Up to this point, the parish was closed due to tremendous destruction, remaining floodwaters and lack of essential services. I told her that I was not allowed back in, but we both agreed that whoever was first on the scene will call the other.

A week later, Helen called saying that she was able to go and was in complete shock on what she saw. Apparently a tornado had destroyed most of the roof of St. Mary's . Flood waters rose and left a foot of sludge and moved everything in its path. The Robson Hall, our parish hall sustained major roof and structural damage and probably needs to be torn down. Helen was able to retrieve the altar cross and candlesticks covered in sludge and promised to get them cleaned and store them for safekeeping. She truly represents the best in the Altar Guild. Helen continued that the 'Risen Christ' cross still hangs in the back of the altar along with the paintings. She asked me is there any way in the world to save them. First off, I was in shock that there was anything worth saving, and told Helen I will check on the church myself within the next day or so.

My wife and I made the journey back home to our parish at the first opportunity the local authorities allowed us. Our first stop was the church. I was in total shock. Most of the roof was gone except for a small portion over the altar. There in the mist of destruction hangs our risen Lord, untouched. I have posted pictures of what we saw that morning.

'Christ has died. Christ is risen Christ will come again.' I still do not know how we can secure the statue and paintings. I need help with that. All I know is we are still in 'His Hands.'

Carl Gaines, Jr., Senior Warden
St. Mary Episcopal
Chalmette, Louisiana, USA
28 September 2005

Help me find Benedictine groups

Dear friends,

This is an open query to all readers of Anglicans Online. I am trying to put together a resource guide of groups which meet to study the Rule of St. Benedict and the Benedictine way of life. I would appreciate hearing from people who are involved with such groups.

Diana Smith
St. Alban's
Washington, DC
29 September 2005

Earlier letters

We launched our 'Letters to AO' section on 11 May 2003. All of our letters are in our archives.


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