19 April 2013

A singing Church

I was watching the video of Margaret Thatcher's funeral at St. Paul's Cathedral, and one of the immediately obvious things about it is that during the congregational hymns, everyone was singing. Men and women, old and young, royalty and commoner, everyone was singing. Not just moving their lips, but actually joining together as one voice.

This is one of the things people notice when they visit our parish, or a parish like it, which is filled with converts from Anglicanism and other more traditional mainline protestant denominations. Virtually everyone is singing. Eventually even the lifelong Catholics who join us get into the spirit of things, and start singing.

Why is this? Well, one of the immediate reasons (it seems to me) is that we sing real hymns. Not those pathetic "songs" which elbowed their way in during the sixties and seventies. Real hymns with strong lyrics and a tune you can hum later on. And in those places where the singing is robust, you'll find there's very often a decent organ and someone who knows how to use it to its best advantage. Few things put me off more than someone wailing at me through a microphone and flailing their arms in an attempt to get me to join in some tuneless piece of nonsense, with a piano tinkling in the background. It's something I'd picture at a cheap nightclub. Frankly, it makes me want to shut up and offer prayers that it ends quickly.

No, seeing and hearing that congregation at Mrs. Thatcher's funeral made me thank God for my Anglican roots, and it made me give double thanks that I'm in a parish filled with people who understand that singing is a serious part of worshipping God.