Friday, May 15, 2020

No loss???

The erudite Fr. Hunwicke apparently is no fan of RCS (robust congregational singing!).  It does not surprise me.  The Traddies of Roman Catholic persuasion see all congregational song as unnecessary at best and unwelcome at worst.  Most are happy enough to have the people sit in silence through the Mass and leave the music to professionals (a choir, even a small choir, or cantor).  I get it.  The hymn is not part of the Mass, at least not since Trent or sometime before.  It does not seem to matter that hymns and hymn singing are older than Trent but I understand it.  Nevertheless, his position and the position of those like him finds it a happy turn of events that some have raised concern about singing and the transmission of the dreaded virus.

I'm not going to crow about 'silver linings' while so many people are dying so painfully from the New Death. But, at least, I do not feel that we are obliged to mourn the criminalisation of RCS.  So Fr. Hunwicke says.  He moved his lips as an Anglican but does not feel he has to as a Roman.  He finds most of the modern hymnody of Novus Ordo dreadful (who doesn't?).  Yet he is ready to lump everything from Savior of the Nations Come to O Sacred Head with Gather Us In or a host of other contemporary Christian songs not worth naming here.  Really?  Talk about throwing out the baby with the bathwater.

He speaks of Anglican disdain for the Eucharist and the (I assume) low church and evangelical side that loves hymn sings.  I am not an Anglican and have never even been to England so I cannot comment on the truthfulness of this assertion.  But his idea that everything outside of Rome (and, again, I presume Orthodoxy) is held together by robust congregational song is ridiculous.  Indeed, the faith has been sustained by robust congregational song.  The sturdy hymns of old and modern ones worthy of their heirs sing the faith into the heart as must as the heart sings them out.  Lutherans rejoice in the robust congregational song not in place or a robust confession but as a means of such confession -- within and outside the context of the Divine Service!  He insists that modern dogma free Protestantism survives because of robust congregational singing but I would say that any dogma that survives the emptiness of modern Protestantism is still there because of the great and sturdy dogmatic hymns that are retained.

Should we collaborate in eliminating this effete and pitiful parody of Christianity?  Fr. Hunwicke asks.  Or, would Christianity be better off without this millstone round our necks [robust congregational singing being the millstone]?  Burn the hymnbooks? he queries.

Strange that such comments come from a former Anglican.  Most of the hymns in my Lutheran hymnbook are English in background.  Most of the favorites of the folks in the pews are English.  Many of the greatest tunes are English.  Hymns get in the way of the faith and are a distraction for the faithful?  Me thinks he doth protest too much.  Perhaps it is hyperbole to entertain with a twinge of truth underneath.  I would hope so.  Otherwise it is an example of why it is that catholic Christians outside of Rome simply do not get Rome at all sometimes.  After all, the perfect Mass must be one online where the priest, assisting clergy, choir, and cantor can do their thing unhindered by the burden of a congregation.  Perhaps, if this is the case, the best Mass of all is one you watch without ever being there in person.  By the way, it certainly makes it easier to make up for that unfortunate option to offer the cup to the laity!  If they are never there, commune outside the Mass, and leave the important stuff to the clergy, it solves soooo many problems.   Or does it?!


Unknown said...

Great piece of ecumenical dialogue with the formidable Fr Hunwicke.

John Stephenson said...

Great piece of ecumenical dialogue with the formidable Fr Hunwicke.

In Canada we heard earlier today that indigenous ceremonies must go ahead, while Christian Divine Services remain under the ban!

Anonymous said...

Fr. Hunwicke is just a bitter old man; leave him be and ignore him. He was sure he was moving toward perfection, and then he got pope Frank. What a let down!!

Continuing Anglican Priest

Anonymous said...

The Lutheran hymns were taken from a number of German folk hymns that were sung at church and predated the Reformation. Singing has a place in Church! - Ted Badje

William Tighe said...

I have known Fr. Hunwicke for a quarter-century. To speak of him as "a bitter old man" merely betrays the ignorance of one who could ignorantly pen such a phrase.