New hymn book hits wrong note

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The Independent Online
A GROUP of Roman Catholics in Liverpool are boycotting Mass at the city's Cathedral in protest at a decision to use a Church of England hymn book at services.

The row has led to some members of the congregation at Liverpool Metropolitan Cathedral of Christ the King raising a petition against the introduction of The New English Hymnal. The incensed Catholics claim Anglican hymns are being used to 'sterilise' their faith.

Frank Hendry, a member of the cathedral congregation, said: 'This has caused a lot of bad feeling and a lot of people have voted with their feet. They have stopped going to Mass at the cathedral. They go to churches where the traditional Catholic hymns are still used - just about every other church in the city.'

However, Mr Hendry said some churchgoers were standing their ground. 'A petition has been signed by a lot of people who are concerned that Anglican hymns are being used to sterilise the Catholic faith,' he said.

'Much of the hymns in The New English Hymnal date back to (the) Reformation. It is designed to be used in conjunction with the Church of England Book of Common Prayer. It is quite out of place in a Catholic church - even Anglicans can see that.'

Philip Duffy, master of music at the cathedral, who has borne the brunt of the criticism, said the church had received a small number of complaints about the hymn books. 'The New English Hymnal is simply the best book for the job. It covers a wide spectrum of all types of hymns,' he said.

'The complaints received were about there being no hymns about Our Lady in the new book. But there are plenty about her in other books used at the cathedral and it is very rare we sing them unless it is a special occasion.'

A spokesman for the Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool last night said he could 'find no record' of having received a petition protesting against the Anglican hymnal.