LETTERS: Chant is a continuing tradition

From The Rev Paul P. J. Sheppy Sir: In his article on Gregorian chant "CD succes that could revive an ancient liturgy" (29 December), Tony Scotland suggests that the liturgical reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council were a deliberate rejectionof the maxim tenete traditiones. Mr Scotland appears to have read some of the tradition and to have taken it for the whole. I agree that some of the work of those who prepared the vernacular liturgies was flawed in the use of language which was not always elegant - although the Hebrew and Greek Testaments are not uniformly elegant, and elegance is not the only criterion of effective worship.

The essays of liturgists and of historians at the time and the minutes of meetings where the new liturgies were drafted are heavy with scholarship. To take but one example, the eucharistic prayers were researched in minute detail and from that research the "new" forms emerged. Contrary to what Mr Scotland implies, there was an extraordinary commitment to uncover and build upon the most ancient traditions of the Church.

Such liturgies were inevitably, by their newness, contentious and there is a considerable amount of amendment at present being proposed in many of the Western Church traditions. The Church of England, through its Liturgical Commission, has in the past two or three years provided a staggering range of new material in preparation for the eventual successor to the Alternative Service Book. The Church in Wales is also strongly active in this area, as are the Scottish Episcopal Church, the Church of Scotlandin its recent Book of Common Order (combining the Reformed and Celtic traditions) and the Methodists. Romans Catholics are busy too.

It is interesting to note how reactions vary to much modern hymnody which is melodic rather than harmonic. Taize and Iona are modern developments of the simple melodic style, and they are, indeed, very popular. Yet their acceptance is not unanimous. Four-part harmony is a part of the ecclesiastical tradition of these islands - as choral anthems and Christmas carols amply demonstrate. Furthermore, the numerical increases in charismatic congregations do not suggest that Gregorian chant is quite the panace a Mr Scotland proclaims it to be.

The Christian Church is diverse within its unity and is only a provisional creature until the Kingdom of God is revealed in all its fullness. Christian worship is therefore always adapting and is never complete simply in its liturgical forms. The Spirit alone gives life.

Yours faithfully, PAUL P. J. SHEPPY The Joint Liturgical Group of Great Britain Barnoldswick Lancashire 29 December

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

£13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

Ashdown Group: Marketing or Business Graduate Opportunity - Norwich - £22,000

£18000 - £22000 per annum + training: Ashdown Group: Business and Marketing Gr...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£20000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

£20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Labour leader Ed Miliband unveils Labour's pledges carved into a stone plinth in Hastings  

Election 2015: Smash two-party system! Smash the voting system!

Armando Iannucci
Tactical voting is a necessary evil of the current first-past-the-post system, where voters vote against what they do not want rather than in favour of what they do  

Election 2015: Voting tactically has become more fraught in the new political order

Michael Ashcroft
General Election 2015: Ed Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

Miliband's unlikely journey from hapless geek to heart-throb

He was meant to be Labour's biggest handicap - but has become almost an asset
General Election 2015: A guide to the smaller parties, from the the National Health Action Party to the Church of the Militant Elvis Party

On the margins

From Militant Elvis to Women's Equality: a guide to the underdogs standing in the election
Amr Darrag: Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister in exile still believes Egypt's military regime can be replaced with 'moderate' Islamic rule

'This is the battle of young Egypt for the future of our country'

Ex-Muslim Brotherhood minister Amr Darrag still believes the opposition can rid Egypt of its military regime and replace it with 'moderate' Islamic rule, he tells Robert Fisk
Why patients must rely less on doctors: Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'

Why patients must rely less on doctors

Improving our own health is the 'blockbuster drug of the century'
Sarah Lucas is the perfect artist to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale

Flesh in Venice

Sarah Lucas has filled the British pavilion at the Venice Biennale with slinky cats and casts of her female friends' private parts. It makes you proud to be a woman, says Karen Wright
11 best anti-ageing day creams

11 best anti-ageing day creams

Slow down the ageing process with one of these high-performance, hardworking anti-agers
Juventus 2 Real Madrid 1: Five things we learnt, including Iker Casillas is past it and Carlos Tevez remains effective

Juventus vs Real Madrid

Five things we learnt from the Italian's Champions League first leg win over the Spanish giants
Ashes 2015: Test series looks a lost cause for England... whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket

Ashes series looks a lost cause for England...

Whoever takes over as ECB director of cricket, says Stephen Brenkley
Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power