Anglican and Episcopalian church music
- Nicholas Temperley
The word ‘Anglican’ refers primarily to the Church of England, a moderately protestant state church established in 1549, and secondarily to a number of daughter churches founded in former British colonies and other countries around the world. The word ‘Episcopal’ or ‘Episcopalian’ was adopted by churches, such as those in Scotland and the USA, that espoused theological and liturgical principles similar to those of the Church of England but owed no allegiance to it as the English state church.
1. Anglicanism and Episcopalianism.
The term ‘Anglican’ implies recognition of the unique validity, for sacramental purposes, of the apostolic succession, through a hierarchy of bishops, priests and deacons: this belief, along with the use of a prescribed liturgy, distinguishes Anglicans and Episcopalians from most other protestant sects. In the Church of England proper, however, the conduct of public worship is governed by law, with the national legislature (sovereign and parliament) as the ultimate authority; since 1965, decisions regarding liturgy and worship have been effectively delegated to a General Synod. Almost all Anglican and Episcopalian churches now maintain membership of the Anglican Communion, a consultative body without supervisory powers, which holds a periodic conference at Lambeth (London) and recognizes the Archbishop of Canterbury as its titular head. In this article the word ‘Anglican’ will be used, where appropriate, to embrace Episcopalian as well as strictly Anglican traditions.
Anglican church music, originating in a blend of Catholic survival with Calvinist innovation, soon developed a number of distinctive forms, styles and practices. Many of these are still in use, although during the second half of the 20th century they have been diluted both by social and economic change and by the sharing and mixing of musical traditions among denominations and among cultures. The 450 years since the English Reformation have yielded an important and varied body of original music for choir, for organ and for congregation. This article covers such music when it was intended for use in worship; it does not embrace devotional sacred music intended for home or concert use.
2. The Pre-Reformation Church.
The early Tudor period (1485–1530) saw a great flowering of religious polyphony in England, in which the cathedrals and monasteries were joined by a host of lesser institutions such as collegiate churches, colleges, private chapels and endowed chantries. There was a new development of choir schools, where boys were trained to take full part in the chant-based polyphony that could now be heard in an unprecedented number of buildings, including some of the wealthier parish churches. The intricate church calendar allowed for a proliferation of special feasts, including local patronal festivals, often with processions; feasts of the Virgin Mary were especially prominent. The musical idiom was highly ornate, but conservative, by no means adopting the ‘pervasive imitation’ that prevailed in continental church music.
Henry VIII’s break with Rome (1534) was a purely political move, establishing national church government but leaving the practice of worship essentially undisturbed. During the rest of his reign Henry gave only sporadic support to the growing reform movement. William Tyndale and Miles Coverdale’s ‘Great Bible’ was printed and ordered to be placed in all churches (1539), and ‘lessons’ (bible readings in church) had to be in English from 1543. An English Litany was printed, with music, in 1544; it was a simple monophonic adaptation of plainchant. Otherwise the Latin liturgy continued with little change. Nevertheless, under the influence of Thomas Cranmer, archbishop of Canterbury from 1533, there was a notable simplification, both of the church calendar and of music, which showed a tendency to modify the luxuriance of earlier decades. The most significant change was the rapid decline of monastic music, as Henry systematically suppressed the abbeys and monasteries throughout the land (1536–40); eight of them, however, were refounded as secular cathedrals. The suppression of chantries, which had supplied the musical staff of many smaller churches, followed, but was completed only in 1548.
3. The English Reformation.
The accession in 1547 of Edward VI, who was a minor, brought the reforming party to power through successive lord protectors Edward Seymour, Duke of Somerset, and John Dudley, Duke of Northumberland. Under the guidance of Cranmer, a rapid succession of royal injunctions abolished the use of images, special ceremonies, Offices of the Virgin and masses for the dead. Experiments were conducted in the use of the vernacular. Finally, the Act of Uniformity (1549) imposed a uniform service book in English, the Book of Common Prayer, for use throughout the country. Two Offices, Matins and Evensong, replaced the eight of monastic tradition, while the Mass was revised as a Communion service (see Service). Many of the texts of pre-Reformation polyphony – graduals, alleluias, tracts, sequences, antiphons, responsories – disappeared almost without trace, but much remained in translated form. The calendar still retained feasts of the Virgin and major saints, but they were marked only by specially appointed psalms, collects (prayers), epistles and gospels. A new ordinance, unique to the Church of England, required that the entire Psalter be sung or said at Matins and Evensong in the course of each month, and it was divided into 60 portions for the purpose.
Despite its historic importance, the 1549 Prayer Book proved to be transitional. In 1552 a more radical revision replaced it, with several features of Calvinist origin. Matins and Evensong became Morning Prayer (including the Litany) and Evening Prayer, and certain psalms were introduced as alternatives to the daily canticles. In Communion (the words ‘commonly called the Mass’ being now dropped) the Kyrie gave way to the Ten Commandments with responses, the Gloria in excelsis was placed near the end, and the Benedictus qui venit and Agnus Dei were omitted. Various rubrics directing ‘clerks’ to sing were also removed.
Little more than a year later, Edward VI died and was succeeded by Mary I (reigned 1553–8), who brought back the Latin rite and submitted to Rome. But Elizabeth I, who followed her, cautiously returned to the reformed religion, forging a masterly compromise that came to be known as the Elizabethan Settlement. It was during her relatively stable reign that the Church of England became well enough entrenched in the hearts of many (but never all) English people to withstand and ultimately overcome the turmoil of the following century. For political reasons, the queen desired to accommodate as many as possible of her subjects within the national church. So the Church became, and still remains, an institution that could tolerate and embrace an unusually wide range of opinions and practices. The character of its music has varied from extreme Puritan to ultramontane Catholic.
The 1559 Act of Uniformity restored the Book of Common Prayer in a form that differed only in minor details (chiefly concerning vestments) from that of 1552. It gave little or no guidance in the matter of music, and a sharp distinction soon arose between the practice of choral foundations, where much of the surviving liturgy was sung by trained choirs, and that of parish churches, where the same liturgy was spoken and the music consisted largely of extra-liturgical metrical psalms sung by the congregation.
Although the number of endowed choral foundations had been vastly reduced, Elizabeth was anxious to maintain those that had survived. Choral foundations still existed in 22 cathedrals – Bristol, Canterbury, Carlisle, Chester, Chichester, Durham, Ely, Exeter, Gloucester, Hereford, Lichfield, Lincoln, London (St Paul’s; see London §I 2., (i)), Norwich, Oxford, Peterborough, Rochester, Salisbury, Wells, Winchester, Worcester and York; two ‘royal peculiars’ – Westminster Abbey (see London §I 1., (ii)) and St George’s, Windsor; some half-dozen Oxford and Cambridge colleges and those of Eton and Winchester; and one collegiate parish church, Southwell, to which Ripon was added in 1604, Wimborne in about 1630 and Manchester in 1635.
But many of these bodies were unable to maintain efficient choirs. The combined effect of the dissolution of monasteries and the assertion of royal supremacy had been to exalt the Chapel Royal (see London, §III, 1(i–ii) ) over all other choral foundations, and it was there, during the next 200 years, that the most important developments took place in the production and performance of liturgical music and anthems, with Westminster and St Paul’s taking second and third place. The Chapel Royal was not a single building, but a foundation headed by a dean, with some 32 ‘gentlemen’ (male singers), 12 boy choristers under a master, and at least two organists – much larger forces than any cathedral could boast. They followed the sovereign from one place to another, singing in the royal chapels at Whitehall, Greenwich, Richmond, Hampton Court and Windsor.
For convenience, the choral music sung at all these endowed foundations is generally known as ‘cathedral music’, and this usage will be followed here.
4. English cathedral music, 1549–1645.
All parts of the new liturgy, including the daily psalms, could be spoken where no musicians were to be found. They could also be intoned or chanted in much the same way as the Latin rite, the priest being answered by one or more clerks in unison; and this was undoubtedly the practice in the early years at many churches. John Marbeck’s Booke of Common Praier Noted (1550) gives a good idea of how this was achieved by simple adaptation of the Sarum chant. Where there was a choir, it sang the responses and psalms in unison on ordinary days, and in simple homophony on feast days, continuing the improvised practice of the older Faburden. This was the context of the four- and five-part sets of responses by Thomas Tallis (c1505–85), and of his ‘festal’ psalms: all of them are straightforward settings of Gregorian tones in the tenor. Later they would become the model for freely composed responses and psalm chants respectively.
In larger choral foundations where polyphony had been the rule, the liturgy presented both a stimulus and a challenge. The two complete choirs (Decani and cantoris), generally in five vocal parts each, facing each other across the central aisle, remained a feature of cathedrals and college chapels, and more especially of the Chapel Royal, where Queen Elizabeth encouraged musical elaboration and high ceremony. Certain texts called for polyphonic treatment, at least on festal occasions: the daily canticles (Venite, Te Deum or Benedicite, and Benedictus or Jubilate at Morning Prayer; Magnificat or Cantate Domino and Nunc dimittis or Deus misereatur at Evening Prayer; see Canticle, §4) and what remained of the Mass Proper in the Communion service (the Responses to the Commandments – often called Kyrie – Sanctus, Creed and Gloria in excelsis). Organs were available to accompany and to play voluntaries. At the same time, however, the new theology frowned on the use of music unless it was justified by text, and required simple and clear articulation of the English words, which was often incompatible with the older polyphonic texture; while in many parts of the country, including some cathedrals, church authorities of more Puritan leanings were pressing for more radical changes.
Fortunately, Elizabeth’s Injunctions of 1559 contained a well-crafted passage that not only showed the way out of the dilemma, but virtually set the course of music in the Church for most of its subsequent history:
And that there be a modest distinct song, so used in all parts of the common prayers in the church, that the same may be as plainly understood, as if it were read without singing, and yet nevertheless, for the comforting of such that delight in music, it may be permitted that in the beginning, or in the end of common prayers, either at morning or evening, there may be sung an hymn, or such like song, to the praise of Almighty God, in the best sort of melody and music that may be conveniently devised, having respect that the sentence of the hymn may be understood and perceived.
The ‘modest distinct song’ was maintained in the psalms and responses, and, to a great extent, in canticle settings as well, which tended to be syllabic and largely homorhythmic. There was the ‘short service’, of which those by Tallis, Byrd and Orlando Gibbons are the classic examples. (Byrd’s elaborate Great Service was probably not used outside the Chapel Royal.) But before or after the service greater freedom was allowed, and it quickly became conventional to perform a more elaborate piece at the end of Morning and Evening Prayer. This ‘hymn, or such like song’ permitted a wide range of texts that could include metrical paraphrases or original poems as well as biblical and liturgical passages. Short, memorable texts could be chosen, and their words could be repeated in a series of points of imitation towards a climax, in the manner of Franco-Flemish polyphony, which was seldom possible in a canticle setting. And in this context the Injunctions encouraged ‘the best sort of melody and music’, although the text must still be intelligible.
So the Anthem found its place in worship, as a simplified descendant of the votive antiphon. The way was open for it to become the vehicle for some of the most creative and characteristic music of the English choir service. When, in 1662, additional prayers were added to the end of Morning and Evening Prayer, the customary place of the anthem after the third collect (which before then had ended the service) was now recognized in the famous ‘anthem rubric’: ‘In quires and places where they sing, here followeth the anthem’.
It is true that there was continuous opposition to elaborate music from the Puritan wing. In some provincial cathedrals, such as York, Norwich and Winchester, the authorities succeeded for a time in imposing much stricter standards: at Winchester in 1571, for instance, Bishop Horne banned both melismas and text repetitions. But the queen and her two Stuart successors had the ultimate power to impose their will in matters of worship, until indeed the monarchy itself was overthrown by the Puritan party. Particularly at the Chapel Royal, which alone had the resources to perform difficult and elaborate choir music, composers were free to put forth their best efforts. With growing confidence they worked out an idiom that preserved continuity with the polyphonic glories of the Latin past, but which catered for, and occasionally dramatized, the more varied vowel sounds, word-endings, stresses and intonation patterns of English prose. These trends can already be observed in the surviving sources from the Edwardian period, more particularly in the music of John Sheppard and Tallis. They were further developed in the next generation by William Mundy, Richard Farrant and Byrd. These three composers began to develop the ‘verse anthem’, a new genre in which sections for a solo voice (verses) with organ accompaniment alternated with shorter choral sections.
The later Elizabethan and Jacobean period (c1588–1625) is often called a Golden Age in English cultural history; certainly, it is a high point in the history of Anglican choral music. The defeat of the Spanish Armada and the ending of a long period of monetary inflation boosted national self-confidence. The Church, after decades of uncertainty, seemed secure and stable, and music’s place in it was warmly extolled in the great apologia for Anglicanism, Richard Hooker’s Laws of Ecclesiastical Polity (v, 1597, §39). After a long decline in the standards of cathedral choirs, there was a much greater willingness to devote resources to music, especially after 1600. Somewhat surprisingly, however, there are almost no contemporary sources of the nearly 2000 Anglican choral compositions dating from the period, and we are dependent on post-1630 manuscript cathedral partbooks, plus two printed sets: John Barnard’s The First Book of Selected Church Musick (1641/R), a wide-ranging collection, and Musica Deo sacra (1668), consisting entirely of the work of Thomas Tomkins.
The towering figure of the period, William Byrd (1543–1623), contributed the magnificent and highly innovative Great Service, other service music, responses and festal psalms, but probably ‘no more than a handful of anthems for liturgical use’ (Le Huray, 1967, p.238). His earlier, simpler work was probably written for Lincoln Cathedral; he became a Gentleman of the Chapel Royal in 1570. However, he was far more prolific as a composer of Latin church music, and of devotional consort songs and partsongs with English texts, many of them published. His true anthems, both ‘full’ and ‘verse’, are striking for their dramatic qualities and word-painting. The most important of Byrd’s younger contemporaries were Thomas Morley, Edmund Hooper and Nathaniel Giles, all of whom strongly developed the verse anthem. Morley’s setting of the Burial Service is the earliest of its kind.
In the next generation the greatest names are Tomkins, Thomas Weelkes and Gibbons. Tomkins spent much of his long life at Worcester Cathedral, Weelkes at Chichester (which had only a ‘half’ choir and certainly could not have performed his more ambitious works), while Gibbons’s career was at the Chapel Royal and Westminster Abbey. All were prolific: Weelkes wrote as many as nine services, one fully on the scale of Byrd’s Great Service. Gibbons (1583–1625) ‘best epitomizes the special flavour of Jacobean church music’ (Caldwell, 1991, p.369). His Short Service in F, which has never been absent from the repertory, and his famous verse anthems, such as This is the record of John, are less dramatic in their word-painting than some of their predecessors, but are notable for their calm restraint and dignity, induced perhaps by the improved conditions of the Church, and for their impeccable verbal declamation, reflecting the high literary culture of the age of Shakespeare and of the King James Bible (1611). No music of any period more cogently expresses the Anglican ideal.
The best summary of performing practice for the period is given by Le Huray (1967, chap.4). Most sets of partbooks consisted of eight to ten volumes, divided into decani and cantoris: each had medius (or mean: a low-lying treble part), altus (countertenor, a high tenor part), sometimes a second altus, tenor and bassus. In addition there was often an organ book giving an outline in short score. Some pieces have an additional triplex (high treble), but it was comparatively rare. This reflects the customary division of the human voice into five ranges: treble and mean for children’s and women’s voices; countertenor, tenor and bass for men’s. Among men, the tenor was the most common voice, roughly corresponding in range and tessitura to the modern baritone, while the countertenor was a high tenor. There is no mention in surviving descriptions or treatises of the falsetto or ‘head voice’ practised by modern countertenors. Most choirs had about twice as many men as boys: the largest, that of the Chapel Royal, had 32 men (of which 16 were employed for ordinary weekday services, but all 32 on Sundays and feast days) and 12 boys.
Authentic ten- or even eight-part writing is comparatively rare, but the available parts were used in various combinations. ‘Verse’ anthems and services distinguished between sections of one voice to a part and those for the full choir; antiphonal singing between the two sides was also frequently used. There is evidence that choirs sang unaccompanied at some cathedrals. Elsewhere, organs doubled the voice parts and may have added ornaments and preludes. Vocal ornamentation was practised in solo passages. From the 1570s onwards some cathedrals and the Chapel Royal had cornetts and sackbuts, and possibly other instruments, to augment the voices on special occasions. The viol accompaniments provided for certain anthems were probably intended for domestic use.
James I (reigned 1603–25) had disappointed the Puritans’ hopes for further reforms. Instead, there grew up in his time a ‘high-church’ party, preferring Arminian to Calvinist theology and re-emphasizing the Church’s Catholic and Apostolic roots. James’s successor, Charles I, moved decisively in that direction, and under William Laud (bishop of London from 1627, archbishop of Canterbury from 1633) energetic efforts were made to enforce every detail of the prescribed liturgy, to revive ritual practices and to encourage elaborate music. The move drew little popular support, but Laud’s visitations of provincial cathedrals spurred the chapters to repair organs, replenish deficient choirs and restore music to those portions of the service where it had fallen into disuse. Such insistence on high-church practices, regardless of the wishes of local authorities and congregations, was one of the factors leading to the downfall of Laud and, eventually, of the king himself.
The choir music of this period is the first to show some slight influence of the stile nuovo, in a more theatrical declamation of texts and in the Gabrieli-like opposition between blocks of chordal harmony. The traditional contrapuntal style was also maintained, but generally without the strength or individuality of the Jacobean period: the exception was Tomkins, who was still active and whose music retained its old quality. The leading composers of the younger generation, William Lawes, George Jeffries and William Child, contributed a substantial amount of music, but it rarely rises above competence. The service settings in particular, generally of the ‘short’ variety, are colourless and perfunctory in effect. Lawes introduced a formal innovation – the verse anthem in which the refrain was a metrical psalm tune sung by the full choir; but his specimens had no successors.
5. English cathedral music, 1660–1830.
After the parliamentary victory in the Civil War, the Long Parliament abolished the Book of Common Prayer in 1644 and introduced a Presbyterian form of worship. Parliamentary troops were allowed to go on a rampage, destroying statues, stained glass and organs wherever they could. Choral services ceased at dates varying between 1642 and 1647. Anglicans now had the same standing as Catholics: a persecuted sect, worshipping only in secret. Both Latin and English sacred music for the purpose has survived from this period.
The Restoration of Charles II in 1660 immediately brought back Church and Prayer Book. The Chapel Royal was quickly re-established, but many cathedrals took some time to restore their organs and choirs. There was naturally a shortage of trained singers, particularly boys, and the king’s agents scoured the country to take the most promising singers for the Chapel Royal. There was a need to recover familiarity with the old choral traditions and texts: two manuals (Lowe, Clifford) were printed for the purpose.
Once again, the Puritans had hoped for further reforms friendly to their position (which had been promised them by Charles in the Declaration of Breda, 1660) but were disappointed. On the contrary, the royalist parliament was vindictive and reactionary and ushered in a period of persecution of Dissenters. A new Act of Uniformity (1662) ratified a further revision of the Prayer Book, which now for the first time incorporated the prose Psalter (in the Great Bible translation of 1534). Because of their unwillingness to subscribe to the Act, more than 2000 Presbyterian vicars and rectors forfeited their parish livings. But the changes had little practical effect on the music of choral foundations. Until the Act of Uniformity Amendment Act (1872), Morning Prayer in all churches still had to be followed by the Litany (on certain days) and the first part of Communion (‘ante-Communion’), the latter now often known as ‘second service’.
The return to tradition was clearly more than just a matter of taking up the story where it had been interrupted in the 1640s. The very validity of monarchy was vested in the past, and there was a conscious denial of recent history and a reaching back to earlier times, expressed (for example) in the choice of the 1534 translation of the psalms, the self-conscious maintenance of Gothic traditions in Anglican church building and typesetting, and the revival of ‘golden age’ and earlier music in preference to that of Charles I’s reign. The language of the Prayer Book itself was not updated. It was already acquiring the halo of antiquity.
Older composers such as Child (1606/7–97) took the lead in evolving a style that both upheld and simplified the tradition. Their music was typically for four voices or less (although many cathedrals were able to revive double choirs). It was melodious rather than contrapuntal, with conservative harmony and part-writing and an emphasis on the solo voice. Such music slowly developed in the provincial cathedrals over the next 170 years, changing its style almost imperceptibly with the development of Classical tonality, but well behind the fashions of secular muisc. The short service, in particular, settled into a durable stereotype, now often reduced to the Te Deum, Jubilate, Magnificat and Nunc dimittis. Choral Communion ended with the Creed, after which a sermon was preached in the nave, preceded and followed in many cathedrals by metrical psalms sung congregationally and accompanied on the organ. When Communion was celebrated (an increasingly infrequent observance), there was a persistent tradition of singing a metrical Communion Hymn while the people took the bread and wine.
In contrast, Charles II’s personal tastes, formed during his long exile at the court of Louis XIV, were French, modern and worldly. At the Chapel Royal he gradually replaced the cornetts and sackbuts, first with viols and then with instruments of the violin family, in imitation of Louis’ ‘quarante violons’: there were 20 musicians involved from 1673 until the end of the reign (1685). The king soon made clear his dislike of severe counterpoint and his preference for jaunty, triple-time movements and dotted rhythms to which he could tap his foot, and he sent Pelham Humfrey to France to learn the new styles, which Humfrey and other composers obligingly imitated in their music for the Chapel. In a typical ‘symphony anthem’, the strings were generally used for symphonies of the French overture type and ritornellos between the vocal sections, while verses for solo or for male trio had a more prominent place than the full choir. Triple time was favoured. Many bland specimens of this formula have survived, often ending with extended alleluias. For coronations, victory celebrations and festivals, there were special anthems and settings of the Te Deum and Jubilate with trumpets.
But the extraordinarily gifted group of composers assembled in London at this time were not content merely to cater to vacuous royal preferences. They created what today is recognized as the distinctive ‘Restoration’ idiom, of which the pioneer was Matthew Locke (c1621–77). The extraordinary dissonance, angularity and unpredictability of his personal style would hardly have commended itself to the king. As a Catholic, Locke was appointed organist to Queen Catherine, but he composed several anthems for the Chapel Royal, and they were undoubtedly influential in the brilliant stylistic developments that followed in the hands of Humfrey, John Blow, Henry Purcell, and their lesser contemporaries. The influence of the French grand motet and the Italian psalm and solo cantata can be detected in their music, but the style is nevertheless distinctively English. These composers revelled in harmonic colour and in the powers of the solo voice, especially the bass and the countertenor; and they delighted in declamatory passages, where individual words could be seized on for dramatic representation, which was sometimes carried to extremes.
The verse anthem was the principal vehicle for these developments. It had become a form divided (like a cantata) into sections, often with contrasting metres and tempos but rarely departing from the tonic key, unless into the parallel mode. A subcategory was the ‘solo anthem’, where a single voice monopolized the whole work except for a perfunctory closing section, often an alleluia, for the choir. Even anthems designated ‘full’ generally had a verse section in the middle, but the traditional, seamless, full anthem was never entirely forgotten, however dull and antiquated it might sound to king and courtiers.
These musical forms and practices were maintained without drastic change throughout the Georgian era (1714–1830). The Chapel Royal had lost its violins after Charles II’s death, and its last royal enthusiast was Queen Anne (reigned 1702–14); but it remained, in conjunction with Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s, the chief magnet for church musicians and the source of most new cathedral music of national importance. Many of the leading composers of the period – William Croft, Maurice Greene, William Boyce, Thomas Attwood, to name only a few – were organists of one or more of the three London foundations. The provincial cathedrals and other endowed choirs, though occasionally fostering distinguished music, were generally in decline. They were starved of funds and moral support by governing bodies often composed of well-connected place-holders with no real interest in music or even in religion. Some of the smaller foundations were barely able to maintain daily choral services. By the early 19th century there was a tendency, deplored by some writers, to chant the canticles and to replace anthems with simple hymn tunes or adaptations of popular melodies. Excerpts from Handel’s oratorios and from Haydn’s and Mozart’s masses (adapted to English texts) were also frequently used as anthem substitutes after 1800.
Nevertheless, in a period when native secular music was more and more neglected or spurned by the governing classes, the choral foundations offered a haven of security for English musicians and allowed composers to flourish with relatively little competition from foreigners. Additional public support was offered in the form of occasional musical festivals in cathedrals, generally accompanied by a sermon in praise of cathedral music. Composers began to publish their own services and anthems in full score, engraved folio, by subscription – a venture pioneered by Croft in his Musica sacra (1724) and followed by more than 30 composers in the next hundred years. These were joined by anthologies of earlier music, such as those edited by Boyce, Samuel Arnold and John Page. Cathedral chapters would often subscribe to one or a few copies of these expensive volumes and use them as a basis for hand-copied parts. Singing from score, though advocated by Croft and others, did not become generally practicable until the advent of cheap octavo scores in the mid-19th century.
The intensity of expression found in the great Restoration anthems was gradually dissipated, together with the chromaticism, dissonance and melodic and rhythmic exuberance that had been its vehicles. A smoother, more predictable product came into being, well expressing the rationalism and moderation that characterized Anglican belief in this period. The influences of opera seria, Handelian oratorio and the Viennese classics were successively absorbed, but they never wholly ousted the typically English and Anglican character of cathedral music, with its conscious restraint and sobriety, its permanent association with the now archaic language of the English Bible and Prayer Book and its distinctive rhetorical style. Pale echoes of the triple-time dotted rhythms of the Restoration period persisted into the 19th century, and the declamatory idiom of Purcell never descended to mere recitative. Even the old ‘English ending’ (the cross-relation produced by a descending flat 7th at a cadence) can be found here and there as late as 1800. Within this conservative idiom, composers such as Maurice Greene, John Alcock, Jonathan Battishill and John Christmas Beckwith were capable of rising on occasion to considerable heights of musical expression, especially in the pathetic vein.
There was still a preference for verse and solo anthems, not so much for the dramatic opportunities they offered as for their usefulness when a full choir could not be mustered, which was all too often the case. Ornaments, cadenzas and organ interludes were freely added in the performance of solo sections. The short service was joined, in the early 19th century, by the short (one-section) full anthem, easy to sing and understand, often based on one of the collects or on a metrical text; at its best it could be quite devotional in effect.
During this period Anglican chant evolved into the form known today. Beginning at the Chapel Royal under Charles II, a large number of chants were composed, at first in imitation of the harmonized Gregorian psalm tones, then in a more up-to-date tonal idiom. The double chant, encompassing two verses of a psalm, became a balanced classical structure of 20 chords with a half-cadence in the middle. At the same time the recited syllables, instead of being sung evenly with an occasional long note as formerly, had to be crowded into the time of a semibreve while the organist played the reciting note in slow strict time. This barbarous practice persisted despite frequent criticism of ‘gabbling’. The notation expressing it, still used for chants today, was first adopted in print by Alcock (1752). In most cathedrals psalms were chanted antiphonally with organ accompaniment. The responses were more often unaccompanied, even unharmonized in some places, and in the various cathedrals gradually evolved into quite distinct versions, some of which were recorded by Jebb (1847). A few original sets of responses and litanies were brought into use.
6. English parochial music, 1549–1830.
The suppression of chantries (1548) left the vast majority of parishes destitute of funds to support organs, organists, or paid singers, unless they were willing to tax themselves for the purpose. A handful of country parishes, such as Ludlow and Newark, were able to benefit from special endowments and so to maintain some choral polyphony. A few London parishes retained small choirs and organs into the first years of Elizabeth’s reign, but by about 1571 the choirs had gone and most of the organs had fallen into disrepair or disuse (for detailed statistics see Willis). There remained only the Parish clerk, who was still officially required to lead the singing and responses, but who was less and less well equipped to do so.
For this reason, more than for any ideological cause, the singing in parish churches soon became strictly congregational. The people could not chant or sing the liturgy, but they could sing simple strophic songs monophonically to known tunes, and they evidently relished the opportunity to do so, a possibility that had not existed before the Reformation. The quoted Injunction of 1559 that had authorized anthems before and after service was also used to justify metrical psalms or hymns, and in the course of time the custom of singing before and after sermons also became widespread.
Congregational singing had been established for decades among the Bohemian Brethren, Lutherans and Calvinists. It had been practised by the Protestant exiles from the Continent at Austin Friars, London, in Edward VI’s time and may have been tried out in English churches. Metrical psalm paraphrases suitable for the purpose were already in use for private devotion and at court, and several sets were published with the idea that they might replace ‘rhymes of vanity’ for private singing. Those of Thomas Sternhold were of this type; their plain language and consistent use of common or ballad metre assured their popularity when, after Sternhold’s death in 1549, his 37 psalms were published in complete form in an edition by John Hopkins, a country clergyman, who added a further 7 versions in similar style. They were used by the Protestant exiles in Frankfurt, Geneva and elsewhere during the reign of Mary I and became the nucleus of The Whole Booke of Psalmes (London, 1562). This collection, later known as the Old Version, was the basis of English parochial music for more than 200 years. In addition to versions of all 150 psalms it contained metrical paraphrases of other biblical and liturgical texts and nine original hymns. (For further description and discussion of the book, see Psalms, metrical, §III).
Puritan leaders, following Calvinist doctrine, approved of this development because the Bible enjoined the singing of psalms by ‘young men and maidens, old men and children’. But they insisted that the object was not beauty of sound; it was merely an opportunity for each individual to praise God with the heart and the understanding. Metrical paraphrases were accepted as a means for the people to sing, but they were to be as close to the Hebrew as possible, regardless of poetic quality. Choirs and organs to improve the musical effect were mere vanity, for God would be better pleased by a ‘hoarse or base sound’, if sincere, than by the finest of trained voices singing for money. Circumstances happened to favour this outcome in English parish churches, but its success was due less to the popularity of Puritan doctrine than to the pleasures of communal singing.
There may have been some early use of existing ballad tunes for the metrical psalms, but if so, no such tunes have been traced in the printed psalm books, which contain a large number of anonymous, rather characterless eight-line tunes in addition to some French and German imports for psalms of unusual metre. They arose from an uneasy compromise between the style of tunes in the French metrical psalter, beginning every line with a semibreve, and the almost unvarying iambic metres of Sternhold and Hopkins’s psalms (see Quitslund and Temperley), There were early attempts to teach people to sing from notes, found in the prefaces to the psalm books, some of which (from 1569) used sol-fa letters printed alongside the notes; in some parishes schoolchildren were taught to sing the tunes and lead the congregation.
In the course of Elizabeth’s reign a number of striking four-line tunes emerged, largely superseding the earlier ones in popularity. They became the staple of English-language psalmody. Many of them have been in continuous use since that time. Several editors printed four-part harmonizations for domestic use and began the distinctively English practice of assigning geographical names to tunes. Among the most enduring of these tunes have been ‘Old 100th’, taken from the French Genevan Psalter of 1551; ‘Cambridge’ (1579); ‘Canterbury’/‘Low Dutch’ (1585); ‘Windsor’ (1591); ‘Winchester’ (1592); ‘St David’s’ (1621); and a group from the Scottish psalm book of 1615 – ‘Dundee’, ‘Martyrs’ and ‘York’. The dates are those of first printings, but it is likely that most of them were already in common use.
It was comparatively rare at this date for professional composers to publish new tunes under their own names, but there were three notable collaborations: Tallis provided nine four-part tunes, including the famous ‘Canon’, for Archbishop Parker’s Whole Psalter (1567); Gibbons wrote 15 tunes for tenor and bass to go with George Wither’s Hymnes and Songs of the Church (1620); and Henry Lawes furnished 24 two-part tunes for George Sandys’ A Paraphrase upon the Psalmes of David (1638). None of these tunes became popular until the 18th century.
Congregational psalm singing was largely ignored by the educated classes, including the clergy, and, being entirely unregulated, tended to drag and to accumulate melodic changes and improvised harmonizations. It gradually evolved into an extremely slow heterophony that came to be known as the Old Way of Singing. At the same time the repertory of commonly known tunes dwindled to little more than a dozen. Neither Commonwealth nor Restoration brought much change. There was nothing in the current practice that Puritans found objectionable, but they did introduce one innovation in 1645: Lining out by the minister or elder, where each line was read out before singing for the benefit of those who could not read or had no book. The custom survived the Restoration, becoming the responsibility of parish clerks, who tended to turn the reading into a kind of chanting.
Movements to reform parochial psalmody gradually gained strength in the later 17th century, one of the principal movers being John Playford (i) (see Playford family family, (1)). The motive was perhaps a mixture of piety and the desire for concrete symbols of a growing affluence and sophistication. The high-church party, which was once more gaining ground in the Church, believed in the value of art as an offering to God in worship and consequently gave new and much-needed attention to musical quality and effect. Religious societies were formed in many parishes, consisting mainly of young men who attended regular meetings under the vicar, to pray, to listen to moral precepts and, in many cases, to learn how to sing the psalms from musical notation. From this point on, two distinct traditions of parochial psalmody emerged, one in urban, the other in rural churches (see Psalmody).
The wealthier town parishes, including many in London, Westminster and the larger ports and market towns, were able to install organs (usually donated or paid for by subscription) and to find and pay an organist to play them. Frequently, also, they maintained a charity school (the first being that of St Margaret, Westminster, opened in 1688), which provided uniformed, disciplined children to lead the psalm singing from the organ gallery. Thus, with the help of the young men of the religious society, an accompanied mixed choir could be heard in the more affluent churches in about 1700, and a certain amount of music to cater for this combination has survived. Two- and three-part settings of psalm tunes were published, and Henry Playford (see Playford family family, (2)) in The Divine Companion (1701) introduced a new concept, the parochial anthem, a simple three-part piece in one section; he commissioned anthems, hymns and psalm tunes from Jeremiah Clarke, Croft, and other prominent musicians of the day.
Although the primary intent had been for the choir to lead the congregation in the singing of metrical psalms, the practical result was often that people fell silent and listened to the children singing with the organ. The religious societies had disappeared by about 1740, and treble-based tune settings in one or two vocal parts for children became the norm; charity hymns and anthems were written for use at the annual charity sermon to raise funds for the school. Once a year all the London charity children combined in an impressive ceremony, held at St Paul’s from 1801 onwards.
Nahum Tate and Nicholas Brady brought out A New Version of the Psalms of David (London, 1696) to cater for the new appreciation of elegance in psalmody, as opposed to literalness. It did not overtake the Old Version in popularity for another hundred years, but a musical Supplement (6/1708) contained more new tunes of artistic quality, including such permanent favourites as ‘St Anne’ (by Croft) and ‘Hanover’ (possibly by Croft). This set the stage for a long succession of tunes, to which leading cathedral composers did not disdain to set their names. Generally the tune was in the treble, with or without a second treble, and with a figured bass that could also be sung. Treble-based psalmody was strongly cultivated in the London charitable institutions founded under Anglican auspices in later Georgian times (see London §I 5.). In a few town parishes, for instance at St Nicholas, Newcastle upon Tyne, when John Brown was rector and Charles Avison was organist, the ideal of hearty congregational singing was realized.
In many rural parishes, the societies of young men survived and rapidly turned into voluntary choirs, where they were occasionally joined by female singers or children, although the tenor remained the tune-bearing voice. Again, the original purpose of leading the congregation was gradually lost as the singers in their enthusiasm sought out anthems and elaborate tunes with solos and duets, ornaments and melismas, tempo changes and (eventually) ‘fuging’ sections that effectively excluded the congregation. They demanded and generally acquired a place in the church where they could sing as a body, either a special pew or a gallery. The first models for their music were found in the publications of the Playfords, but a new breed of country singing teacher grew up rapidly in the early 18th century, often journeying in a large region, teaching parish choirs and selling his own books as he went. A particularly strong area for these activities was the north Midlands, including Lancashire and the West Riding of Yorkshire, where some parish choirs even began to chant the psalms, responses and litany along cathedral lines and to sing settings of the canticles as well as anthems.
Parochial anthems and canticle settings by relatively untrained, self-appointed country singing masters began to appear in print soon after 1710 and are commonly found up to early Victorian times. The fuging tune, developed by Michael Beesly in Oxfordshire in the late 1730s, enjoyed a heyday of a few decades until trained composers such as Samuel Arnold began to take over the tradition by writing ‘correct’ specimens. There was also a large output of plain tunes from rural sources, some of which, such as ‘Wareham’ (by William Knapp, parish clerk of Poole), have survived in common use until today. In general, through the introduction of non-functional harmonies, accidental clashes, parallelisms, and other naiveties that condemned it in the eyes of the town dweller, this music departed to a greater or lesser extent from the canons of art music. It often disregarded verbal stresses, showed little understanding of tonality or the treatment of dissonance, and preserved archaic features such as open 5ths and 4ths and unsharpened leading notes, while at the same time retaining enough of its original models to preserve a general resemblance to the style of Restoration cathedral music. Considered on its own terms, however, the music is fresh, hearty and inventive, and it has been successfully revived in modern times under the general designation of (West) Gallery music.
The music continued to be tenor-led until late in the 18th century, and was often accompanied by a small band of wind and string instruments, growing from the single bassoon or ‘bass viol’ (cello) that had been more usual before mid-century. After 1800 increasing give-and-take with dissenting choirs and bands led to the influence of a different style of tune, treble-led and deriving from more recent art and theatre music, fostered by Methodism (see Methodist church music). Country bands were fiercely independent and resistant to change, but dissatisfaction with their music grew with the Evangelical movement and the industrialization or suburbanization of many villages. Eventually, most country choirs and bands were displaced by barrel organs (a new way of dealing with the difficulty of attracting organists to country churches), or later by harmoniums or small pipe organs which could often be played by the vicar’s wife or daughter. The last area of survival was the West Country; in 1895 there were still 18 out of 219 parish churches in Cornwall housing instrumental bands, and Galpin described one at Winterbourne Abbas, Dorset, that lasted untll 1896.
The Evangelical movement, which began in the mid-18th century but wielded only minor influence on worship until the 19th, can be roughly defined as that portion of Methodism that remained within the Church. Evangelicals wished to revive the religious spirit in services which they saw as lifeless and perfunctory, and to bring about the ‘conversion’ of individual souls to Christ. The musical results of their efforts included the gradual introduction of hymns, often with highly emotional content, to replace metrical psalms (a change that was stoutly challenged by orthodox Anglicans but was declared legal by the consistory court of York in 1820) and to revive hearty congregational participation in the singing. In some places this included congregational chanting of the canticles, psalms and responses, an entirely new development that would lead to great change in the Victorian period.
7. Organ music in the service, 1549–1830.
The organ has always been called upon to fill in gaps in the liturgy, during processions, the collection of alms, the taking of Communion by the congregation, and special ceremonies such as baptism; and also, of course, before and after the service, and between Litany and ante-Communion. In the Church of England there was an additional custom of playing a voluntary in the middle of Morning or Evening Prayer, either after the second lesson or before the first, which lasted well into the 19th century: Samuel Wesley, for instance, published a set of ‘middle voluntaries’. It was quite possibly a vestige of the medieval respond – this is suggested by the generic name ‘verse’ that was often used for organ pieces – although in general the practice of using the organ to substitute for voices did not survive the Reformation. Short preludes and even interludes were sometimes used with anthems.
Such music was normally improvised. But composers from Tallis to Tomkins left a surprisingly large amount of organ music based on Sarum chant, whose purpose is as difficult to determine as that of Latin church music. It may have been used at the Chapel Royal, especially under Elizabeth I, or in Catholic noblemen’s chapels, but it hardly seems likely to have been acceptable in the cathedral service, and the general consensus is that most of it was written for virginals. More probable candidates for church use are pieces called Voluntary and other free contrapuntal works: short ‘verses’ and ‘points’ as preludes or interludes, and perhaps the longer fantasias, such as those of Gibbons, for solos before, during and after service. Solo organ music based on metrical psalm tunes is rarely found before 1700: the complete list comprises two examples in the Mulliner Book (c1550) and a single voluntary, by either Blow or Purcell, based on the tune ‘Old 100th’.
From the Restoration onwards changes in organ design stimulated the development of a new type of voluntary that exploited contrasts between manuals and, especially, solos on bassoon, trumpet or cornett stops. After 1700 a sufficient number of parish churches had organs to make the publication of organ music worthwhile. Several sets of ‘givings-out’ and interludes to be used with psalm tunes appeared, beginning with a set by Blow in 1703; in 1710 Walsh reprinted some Italian organ sonatas as ‘voluntaries’; and a long series of organists, beginning with Thomas Roseingrave, of St George’s, Hanover Square in London, in 1728, published original sets of voluntaries, typically in two or three movements. Among the most significant were John Stanley and Samuel Wesley.
8. The Church of England after 1830.
The Oxford Movement, also called ‘Tractarianism’ after the series of Tracts for the Times that expressed its views, began in the 1830s as an effort to return to a perceived age of faith. It sought to undo much of the Reformation (and many in the movement, led by John Henry Newman, eventually joined the Roman Catholic Church) and asserted the Church’s independence from state control. Although the Tractarians were concerned primarily with matters of theology and church government, they stimulated a ritualistic revival that came to be known as ‘Anglo-Catholic’, ‘Puseyite’ (after another prime mover, Edward Pusey) or simply ‘high church’: the latter term was somewhat misleading, as many high churchmen did not subscribe to the new ritualism. The Cambridge Camden Society, later the Ecclesiological Society, was a protagonist for many of these issues. A Society for Promoting Church Music was also formed and published its own journal, The Parish Choir (1846–51).
Those who remained in the Church of England generally obeyed the law by following the Book of Common Prayer, but they scrutinized the calendar and rubrics, reinterpreting them to justify the revival of observances, vestments, customs and gestures that had long since fallen into disuse. In matters on which the Prayer Book provided no guidance, including music, the changes they introduced were radical and, to many, shocking. They wished to eliminate almost all recent music, which they regarded as secular and meretricious, and to revive the austerity of plainchant (often in Marbeck’s adaptation), the Gregorian psalm tones, and both medieval and post-Tridentine Catholic hymns in translation (the Latin language was rarely admitted to public worship, even in the most Anglo-Catholic churches, before 1900). They hoped that congregations would learn to sing all this music unaccompanied, but here they had limited success beyond hymn singing and simple responses, and eventually they had to accept organs and rehearsed choirs. They also began the process of reviving polyphonic choral music of the Renaissance period, both English and continental. Certain pre-Reformation elements were reintroduced with questionable legality, such as introits, Office hymns and the Agnus Dei.
These changes had some effect on cathedral services, but they could be fully carried out only in private colleges and schools and in certain parish churches, often newly built for the purpose and usually situated in towns where a sympathetic congregation could be drawn from many surrounding parishes. One of the first such churches was Margaret Chapel, London, later rebuilt as All Saints, Margaret Street. There was also a revival of monastic orders within the Anglican Church, where the possibilities of Catholic worship could be explored with little opposition: by the end of the 20th century 25 religious communities remained (20 female, 5 male), of which some have continued to sing the Prayer Book liturgy to plainchant. The College of St Mark, Chelsea, a training school for teachers, was opened in 1841; it was there that Thomas Helmore developed the model for Anglo-Catholic choral service (see Rainbow, 1970).
In the end, the Oxford Movement was overtaken by a more general overhaul of the Church that was rooted in the transformation of public life following the industrial revolution. The parliamentary reforms of 1832 produced a demand for accountability in all public institutions. The long decay of the Church was halted, old sinecures and financial abuses swept away, parishes reorganized and a vast programme of building new churches undertaken. In return the government required that clergy and musicians be appointed on a basis of merit rather than influence, and high standards of performance were demanded. (Only four new cathedrals have been built since that time – Truro, Liverpool, Guildford and Coventry – but 18 parish churches have been converted into cathedrals, mostly between 1905 and 1927).
In cathedrals, daily choral services were gradually restored to full strength, attendance of choir members enforced, and standards of performance improved, notably after 1870, when John Stainer set a good example at St Paul’s. Frederick Ouseley founded a new college at St Michael’s, Tenbury (1856), to train cathedral singers and set up a model of the choral service. In the end, the amount of singing exceeded anything known since the Reformation, for even the opening and closing prayers were often intoned or chanted. Organists improvised changing harmonies during chanting and even in monotoned prayers and the General Confession. The ‘fully choral service’ became the model for parish churches, beginning at Leeds in 1841, and by the 1870s many affluent churches boasted a staff and a music list comparable to those of a cathedral. Parish choirs began to wear surplices, to occupy the chancel, to process in and out with the clergy and to rehearse the chanted psalms so as to unify their timing. Soon every church had an organ (now generally in the north or south chancel instead of the west gallery), or at least a harmonium, and maintained some sort of choir. In 1872, Trinity College, London, was founded for the purpose of training church musicians.
Thus the 300-year-old barrier between cathedral and parochial practice had been decisively breached. One result was a greatly increased demand for anthems and services, which were supplied by J.A. Novello and other publishers in various series of octavo editions of both old and new music. Composers responded by writing anthems and services that could be used in parish churches as well as cathedrals. Antiphonal writing for double choir was less often used; solos were shorter and more modest, to cater for amateur singers; alto parts were designed to accommodate women or children; extremes of vocal range were avoided; anthems and settings of moderate length were preferred; the musical style often owed more to the oratorios and concert music of the day than to the ancient cathedral tradition. Anthem texts, hitherto largely confined to the prose psalms, broadened to include many other parts of the bible and prayer book and, eventually, metrical hymns (see Horton).
In the mid-Victorian period, however, there was a consistently worked-out theory and practice of cathedral music proper (Gatens, 1986). The greatest composer of the age, Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–76), continued for a while to write in the grand manner and on a spacious scale, but he too began in later life to compromise with the new demands. It may well have been in the later Victorian period that the characteristic modern sound of English choirs was developed, depending as it does on the fluty, ethereal tone of boys’ voices, the impersonal falsetto of countertenors and the general avoidance of vibrato. Zechariah Buck, organist of Norwich Cathedral from 1817 to 1877, continued to train his boys in the older operatic manner, with ‘shakes’ as one of the principal goals of his instructions; but this was considered a matter for comment and explanation by his biographer (Kitton, 1899). Training manuals for choirmasters published after 1880 emphasized an Arnoldian ideal of discipline, and the merging of the individual voice in a unified choral texture.
The practice of chanting psalms changed, while the form of the chants (which had begun to be called ‘Anglican’ to distinguish them from Gregorian ones) remained the same. The Victorian concept, best represented in The Cathedral Psalter (1875) which, despite its name, was designated chiefly for parochial use, was to divide the chanting into a reciting portion to be sung freely, taking up as much time as the syllables required, and the concluding portion of each half-verse, sung in strict time. A further revolution occurred in the early 20th century, when the entire verse came to be sung in the natural rhythm of recited speech, entirely disregarding the musical rhythm of the chant as notated.
There was a great burgeoning of new hymn texts and tunes in the Victorian period, since the York decision of 1820 had established the legality of hymns in worship. While Anglo-Catholics found old hymns that strengthened the Catholic underpinnings of the Church, the Evangelicals used hymns to express the individual worshipper’s feelings of guilt, penitence and hope, while the Broad Church (liberal) party promoted hymns of brotherhood and unity, now more and more bound up with social reform, nationalism and imperialism. A new type of hymn tune, pioneered by John Bacchus Dykes and disseminated in the overwhelmingly successful Hymns Ancient and Modern (musical edition 1861), borrowed melodic and harmonic clichés from contemporary concert music. These tunes have proved more durable than almost any other Victorian music. Ingeniously varied organ accompaniments, and later ‘descants’ sung by the choir trebles, often treated the congregational melody as but one element in an elaborate composition. In a similar way, organists felt free to improvise romantically during the chanting of psalms and the intoning of prayers and creeds. The music of worship, in many parish churches as well as cathedrals, was becoming more like a concert with an audience.
An aesthetic reaction against Victorian tastes is already evident in Robert Bridges’ Yattendon Hymnal (London, 1899), and in the English Hymnal (London, 1906), both of which sought fresh inspiration in the revival of early psalm tunes and the use of rural folksong. Vaughan Williams, who was deeply involved in this process, also produced some of the best of all English hymn tunes. The revival of early cathedral music and plainchant and the ever higher performance standards of many cathedral and college choirs proceeded with little abatement. A distinguished series of composers continued to be inspired by the traditional choir service; in particular, a creative surge in the setting of the familiar daily canticles was sustained over a period of nearly 100 years in the services of C.V. Stanford, Charles Wood, Vaughan Williams, and Herbert Howells.
But these developments appealed chiefly to the educated minority, and it had become clear, especially after the War of 1914–18, that change of a different sort would be needed if Anglican church music was to retain any hold over the larger population. The Church of England was sharing in the general decline of faith in a secular and material age, and was moreover losing ground to Nonconformists and Roman Catholics, being all too readily identified with the gentry and an out-of-date paternalism. The call for liturgical renewal grew more and more insistent. A series of commissions was set up by the two archbishops in 1917; the one on church music produced a report, Music in Worship (1922), which stated unequivocally that ‘the ideal in all parish churches is congregational singing’. The hymn festival movement began to flourish at about this time as a kind of antidote to the regional choir festival that had originated in late Victorian times.
A moderate attempt to revise the Prayer Book (1928) was rejected by Parliament, but many of its changes were put into practice anyway. By the end of World War II a number of parishes had begun to treat Communion as the main Sunday service. While still adhering, in the main, to the 1662 liturgy, ‘parish Communion’ was given a new directness and centrality, its meaning subtly transformed by such things as gesture, voice tone and body language, so that the congregation felt they were drawn into full participation. ‘Family services’ were also introduced, to appeal to all ages. A new charismatic movement spread to the fringes of the Church of England in the early 1960s.
Music played an important part in these developments. A landmark was Geoffrey Beaumont’s 20th-Century Folk Mass (London, 1956), whose obvious relationship to popular music brought indignation from traditionalists but nevertheless began an unstoppable trend. Congregations were encouraged to participate, not only by singing but by swaying and clapping (whence the nickname ‘Happy-Clappy’). The Evangelical wing of the Church has especially welcomed the popularization of music. At the same time, the ecumenical stance of liberal churchmen has encouraged hymns and other music from Nonconformist, Roman Catholic and non-Christian sources, and of music from non-European cultures. The Anglo-Catholics have defended tradition, as have the great majority of professional church musicians.
In 1965, the Prayer Book (Alternative and Other Services) Measure received the royal assent, which meant that, for the first time, the Church’s own Assembly was free to embark on liturgical reform without recourse to Parliament. Several ‘series’, representing different degrees of change, were tried out and debated at many levels. The result was the Alternative Service Book (1980), which offers a wide choice of language and liturgy to each individual church – including the option to continue the use of the 1662 Prayer Book, still vigorously defended by some. In letting each parish decide on its own style of worship, the Church has come closer to the Congregational tradition (see Congregational church, music of the). A large amount of new music has been composed and published to cater for the various services. Broadcasting has further weakened the boundaries between denominations.
Meanwhile, the daily services of cathedrals and choral foundations have largely stood outside the more drastic liturgical changes, although the buildings are often made available for a variety of religious observances. The 1662 liturgy is mostly retained, and its Morning and Evening Prayer (now again more often called Matins and Evensong) remain in daily use, if only because the vast majority of the greatest music was written for them. But cathedrals are in difficulties. The preservation of buildings and the payment of staff have become an impossibly heavy burden, making it more difficult to justify further expenditure on a style of worship and a musical idiom that many Anglicans do not find ‘relevant’ to their concerns. The newer cathedrals, upgraded from parish churches, have few endowments, and many of them have never been able to establish daily choral services.
The Church Music Society, founded in 1906, and the Royal School of Church Music (RSCM), founded in 1927, both have as their principal object the maintenance and enhancement of the choral tradition, although each has also paid some attention to congregational music. The Friends of Cathedral Music was founded in 1956. The introduction of female singers in a few cathedral choirs has prompted a strong reaction, and a Campaign for the Defence of the Traditional Cathedral Choir was formed in 1996, supported by many who have little or no connection with the Church of England. Meanwhile, broadcasting has brought the cathedral choirs and their music to a new audience of millions, most notably in the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve – a service invented for Truro Cathedral in 1880 but now chiefly associated with the chapel of King’s College, Cambridge.
Once again, therefore, as in Elizabethan times, cathedral and parochial music have diverged along different paths. It appears that the great tradition of choral service will survive, in some cathedrals and colleges at least. If it does, it will be less for religious reasons than because it embodies a splendid musical past rich in association, excites national and local pride and attracts tourists and television viewers.
9. Wales, Ireland, Isle of Man, Scotland.
The Anglican Church was also established in Wales (until 1920) and Ireland (until 1870). In both countries, though representing a minority of the population (essentially, the anglicized gentry), it inherited the medieval cathedrals, where it conducted exclusively English-language services. But these cathedrals tended to be on a smaller scale than English ones as regards both buildings and endowments, and there was a continual struggle to keep up the musical standards.
Of the four Welsh cathedrals, only St David’s was able to maintain a reasonably continuous tradition of choral services. After the Bible and Prayer Book had been published in Welsh (1588), Archdeacon Edmwnd Prys published a book of metrical psalms (Llyfr y psalmau, London, 1621), with 12 tunes that included two new ones destined for long histories, ‘St Mary’ and ‘Song 67’ (as it was called when Gibbons supplied it with a bass two years later). Another set of metrical psalm tunes was the work of Ifan Williams (1755). But the great Welsh hymns of later date emerged from the revivals of the 18th century, which led the majority of the Welsh people into Calvinistic Methodism (see Methodist church music), and the Church’s decline accelerated from that time onwards. There have been some signs of reawakening in what is now ‘the Church in Wales’.
The Church of Ireland was closely linked with that of England, although formal union between them existed only from 1801 to 1870. Its 34 cathedrals do not reflect any modern reality. Grindle (1989) traces some kind of choral tradition in 13 of them, but the only ones that were able to compete seriously with English foundations were Christ Church and St Patrick’s, both at Dublin. Indeed, when these two were willing and able to pool their resources by offering dual positions to lay clerks and organists, they were in a position to induce well-established English cathedral musicians to settle in Dublin. A high standard of performance resulted, but little original music of more than local importance. A notable Dublin-born organist at both cathedrals was Robert Prescott Stewart (1825–94). Choral services were also held, in some periods, at Trinity College, Dublin, and after 1814 in the chapel royal at Dublin Castle.
Perhaps to distance itself from the surrounding Catholic majority, the Church of Ireland has tended towards low-church ideals in worship and music. Urban parish churches had metrical psalms sung by charity children with organ well into the Victorian period, with the congregation virtually silent, as G.W. Torrance complained (1861): he was a Dublin parish organist and the editor of the first official hymnal of the Church of Ireland (1864). Since disestablishment (1871) the Church has succeeded in maintaining its small but unique place in Irish musical life.
In the Isle of Man, which has an independent jurisdiction and diocese (Sodor and Man), the Reformation took nearly two centuries to establish itself. Metrical psalm singing in English was practised in a few town churches in the early 1700s; in the Manx-speaking rural areas, singing dates only from 1768, when on Bishop Hildesley’s initiative a Manx version of Tate and Brady’s psalms was added to the translated Prayer Book.
The Scottish story is quite different. The Reformation, which in Scotland dates from 1560, was more radical than in England, and the destruction of abbeys and cathedrals more complete. The majority of Scots (excluding the predominantly Catholic Highlands) desired a Presbyterian form of church government, which was established in 1592, but it was constantly challenged by an Episcopalian party, which had the support of the Stuart kings. Charles I tried unsuccessfully to impose a Scottish form of the Prayer Book in 1637, and Charles II continued to appoint bishops and archbishops, who attempted to impose Episcopalian forms. It was not until 1691 that a final Presbyterian settlement was adopted, and it was retained when Scotland was united with England in 1707.
An Act of Toleration (1712) allowed Scottish Episcopalians to worship in peace if they adopted the English liturgy (with its prayers for Queen Anne or, later, King George), and this produced a schism. Some clergy accepted the offer and openly officiated in what were termed ‘qualified chapels’. Others held out, especially in Aberdeenshire, and quietly preserved a Scottish liturgy, more especially a Communion Office which differed in some respects from that of the Church of England. They were under constant suspicion of Jacobite sympathies and became a persecuted sect, especially after 1746. The penal laws were repealed in 1792, but disputes over the differing liturgical forms continued for more than a century. A Scottish Book of Common Prayer was finally adopted in 1929.
Despite these troubles, chanting, service music and anthems were performed in several Episcopal chapels during the 18th century (Wilson, 1996). In the Victorian period the Scottish Episcopal Church experienced a revival, with a strong Anglo-Catholic component. Colleges were founded at Cumrae and Glenalmond. The first new cathedral was built (St Ninian’s, Perth, consecrated 1850), where, under the guidance of Frederick Helmore, daily choral services on Anglo-Catholic lines were established. Several others followed, and parochial music, too, developed much as in English churches.
10. North America and Australasia.
The Anglican Church was established in Virginia (1624), Maryland (1702), South Carolina (1706), North Carolina (1715) and Georgia (1733). The efforts of the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel in Foreign Parts (SPG), founded in 1701, made headway in the northern colonies as well. In the later 18th century principal cities such as Charleston, Philadelphia, New York, Boston and Halifax had prosperous churches with music along the lines of English town churches (organ and charity children); often they were the only churches where ‘professional’ music was cultivated, under the direction of immigrant organists from England or Germany (e.g. William Tuckey). Rural congregations, if they sang, presumably sang metrical psalms in the ‘Old Way’.
The Church of England declined to appoint an American bishop, and all Anglican churches abroad were under the remote jurisdiction of the Bishop of London. The Revolution placed the Church in crisis; many loyalists, including most of the clergy, left for England or Canada, and Anglican worship came to a temporary halt in most places. The first American bishop, Samuel Seabury, was forced to seek consecration by bishops of the Episcopal Church of Scotland in order to preserve the apostolic succession; Bishop William White, also from Scotland, was influential in guiding the music of the American Church. A modified Prayer Book was adopted at the first General Convention in 1785. The Protestant Episcopal Church of the USA was officially constituted in 1789 (the word ‘Protestant’ was dropped only in 1967).
Musically, the most significant departure from Anglican tradition was the adoption of a selection of metrical psalms and hymns as an official rather than an optional part of the liturgy. This policy has continued, producing a series of authorized hymnals every 20–30 years. A Joint Commission on Church Music was appointed in 1919 and resulted in several musical publications. The Hymnal of 1940 was the first to have an official music edition. A much expanded section of chants and service music appeared in the 1982 edition. At every stage in its development, the music of the Episcopal Church has been deeply entwined with that of the Church of England: Hymns Ancient and Modern has been a particularly strong influence. A number of musicians trained in the Church of England emigrated to the United States to direct the music at leading churches there (see Temperley 2003).
Chants are found in American sources from as early as 1783 (see Wilson, 1996, chap.8), and were certainly used for the canticles and doxologies in some town churches. Anthems date at least from the 1760s, when Francis Hopkinson composed some for the use of Christ Church and St Peter, Philadelphia. But anything approaching a full cathedral service sung by an endowed choir of boys and men was unknown before the effects of the Oxford Movement began to be felt in the 1840s. In most town churches in the early 1800s the music was sung by a quartet of professional singers in the organ gallery.
The choral revival was led by Trinity Church, New York, under the English immigrant Edward Hodges (see Ogasapian, 1994) and his successor Henry Stephen Cutler. By 1900 there were several ‘boy choirs’ (all-male choirs) in each of the larger cities across the country (see Ellinwood, 1953), and they were a distinctive characteristic of Episcopal churches. At the end of the 20th century perhaps 15 endowed churches and cathedrals around the country were able to maintain daily choral services, the most famous being Washington Cathedral and the cathedral of St John the Divine, New York. Among the more distinguished American composers of anthems and other cathedral music are Horatio Parker and Leo Sowerby.
Liturgical renewal in the 1960s followed a similar course to that in England. A revised Prayer Book, in 1979, established the centrality of Communion and recognized the ‘ministry of lay persons’, encouraging a breakdown of barriers between rehearsed choirs and congregations. The emphasis in the 1982 Hymnal was firmly on congregational singing. It made moderate advances toward multiculturalism and popular music. Among its 700 hymns were eight tunes based on negro spirituals, two on Ghanaian work songs, two on Chinese hymns, two on Amerindian songs, one Hispanic American hymn, and one tune by a Mexican composer (Boyer, 1990, pp.37–8). The Association of Anglican Musicians, founded in 1967, has been a significant force in raising musical standards in the Church and encouraging composers to provide music for it.
In Canada, the Church of England was established by law in Nova Scotia (1758), New Brunswick (1786) and Upper Canada (1791). For many decades only a few town churches possessed the means for anything beyond unaccompanied congregational psalmody. It was not until after 1900 that a substantial choral tradition grew up. Two English-born Canadian composers, Healey Willan and Alfred Whitehead, were the first to draw international attention to the existence of a Canadian school of Anglican church music.
A similar pattern of events, at a somewhat later date, occurred in Australia (see Forsyth, 1997), and also in New Zealand, where Christchurch Cathedral was an early centre for Anglican choral music (choir school founded 1879). In all these white-dominated countries there were Anglican missions to the indigenous populations, in which hymn singing played its due part.
11. Missions and the Anglican Communion.
The high-church Society for the Propagation of the Gospel, by far the oldest Anglican mission organization, was primarily concerned with ministering to white settlers in colonies and other outposts, although it did from time to time attempt to convert Amerindians and West Indian slaves. The Church Missionary Society (CMS), on the other hand, was founded in 1799 under Evangelical auspices for the express purpose of bringing Anglican Christianity to the subject peoples of the growing British Empire, often in competition with nonconformist societies. Its first successful mission was in Sierra Leone, where the population of freed and returned slaves was less firmly tied to tribal religions than that of other African countries. Similarly, the American Episcopal Church missions concentrated first on Liberia. For the next 150 years the greatest missionary efforts took place in Africa.
For most of the 19th century Anglican missionaries, with a few exceptions, saw it as their duty to rescue Africans from the evils of their own religions and persuade them to adopt Anglican Christianity, just as it came. They may have been among the most ethnocentric of the denominations active in Africa. They expended vast efforts in translating hymns, as well as the Bible and Prayer Book, into African languages. The music of hymns clearly attracted some Africans. But a literal translation of an English hymn, designed to be sung to its usual tune, often violated the natural stresses and tones of the new language and made virtual nonsense of the text. Moreover the quite complex nature of the High Victorian hymn tune was more difficult to master than the simple gospel hymn of the Moody-Sankey type used by other missionaries, such as the Methodists. Anglican missionaries disapproved of drumming or dancing in worship, although these had been an inseparable part of both music and religion for many Africans.
Despite all these barriers, progress was made; no doubt many Africans saw material as well as spiritual advantage in yielding to the pressure to convert and to learn Anglican music. The CMS hoped that Africans would eventually take over the missions, and the first African bishop was consecrated as early as 1864. But the period of intensified imperialism in Africa (1880–1920), although it greatly increased the success of missions, did so at the expense of indigenous cultures. Even African church leaders, having learnt English hymn tunes in their youth, often wished to exclude native music and customs from Christian worship. In reaction, a number of independent African churches were formed (outside any existing denomination), using music and dance in their own traditional styles to accompany worship.
The popularity of these sects may have awoken the missionaries to their predicament. After World War I, some serious efforts to synthesize African music with Western Christianity were begun. T.K.E. Phillips, a Nigerian, was trained both in mission school and at Trinity College of Music, London, and became organist and choirmaster of Lagos Cathedral; but he retained his Yoruba roots. His Litani (1926) alternates an unaccompanied soloist with four-part choir and organ, but the tunes are African and the speech tones and rhythms of the Yoruba language are retained. His student, Fela Sowande, continued what he had begun. A.M. Jones, a white missionary at St Mark’s College in Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), reversed the earlier procedure by setting new Christian words to secular African songs, eventually assembling them in a Lala Hymnbook (1931). This proved to be a useful model.
Gradually the Anglican Church was changing from an ‘establishment’ into a mission church (see Sachs, 1993) and was looking more favourably on African cultural expression. By 1960 the indigenization of African church music had come a long way. The independence of Britain’s African colonies, beginning with Ghana in 1957, by no means slowed the pace of conversion to Christianity – at the end of the 20th century there were at least 30 million African Anglicans – but it naturally predisposed Anglican leaders, both colonial and indigenous, towards the africanization of church music. Ecclesiastical provinces often crossed both national and tribal boundaries. Efforts were made to forge a syncretic, pan-African style out of the differing music of various regions, tribes and languages. Drums and other instruments were now admitted, and a call-and-response type of hymn became a normal part of worship, but the music belonged to no single tribal tradition and still retained many Western features as well. Later the growth of nationalism in many African states led, paradoxically, to a new wave of Western musical influence, but in the form of commercial popular music.
In a few cathedrals, however, as in England, popular trends have been resisted, and fully choral Anglican services are sung by all-male choirs, with only the occasional African hymn. Examples are the cathedrals of Lagos and Cape Town. The choir directors and organists are trained at one of the London colleges or at the RSCM, or at one of the many African music schools modelled on them.
Anglican Christianity is also firmly established in many Asian countries, though on a smaller scale – perhaps four million members in all. In India it is a natural product of centuries of British rule. But both conversion and indigenization were slower and more difficult than in Africa. The existing religions were ancient and well developed, and both North and South India possessed strong and mature traditions of high art music which had little in common with Western music. A modern Anglican service in Hindi may well contain various musical elements, each remaining largely intact: North and South Indian melodies, Indian and Western instruments, Hindu and Moslem chant, and English hymns with their original tunes in four-part harmony. Some Christian musicians have attempted a fusion of rāgas with Gregorian chant. Some aboriginal groups in the east-central plateau, such as the Munda people, have reverted to the use of their own melodies, with drumming and dancing, but (as in Africa) with some perceptible traces of Western influence that distinguish it from the music of non-Christian Munda (Babiracki, 1985, p.97). In Sri Lanka, Sinhala folk music and dance, prose chants, and drums were introduced into the Anglican Church of Ceylon in the mid-1950s.
In China, Japan and Korea, acceptance of Western art music has been far more complete, so that in general Anglican church music has been adopted with little change (other than translation of the texts) in whatever degree the resources of a particular community may allow.
The earliest attempt to bring together the bishops of Anglican and Episcopal churches around the world was held in 1867, at Lambeth Palace (the London residence of the Archbishop of Canterbury). It was to be the first in a series of approximately decennial conferences that have continued until the present time. Although music as such is rarely a principal subject of discussion, the Lambeth Conference has shaped and overseen the gradual evolution of the Anglican Communion in the modern world, and provided a focus for increasing controversy on such subjects as the ordination of women, same-sex marriage, and proposals for reunion with other denominations. The services at the conference itself have generally been quite traditional and, for many of the assembled bishops, have acted as a reminder of the liturgical and musical model which had been a starting-point for their own churches’ evolving practices.
The Anglican Communion embraces some 20 independent church organizations around the world, all tracing their ultimate roots to the Church of England. One modern commentator considers that ‘Anglicanism [in the late 20th century] exhibited dynamism in Africa and Asia which seemed lacking in its British and American counterparts’ (Sachs, 1993, p.336).
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