I found this article, written by David Sinden of St. Paul’s Episcopal downtown (Richmond), and it’s a fantastic defense of a musician’s work in the church. It speaks to our roles as musicians, defends the liturgy and music that we use, and he also offers a perspective on the clergy-musician relationship, oft unnecessarily in battle with each other.
“5. Longtime members who resent musical diversity need to get over it. If they want their congregation to have a vibrant future, they need to loosen their grip on music and allow all voices to sing.”
This is a persistent theme of Ehrich’s — that the old guard need to let said guard down. The problem, of course, is that it jettisons the gifts that our older parishioners have. Rather than making the elderly parishioners pine for the days when their favorite hymns were sung, what if we actually asked them what their favorite hymns are, and record their stories, shared them widely, and together rediscovered a gift from the heritage of our faith.
“6. Clergy must become cheerleaders for diversity in music. Not as a champion against the musical establishment, but as an ally who celebrates musicians’ willingness to broaden their range.”
I suspect that if clergy had to broaden their ranges as much as Ehrich has in mind for the musicians we would have Pentecostals leading solemn processions and high church Anglicans handling snakes. Our denominational identity has evolved for particular reasons and in particular ways. Just because we can be said to be living in a post-denominational era does not mean that each parish must be a microcosm of that wider reality.