Friday, December 20, 2013

A Liturgy, a Legacy, and an Anglican Band

Thursday, December 19, 2013
Dale M. Coulter

During my doctoral program at Oxford, my wife and I had the good fortune of attending a wonderful Anglican church. Located just across from Christ Church, St. Aldate’s has a history going back to the twelfth century and St. Frideswide, which spoke to me given that I was writing on the canons regular to which the Oxford saint belonged. What drew us to St. Aldate’s was not the historical connection (wonderful though it was), but the fact that it was a charismatic Anglican church.

One Sunday I invited a good friend to join us saying that I simply loved the liturgy. My friend happened to be pursuing ordination in the Church of England. After the service he informed me that he hardly recognized the liturgy and would prefer to go elsewhere. St. Aldate’s was, in British jargon, a “happy clappy” church in the Anglican tradition. The liturgy for Eucharist was sung by the congregation as they were led by a band. For some Anglicans, this was anathema, not only because it potentially raised the specter of lay presidency at the Eucharist, but also because the singing altered the words ever so slightly. The charismatic influx into St. Aldate’s had altered the performance of the liturgy.

As I later learned, St. Aldate’s was an example of a broader phenomenon within Anglican churches impacted by the charismatic movement. This impact has led to some forms of liturgical renewal, or, at least, change. Whether such changes count as a kind of renewal depends on your perspective. Nevertheless, St. Aldate’s was just one of many Anglican churches whose liturgical life was altered in the wake of the charismatic renewal, especially as it came through John Wimber and the Vineyard churches.  the rest at First Things


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