March 10, 2013

Music in a Liturgical Parish Church


Music plays an important role in the life of many parish churches, however in some places there has been a shift in the style of worship away from formally structured services to those with a more informal style.  There is often the suspicion that the reduction in the number of good quality church choirs is correlated to this change in worship style in many parishes.  However, there are still a number of churches that maintain a high standard of music along with well thought-through liturgies.

This study looks at the role music plays in the worship and outreach of such a parish church.  It briefly outlines current authorised liturgies of the Church of England and draws on observations and examples of the way music is used in St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury, a church with what might be seen as a ‘traditional’ musical set up of robed choir (mixed ages and gender) and organ accompaniment.

From this study, others can take ideas and inspiration that they may wish to adapt and use in their own churches.  It will be evident that a church that puts an emphasis on a high quality of liturgy and music can have an actively reach out to both the local and wider community, and that a well organised choral programme can be an effective way of drawing people into the church community.

Useful links from presentation

Current authorised liturgies in the Church of England

St Stephen’s Church Choir website

Specification of the organ in St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury

Full music list (beginning Advent 2012) for St Stephen’s Church, Canterbury

Stephen’s YouTube channel (contains mostly St Stephen’s Choir!)

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