The influence of the Oxford movement on church music
Jenkins, Isabel Aldana
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During the eighteenth century conditions within the Church of England were at a very low status. Many of the clergy were indifferent, ritual observance was neglected, and rubrical directions were ignored. By the nineteenth century, some thoughtful, deeply religious people began reforms for improvement of these circumstances. Alarmed by governmental interference with the rights of the Church, and by propaganda issued urging the Church of England to change its ancient principles, the Reverend John Keble, delivered the Assize-Sermon, taking as his subject "National Apostacy", on July 14, 1833. This sermon is considered the beginning of the Oxford Movement. A few days later a group of men of the Oxford University met and discussed methods of strengthening the Church's position. As a result of this meeting, many Tracts were written concerning the true nature of the Christian Church, its Liturgy, its relation to the ancient Church, translations of early records of the Church, correct observance of doctrines and services, and adherence to its apostolic succession. The early aims of the Movement were to revive doctrines; they wanted no new doctrine. They urged more severity, reality and consistency, and deeper habits of self-discipline along lines of the English Church Orthodoxy. They wanted the Sacraments and Services of the Church used meaningfully and above all really observed. They discouraged showiness and pomp. They wanted religion to be purified, deepened, and made more real. Above all the main aim was for a whole-hearted, supreme reverence for moral goodness. John Henry Newman was the acknowledged leader of the Movement. One of his most important contributions was the series of sermons he preached at St. Mary's from 1828 on. Edward B. Pusey gave his support and much recognition to the Movement at the end of 1834. He was really the second leader, although in the eyes of the world he was the official leader. Under his direction Tracts 70-90 were scholarly editions. From the years of 1835-40, the Movement grew quickly and received more supporters. As a result of the Movement there was an increased use of the Gospels and study of them. The first seven years were of progress despite opposition and ridicule. In 1840 changes began within the Group. Differences in the Party grew. A new generation was rising up against their teachers of caution and patience. The ideas and aims of the Movement were progressing too rapidly. Had there been a restraining hand or decent recognition and understanding from the authorities of Oxford and the whole Church, the Movement could probably have survived this perilous time, the Church been greatly strengthened and the hundreds who left for the Roman Communion would have probably have stayed within the Anglican Communion. Newman's sermons caused much comment and led to much thought among his followers. He examined the Roman Church to find what was good and bad in its Liturgy and system. He tried to find out whether the English Church was the true Church. He wanted to raise the Church to his standards. Up to the fall of 1839, he never wavered in his loyalty and devotion to the English Church. His debate between the two churches was gradual in coming. He was surprised and dismayed over his own questioning. He was trying to find a "Via Media" between the two churches. He was severely censored because of Tract 90, in which he gave his interpretation of "The Thirty-nine Articles". In the tract he said that they left a great deal of formal Roman language untouched. He stated that they were not really anti-Catholic, that "Their negations were not directed against the authorized creed of the Roman Catholics, but only against popular errors and exaggerations." After prolonged censorious persecution, he finally made his decision and joined the Roman Church. The aims and beliefs of the Tractarian Party were misunderstood. In fact the authorities did not try to understand them. The Party met with several defeats and received unwarranted criticism and censorship. From 1845 on many people, clergy and laymen, left the Anglican Church for the Roman. With this division of members, the Party lost its strength. The influence of the Movement was notable. Despite the bitter controversies, alienation of friends, and loss of many Anglicans who turned to the Roman Church, the Church of England was strengthened. The clergy became more aware of their true function. The "Christian Year" became more meaningful. Catholicism was more authentically defined and there was a more reverential and intelligent interpretation of the principles of the Church. The effects of the Oxford Movement were more quickly felt on Religion and Liturgy than on Music. The leaders of the Movement were primarily interested in correct interpretation of and adherence to the principles of the Anglican Church with proper observance of the traditional rites of the Church. This necessarily led to a study and analysis of Church Music by the musicians of the day, revival of ancient music, and an attempt to make the music truly devotional and serve as an enrichment of the Liturgy. By the end of the nineteenth century, this influence was clearly evident. Even today, the climax of the effects of these reforms throughout the Western Church has not yet been reached. By 1830, the music performed in churches reflected the general attitude of the Church at that time. Most of the parish churches had a choir in the west gallery which was accompanied by a barrel organ or the village band. They limited their singing to metrical psalms and a few hymns. In the cathedrals there was also much mediocre music performed in a very perfunctory manner. The art of chanting was almost lost. Choir rehearsals were seldom held and the repertoire of the choir was most limited. The Oxford Movement encouraged parish churches to aim for choral services similar to the cathedral type. These small churches did not have the singers nor the ability to sing difficult music. A great deal of simple music--anthems and services, was composed to meet their needs. Much of this music has proven to be worth less today because it was apt to be sentimental and dramatic rather than devotional, but it did serve its purpose at the time. Musicians now realize that simple but beautiful music can be composed for choirs of limited means. Anglican chant was used more and more to fulfill the desire of those churches who wanted to have a fully Choral Service. It because the custom for all choirs to be vested. Two composers of outstanding importance were S.S. Wesley and C.V. Stanford. Sung Eucharist was revived. At first only the Kyrie Eleison, Credo, and Sanctus were used. Later the Gloria in Excelsis was sung and finally the Benedictus qui venit and Agnus Dei were added. Standards for cathedral music were considerably improved by the work of the Reverend Sir Frederick Gore Ouseley, who founded in 1854 his College of St. Michael, Tenbury, to set a permanent standard in the music of cathedral services and to promote the best traditions in rendering the "Opus Dei", and by Sir John Stainer, perhaps the most influential musician of his day. The services sung at St. Paul's, London, under Stainer's direction were accepted as a model for all English cathedrals. Stainer was very interested in the use of Plainsong and introduced this type of music at St. Paul's Cathedral. The revival of Plainsong in England was a definite result of the Oxford Movement. The pioneers were Thomas Helmore and Richard Redhead. In 1844, Redhead and Dr. Henry J. Gauntlett edited the first Gregori an Psalter. The following year Helmore began publication of really serviceable music books. Much credit is due the work of these men in restoring Plainsong. They interpreted it more as Anglican Chant; later research pointed the way to a clearer interpretation. The Reverend George H. PaLmer analysed ancient music of the Sarum Rite and wrote "The Sarum Psalter". His study and publications of Plainsong have provided means for a more faithful rendition of this music. Another important stimulus to Plainsong was the founding of "The Plainsong and Medieval Music Society" in 1888. This Society is still very active and its members are engaged in fulfilling the objectives set up at the first meeting. They have published phototype facsimiles of the ancient Sarum musical service books, textbooks and many practical editions. Two outstanding members of recent years are Francis Burgess, Esquire, and the Reverend Dom Anselm Hughes. Other ancient music was restored to use. Religious Orders were reinstated, after having been abolished for over 300 years. There was much interest in hymns and carols. With the publication of "Hymns Ancient and Modern", a new type of hymn tune appeared which was more of a part song with the music composed for definite words and not interchangeable with other hymns. Many of these hymns are now being discarded as an analysis of the 1940 Episcopal Hymnal proves, although some of them have definitely proven their worth. The Oxford Movement has strongly influenced the Liturgy and its interpretation and it has inspired musicians to perform fitting music to enrich the Liturgy. There has been long and thorough researeh of ancient music, practical editions have been published which enable us to use this music, and most important of all the influence has extended over a period of 100 years so that many musicians today are endeavoring to fulfill early objectives set up for reform of church music. Throughout the last half of the nineteenth century an extensive literature of services, anthem, and hymn were composed, making it possible today to have ful choral services. If all Church musicians really endeavor to live up to definite standards and genuinely study and select music in an effort to have it enrich the Liturgy, much of the inferior music which is being published today will lose its favor and we shall finally attain the goal first set up by the Oxford Movement to have a service that is sincere, devotional, and reverent in every way.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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