Alan Tavener tells the story of the Jordanhill Liturgical Choir, which includes members of the All Saints congregation and often performs here.
Some four years ago I came up with another of my wild ideas… At Jordanhill Parish Church in Glasgow I was already leading Jordanhill Community Choir which had grown out of the ashes of our Church Choir, and also attracted other members of our congregation together with people from the wider community. My new idea was to create another choir that would also ‘reach out’ – spurred on by experiences such as those local ecumenical services where the singing left something to be desired! Also, after more than one joint Holy Week service with our Scottish Episcopal neighbours, I had been presented with the suggestion that we should sing Choral Evensong together – just like that… Needless to say, I body-swerved that one: I knew all too well how challenging non-Episcopalians (and even some Episcopalians) find the singing of versicles and responses and the chanting of prose psalms.
So I woke up one day with this idea of forming an ecumenical ‘liturgical’ choir, which would be open not only to our Scottish Episcopal but also our Roman Catholic neighbours. Liturgy is characteristic of these two Christian traditions, but often much less apparently so in the Church of Scotland where the use of Book of Common Order is optional, and varies widely from parish to parish between close and no adherence. Liturgy is neatly summed up (my italics) in the introduction of the Wikipedia page as “a pattern for worship (whether recommended or prescribed) by a Christian congregation or denomination on a regular basis”.
Whilst fully expecting to find enthusiastic recruits from our local Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic churches, imagine my surprise that so many Church of Scotland Members chose to join Jordanhill Liturgical Choir at its inception! True, the host church was and continues to be Jordanhill Parish Church, but perhaps there had been a yearning by some for a greater richness of musical expression in worship than many a Church of Scotland Service offers? It certainly spoke volumes for the open-minded and adventurous spirit of those participants.
Peripatetic by nature, Jordanhill Liturgical Choir provides a varying balance between choral resource and congregational support in the spirit of a church choir. We sing at services in Jordanhill Parish Church, All Saints Scottish Episcopal Church in Jordanhill, and the Roman Catholic Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, also in Jordanhill. (In fact, the Choir members come from an even wider spread of Church of Scotland, Scottish Episcopal and Roman Catholic congregations in Glasgow and beyond – potential for a possible ‘day out’ some time?…)
• Read Alan’s complete article at the Church of Scotland’s Resourcing Mission site.