This, the Presidential Address of 2021, discusses the way poetry can enhance people’s experience of worship and argues that it needs space and time to have its effect, as opposed simply appearing as a quotation during a sermon. Although hymns and poems are not the same, the latter can become a hymn, but only if it has certain qualities. Some examples are examined. Hymns can also become poems, read in the right context. Poetry may always open up our prayers, either on their own or as woven into a longer prayer – indeed it helps us understand the nature of prayer.
The former minister of St Giles’ Cathedral in Edinburgh looks back over alterations made in his 40 years as minister, which included the relocation of the Holy Table to the crossing in the midst of the people, the introduction of processions within acts of worship, and the placing of the baptismal font at the West Door, to which the congregation moves for a baptism. He reflects on the reasons for the changes, from his experience of leading worship in the building to childhood experiences and memories still alive in his mind.
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The President of the Church Service Society focuses attention on an aspect of liturgy which is often ignored, the reading of the Word. There is more to this than being heard with understanding. It is the proclamation of God and an essential feature of our worship. There is wisdom in thinking carefully about those who join the reading rota. This also is a vocation.
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An account by a Council member of a sermon she preached which was shared around an extended rural parish through Zoom. Context and mode of communication together engaged a group of people to continue meeting during lockdown to expand their conversation through further reading, again meeting by Zoom. The conversation also explored how a more contemplative dimension might be enabled in the normal Sunday service.
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The Record editor shares the story of how he and the congregation responded to the needs of a Roman Catholic family who came to their rural church when there was no Catholic church at hand, and how this led to a liturgical innovation, something they felt was missing from the Church of Scotland tradition, a ‘First Communion’ rite. This not only enhanced the new step for baptised children as they were welcomed as communicants but affirmed the place of young people in the church. The resulting order of worship is included.
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The Chaplain to the University of St Andrews outlines the variety of the provision of worship that has evolved across the university in response to the ecumenical nature of those who gather and of the broad chaplaincy team. This has involved, also, interfaith and pagan contributions. There are also ceremonies that are created to enable people of many faiths or of none to give thanks for the life of a student or member of staff who has died.
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An Episcopal priest and member of Council, who was brought up within the Church of Scotland, reflects on the recently signed ‘Saint Andrew Declaration’ between the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Scotland.
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Review of Assist our Song: Music Ministries in the Local Church (Douglas Galbraith) by Scott McKenna and Matthew Hynes
Review of Telling a Better Story: Mission in Contemporary Scotland (Liam Jerrold Fraser) By Douglas Galbraith
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The Editor, the Revd James C Stewart, discusses the Church of Scotland’s recent search for a ‘worship development officer’.
Presidential Address to the Church Service Society, May 2014 by Dr Iain B Galbraith
The title came from a poem by the 11th century musical theoretician, Guido d’Arrezzo, who foreshadowed by 8 centuries the pioneering work of the 19th century developers of tonic-solfa notation. In the address, the author charts his journey as a church musician, recalling his childhood in Bonhill Old Church where his forebears had been precentors, his education in the Vale of Leven and the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, but where his ‘warranty’ also included a developing interest in theology. An organist from the age of 14, continued in Renton, Knightsbridge, Rhu, and Kelvinside Hillhead in Glasgow. A major influence was the person and the music of J S Bach, whose warranty also combined music and theology. He concludes with a reflection on contemporary music in the church, which he sees as derived from ‘culture for the mass rather than for the people’ (Bernard Levin) and lacks two indissoluble components: offering and mystery. (To this address, the Editor has appended a hymn tune he discovered in an old collection of tunes by W R Broomfield named ‘Shandon’ which is in the parish of Rhu.)