The church is full of snobs.  I don’t know why or even how we encourage it, but we clearly do.  The worst of the snobbishness presents itself in hymn choices.  In the place I work as a chaplain, I am always being asked for ‘All things bright and beautiful’, Morning has broken’, ‘Shine Jesus Shine’, ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’.  I can’t say I enjoy any of these very much, certainly not week after week.  But music has such an important place in worship that I believe it is vital that we include music that people know, and warm to, whether thay come to church regularly or not.

This morning in church I was asked what we should sing – there had been a bit of a breakdown in communication and no-one chose the hymns until 5 minutes before the service.  Luckily, we had a musically literate vicar who covered on the organ!  When I was asked what we might sing (as Junior Church leader today) I suggested ‘All things Bright and Beautiful’, only to be asked if I was serious. One of the clergy told me how much they hated it.

The fact that the children know it, it links with their school worship, it is often known by strangers in our midst, and it makes ecological sense was irrelevant to musical snobbery. Very frustrating! The same snobbery prevails in prison, diocesan services, everywhere I seem to go. No wonder our church is so often empty of strangers in our midst.

Must stop being so cynical…  It’s summer holidays – perhaps that’s why no children other than mine were in church.  And we did sing ‘All things’; Hugh said, ‘We sing this at school’…

School Stoning

Hugh (age 6) took part in his first public stoning today.  At his leavers assembly, the children took painted stones to the front of church.  For a moment, I wondered if the children were preparing to take part in a stoning of the teachers.  Maybe the vicar would call for a ‘Paul’ to stand up and hold their sweaters, and the experience a Damascus moment!

Unfortunately, the reality was far more mundane.  After laying the stones in a cairn, the teachers laboured the point that the life of the school was founded on Christ.  Like so many similar experiences of school worship, it was difficult to tell whether this was a performance or worship.  If worship, why did we clap, and why read out names of those moving to new schools – and an interminable list of the schools they are going to?  If a performance, why did we use the church?

Enough of being grumpy – this is the end of a decade at St Oswald’s School, and that is something to celebrate as well as something to be sad about!  I’ve made it through babies, and toddlers, and now primary school.  Roll on the summer holidays…