ECENTLY, I came across a video on Facebook. The person who shared the video made his comment saying that “Anglican can dress anything up”. To be honest, I have a great appreciation for Anglican church music and I really enjoy listening to their boys’ choir. The video is a recording of the Choir of Hexham Abbey and the congregation singing Dan Schutte’s Here I am Lord, a song that I heard a lot growing up. Don’t get me wrong, I am not trying to be mean the our Anglican brothers and sisters nor to discredit their music. But can the Anglicans really dress anything up? And is it possible that one can change the nature of a song by “dressing them” up?
Let me make it clear: I have nothing against composer himself, so please don’t leave a bunch of negative comments about the composer!
First, I have to admit that the Anglicans did a great job “dressing up” the song. The boys’ choir sounded pretty good and blended, and the descant was just beautiful! The instrumentation is also very noble, none of that guitar and piano stuff. I am very impressed with that congregational singing. I don’t know if they sing like that every Sunday, but I don’t usually hear strong singing like that in Catholic churches. It almost sounds like a different piece from this when it is decorated. But still, the decorations don’t change the nature of this piece.
The text is the soul of a piece of choral music, or a song. The text is the first thing that determine whether a hymn or song is appropriate for the Liturgy. The text is the nature of a song. In the case of Liturgical Music, the texts should govern the musical settings. A decorated Here I am Lord will still have the problem of “Voice of God” as Jeff Ostrowski explained. The refrain of the song is still not poetic and going to be focusing on “me”, instead of God.
Yes, Anglicans might be able to dress anything up, but they can’t change the nature of the song. It can sound very dignified, but still not appropriate for the Mass.