Catholic music May we inquire why, if there are so many Dutch people involved in church choirs thc Catholic Herald had to use (May 19) a picture not of young Dutch people, but of the choir of Newcastle Students' Chaplaincy? Displayed below it was the caption: "There are 4,000 church ehoirs in Holland how many in Britain?' . Here, surely, was one for a start.
a.■, we suggesi, moreover, that tfic uc oi this photograph underaimed many of the points made in the article, regarding the supposedly less active role of the British laity in church music. r he Newcastle choir is directed by music students who also organise music in parishes outside the Chaplaincy.
Could this be an answer to the ar• tick's question: "Are the contributions of music students being accepted or are they simply not ‘ontributing?"
Wc should add that we strongly suspect that the figure of 4,000 Dutch choirs could well be matched 111 this cuuntry.. In all five wishes in
h ich we have lived there has been one choir, if not two.
Michael and Anna Hogan Chester-le-St reel, Co Durham.
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If John Carey (May 12), a member of your staff, is so happy to be a member of that staff and who feels it so right to he a member of that community and to attend Mass, why does he not take instrucions in the Faith?
1 iiivsclf. an ex-Anglican, used to attend Mass for quite a long period, hut never eve: felt "hurt" at not being able to receive Holy Communion, because I accepted and understood the reason why. Receiving Holy Communion in the Catholic Church is very different from receiving in the Anglican Church. The present Queen, who is head of the Anglican Chursle took a vow to "uphold the Protestant faith of England and Wales". If she thought the two 1-aiths %ere exactly the same, she would hardly have found it necessary to take such a vow.
Perhaps it would be a good idea if John Carey and others who feel "hurt" could stop and ponder over the immense "hurt" inflicted on Our Divine Lord by Henry VIII in the 16th century, when he tore hristendom apart in this lovely hind, knoss n for centuries as The Dov, rs uf Mary'.
B. Isherwood Newark,
In Alex C,osgrave's report .(May 19) of her recent visit to the Netherlands, she notes that some Dutch Catholics refused to accept that the geographical area where they lived should determine the church where they worshipped.
feel sure that most English Catholics have to pass (as 1 do) seveial Christian places of worship before arriving at their local Catholic parish church and this reminds us how far we are away from the ideal of parish as a community.
All attempts we make to get to know, and pray with, the Christians who lire near us tend to be frustrated by Church disunity (although they are crucially important if we are to end it.) Moreover, at least until vocations started falling off badly, our (Catholic) parish boundaries were rarely drawn with other than financial considerations to the forefront: how many villages or housing estates are needed for there to be enough Catholics to support a priest?
Although we are urged to report "our" parish, it is little use pretending an parish is one natural community, and parish activities often cut across community efforts we are making as Christians in our immediate neighbourhood.
Undoubtedly shopping around different Catholic churches helps those who go to this trouble: I know a family which takes a round 80mile trip every Sunday to go to Mass where the children can feel part of the worshipping community: they say (and I believe them) that it is the nearest to home But although many have good reason to disapprove of the way in which their parishes work, should we not at least ackowledge that if we absent ourselves from our parish worship and travel to Mass elsewhere, we cannot contribute to making "our" parish — however impersonal and/or priest-dominated now — more of a Christian community?
Martin Davis Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
Why does Alex Cosgrave think (May .19) that the composition of music by church choirs is a mark of our coming of age — whatever that might mean? There is already plenty of second-rate music around.
As an amateur choirmaster I do not see it as part of my role to be adding to it by forcing on our congregation anything of mine, and I think that goes for members of my choir too. My problem is finding enough opportunities to perform the wealth of first-rate music which already exists.
It is just not true that modern music is confined to folk hymns and hymns from other Churches. There are works within the competence of modest choirs by Vaughan Williams, Britten, Walton, Howells, Harris and Radcliffe (to name but a few).
As to hymns, may I suggest your correspondent takes a look at the New Catholic Hymnal? She will find lots of modern tunes there, including many commissions and examples ur the work of some of our most distinguished contemporary composers.
Christopher Starr Horsmondcn, Tonbridge, Kent.