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Thursday, 25 December 2014

A Boxing Day Conundrum

I was intrigued by a snippet of News on BBC Radio 3 during Breakfast this morning. Someone has calculated, on the basis of sample data, that 49% of clergy worked on Christmas Day. As a son of the parsonage I would have expected the ratio to be nearer 99% and I am bemused at what 51% of the clergy can have been up to. There are far too many 'retired' priests and bishops - their pensions are draining the Church of England's residual coffers after generations of daft management of the accumulated assets of centuries - but I would have expected that most of those would have volunteered to take services [or to assist] at some of the thousands of churches, chapels and other conventicles that no longer have their own stipendiary cleric.

Christmas is one of the greatest festivals of the church and one would expect - and hope, even - that the clergy would want to have been engaged. How very sad is the situation that seems to be indicated by the raw fact.

Another sad and silly situation in churches that commentators now almost always expect choirmasters and organists to be separate people. In the great days of English choral singing the organist and choirmaster were one person, who was heard but not seen during services. Such men [rarely women] were excellent choir trainers: and once trained, the choir got on with it while the boss accompanied the singing and played the voluntary. Now in the great majority of cases some show-off jackanapes demonstrates daily that they are not competent to train the choir and trust them to deliver, so they appear waving their arms in front of the choir thinking to receive plaudits for their incompetence. This is one of the many ways in which the third quarter of the twentieth century showed a serious decline in standards of professional competence.

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