Liturgical Formation

We are going to be talking about Liturgical Formation next week at the General Synod.

At a pre-synod meeting last night, I found myself wondering whether anyone else had the vague notion in their head that in some way, what happens in a cathedral is part of the liturgical formation of a diocese.  Does what we do in St Mary’s have any effect on the liturgical norms or expectations or hopes of people furth of the Kelvin and the Clyde? Should we be promoting anything?



  1. I think it depends on where your pals go as incumbents!

  2. Eamonn says

    Cathedrals have always been sui generis. They probably have more in common with each other than any of them has with the majority of parish churches.

  3. When I was in Edinbrugh, St Mary’s felt seperate. In Glasgow, it always felt like a gift to the diocese (a sense that remained even when the internal life of the cathederal may have been quite difficult.) It is for the wider diocese, and bound to the wider diocese in several ways.

    1. It does what others often can’t. Week after week after week of dependable beauty in worship.

    2. It models balence: old and new, intellectual and emotional, sound and silence… We all aim for this, but but cathederal tends to lead the way.

    3. If offers a place of healing. (sacred space, beauty, transformation of imagination…) I began coming to St M’s as an ordinand. At that time I loved it for the fact that it asked nothing of me — I was not known, and could just ‘be’. Later, I knew more people, but the congregation is used of offering spacious hospitality: letting people slip in and join in, or slip in and slip away as they need to. It is therefore a haven for people who need space from their usual worshipping community, or want to pray and be steeped in beauty without getting swamped with rotas and commitments. (though the irony of good liturgical formation is that it should ultimately send those very people back into the midst of the community to engage with the irksome rotas as part of communal life…)

    4. It is a resource base. THere have been lots of times when I’ve turned to someone one the team for musical or liturgical advice or opintion. I suspect I’m not the only one. Dozens of informal conversations have influence across a wide net.

    And, given Chris’ comment, I should make it clear that I would have said all the same things before Kelvin’s time, and have yet to see him in situ.

    I realise that I seem to have said nothing of music. It is all about music. And I dare say Frikki and Ollie raise the stakes for the rest of what goes on week after week.

  4. Eamonn says

    The features you rightly see in the Cathedral, Kimberly, are easier to realise because Cathedrals have the advantage of being able to remain open: most local churches can’t do this. In principle, however, there is no reason why a local church can’t provide some or all of these qualities. I would be concerned, however, if the effectiveness of a church’s worship were judged by the yardstick of its diocesan cathedral. Each church has its own job to do, and evolves its own style in response to that task, as I know you would agree. Moving around the diocese, I have found considerable spiritual power in styles of worship which are far removed from those customary in cathedrals.
    It remains true, needless to say, that a congregation which does not remain in touch with the resources offered by its diocesan cathedral could rapidly become spiritually anorexic.

  5. kelvin says

    I think that there is quite a difference between the expectations which surround a cathedral and what St Mary’s is actually like.

    The style of worship that we have is eclectic. Last weekend, the music included Bernadette Farrell, a John Bell psalm, Buxtehude, Anglican Chant, Marty Haugen, something that was written for the occasion and a Star Wars medley before the 1030 service, which had loads of kids, partly due to the baptism.

    Everyone seemed to go home happy, and the services hung together beautifully. I’d like to think that the mixed reality of what goes on here might be more formative than the expectations that are floating around of what a “cathedral style” of worship is. We are also aiming for a service which it liturgically coherent at the same time as being more relaxed and good humoured than many a place that I’ve worshipped.


  1. […] Posted by revk on June 4th, 2007 Since my last post I have been doing a lot of thinking about the whole question of what is Liturgy Formation? Spurred on in part by the question Fr Kelvin asks on his blog. […]

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