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Our churches deserve better than the liturgical banalities of recent times

I READ the letter from Dr David Sutherland with interest (Letters, November 27).

It is clear that the ecumenical breadth to the new Academy of Sacred Music is capable of attracting wide sympathy ("Lay Catholic says 'lousy music' puts the young off church", The Herald, November 23).

It is an exciting development in liturgical music in Glasgow and it connects our sacred treasury of music with a deep theological and pastoral understanding of our sacred rituals and art, rooted as they are in a philosophy of love.

So far the Academy of Sacred Music has established a first-rate young choir. The church has always needed artists and has turned to them throughout the centuries, and they have built and adorned her temples, celebrated her teachings and enriched her liturgy.

Musicians especially have been "midwives of faith" and true guardians of beauty in the world.

Nevertheless, my heart goes out to those Episcopalians and others who have been forced to endure the liturgical banalities introduced by the Catholic Church since the 1970s.

Dr Sutherland mentions the Thomas More Group. Compared to some of the more recent semi-official music being promoted in church circles, the Thomas More group composers at least evince some basic skills.

However, the churches deserve better, and with congregational music, the simplest and best is Gregorian chant, in English as well as the universal language of the church, Latin. (The Anglicans have traditionally shown the way in the use of vernacular chant.)

I would hope that the various new initiatives in this area, with the active encouragement of the Royal School of Church Music, could lead to more prayerful and more beautiful liturgies, involving appropriate music for both choirs and the ordinary people in the pew.

James MacMillan CBE,

Southbrae Drive,

Jordanhill,

Glasgow.

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