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There is a pressing need for a solid grounding in all types of church music

AS a chorister of long standing I hesitate to intrude on the debate on your Letters Pages (November 27, 29, 30, and December 1, 3, 4, & 5) but there seems to have been a palpable hush from the musical and theological hierarchy of the Church of Scotland which I find strange.

I was one of those who sang the Dream of Gerontius in the Bute Hall. This was a mainly secular amateur choir and a secular orchestra of mixed professionals and amateurs doing a performance to honour an eminent churchman and to add some encouragement to Joan Dillon's enterprise.

Those of us who sing in church choirs attached to the Church of Scotland have undergone a succession of musical compilations recently all of which have been trying to popularise singing within the act of worship. I find it puzzling that there has been no attempt to do a bit of joined-up thinking here. No-one seems to have addressed the basic problem which is that singing as a skill seems to be no longer taught as a matter of course in schools. Harmony or part singing, as distinct from unison, appears to be beyond the abilities of most people yet I can remember the full-bodied part singing of the old Scottish Psalms and Paraphrases and the enjoyment of that deep participation. Then we had CH3 (Church Hymnary No.3) and a lot of new unison music appeared only to be followed by CH4 which went even further down that line. Those who are not members of the Church of Scotland might find it strange that a goodly number of the hymns in CH4 are either arranged or composed by the convener of the committee that selected the contents.

I confess that I find it difficult to hear better singing in churches today than in the past in spite of all the modernisation and I can only hope that someday there will be a recognition that music, of whatever kind, has to be taught at the ground level and then there might be something to improve upon within the constraints of the liturgy.

Tony Brooke,

9 Campbell Drive, Bearsden.

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