One of the great things the Anglicans have is the marvelous English hymn tradition. Unfortunately, with the ongoing secularization which has taken place in the UK in the last forty years, this is beginning to be an endangered tradition. For the older generation, chapel services were definitely a part of life. For the younger generation, unless they were raised in a religious home, this tradition is sadly not a part of their lives.
Jeremy Nicholas, an organist and a contributor to The Gramophone, Britain’s premier classical music journal has written an affectionate tribute to this tradition. However, he is clearly wondering about its future, given that when helping young couples plan their wedding, neither the bride nor the groom has any idea about what hymns would be appropriate. You can see his article by clicking here.
Perhaps the great English hymn tradition will thrive in the newly created Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham, a quasi-diocesan structure erected by Pope Benedict XVI for Anglicans would seek to join Roman Catholic Church. (So far, they have several former Church of England bishops as well as quite a few former C of E clergy among their number.)
I’m attaching a couple of examples of some of the best of the English hymn tradition. The first is “Crown Him With Many Crowns”. The second is “All People That on Earth Do Dwell”. These both come from the service at Westminster Abbey celebrating the golden jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II.
I didn’t see all of the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (Prince William and Princess Catherine), but I was very impressed with the hymns they chose.