The Role Of Music In New Monasticism

Amanda  Haste is writing a book about the role of music in neo-monastic communities to be published by Routledge next year.  I replied to her queries about The Community of Aidan and Hilda on the following lines:

The Community of Aidan and Hilda seeks to weave together the God-given strands in Christianity which have become separated, so it feels free to draw on charismatic songs, Orthodox chants, Catholic and traditional hymns and contemporary music, or silence. Since we are not residential, and our commitment to a rhythm of prayer three times a day is routinely on an individual basis or within one’s local church, we cannot say that any one music tradition marks us out.

However, we do draw on the Celtic tradition, which performers Julie and Nigel Cameron-Hall (of Celtisch) can tell you more about. I edited The Celtic Hymnbook which  Mayhew publishes.  

We have drawn up a CAH Book of Prayer Rhythms and I have produced the four volume Celtic Prayer Book and Liturgies from Lindisfarne which from page 401, lists some suggested hymns for days and seasons from The Celtic Hymnbook, but none of these prayer books  print music.

Frequently, nowadays, the leader of group prayer will invite worshippers to listen to music from their i-phone.

As I reflect on your valuable study, I can say that I think of playing a recording of Sean Davey’s Patrick’s Breastplate  as we say words in Morning Prayer such as ‘I arise today in the radiance of sun, stability of earth and wildness of wind.’ As we say words in Midday Prayer such as ‘Christ be beside me, Christ be before me, Christ be behind me, King of my heart …’ we may sing these to the tune Bunessan.  As we say evening or night prayer we may sing or listen to a Celtic blessing such as ‘Deep peace of the running wave to you’. 

As regards our Community’s name, and its pilgrimage ministry on The Holy Island of Lindisfarne, we often sing ‘Here be the peace of those who do your sacred will…’(based on a prayer written in the name of St. Aidan - Celtic Hymnbook no.73). Members of our Community in Norway sing ‘Sanger Frau Lindisfarne’ – a selection in Norsk adapted from The Celtic Hymnbook.

I have recently read a book about Hildegaard of Bingen, which inspired  me to add an insight into my draft commentary on our Way of Life as follows: 'How else may we lay up treasures of heaven? Practice singing the songs of our soul... Hilda calls us to ‘release the song in every human heart’. To do this we need to attune to the music of the inner being’ ….

Perhaps inspired by our charism of 'love of the poor' and of the  tradition, of Saint Hilda releasing the song in an unlettered cowherd who at first dared not sing in a 'Karaoke' of those days until he had a night vision and was encouraged by Hilda to pursue this as a lay vocation, we have quarterly 'Passing the Harp' gatherings on Zoom, when anyone present  (whatever their social skills) contributes a song,  poem, picture or recorded music and may share how it inspires them.


PS  Read 'The Cowshed Revolution' if you live in a country that despairs of good government.


Posted at 11:07am on 18th October 2022
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