Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Australian Church Music, Sectarianism & Secularisation

Those totally confused today by prejudiced Australian Church musicians who habitually insult and disrespect Church musicians of other Christian persuasions, can gain some insight (if not understanding) by reading Ben Edwards provocative and revealing thesis on vicious Church sectarianism in New South Wales (see link below this post). 

Despite his dig at ecumaniacs, Edwards also notes that:

"A milestone on the journey towards healing sectarian divisions occurred in Sydney in December 1957 when the first annual ecumenical Christmas pageants were held under the auspices of the Crusade for Christian Christmas Committee. These pageants saw Protestants and Catholic co-operate in an effort to remind their society, which they feared was in grave danger of secularisation, of the meaning of Christmas." (p. 168)

The Crusade for Christian Christmas pageants were still taking place in 1961 (see article in the Sydney Morning Herald, Dec 8, 1961, "Program of Crusade for Christian Christmas", p. 6) with carol singing by the St Mary's Cathedral Choir, the Latvian Choir, the Combined Police Boys Choir, the Salvation Army Choir, the Churches of Christ Choir, St Clements Mosman Choir, and the Sydney Diocesan Youth Choir. On December 22 1961, the Sydney Morning Herald published a large photograph of St Clements Choir Mosman singing at a Christmas Tableau presentation. I wonder how long it is since the SMH published a photograph of a Church Choir.

Fortunately, Sydney still enjoys many public Christmas events, perhaps not as large as the pageants of the past, and regrettably not as ecumenical. One example is the Christmas Manger Tableau placed in the forecourt of St Mary's Catholic Cathedral each year, with carol-singing.

Proddy-Dogs, Cattleticks and Ecumaniacs: Aspects of Sectarianism in New South Wales, 1945-1981. Benjamin Edwards

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