The cathedral city of Wells in the Somerset region of England is named, not surprisingly, for the nearby wells that continuously pour forth fresh, clear water. Culturally, historically, and Biblically, wells have been places for gathering and for healing. And so it was with a pilgrimage taken recently by choir members and others from St. Alban’s to be in residence at Wells Cathedral, singing the daily service of Evensong and the full complement of Sunday services. We gathered, we prayed and sang, and those broken places in each of us surely experienced moments of healing at some point during the week.
Wells are usually deep places that reach far into the ground before life-giving water is found. What may have surprised some on the trip is how deeply connected we are to our Anglican roots. We sang daily for Evensong, which is a service that stems from Vespers and the earliest days of the church, in a building with 12th century beginnings, in language from the 1662 Book of Common Prayer. How could we not feel that we were reaching into the well of our life-giving Anglican heritage? What may have surprised others is that the wells of Wells lavishly pour their water into the city streets with an abundance that is easily seen and touched.
There was an article in The New York Times on July 14 that asked the question, “Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved?”. Author Ross Douthat has ideas that might be controversial or unpalatable to some, but he finishes with a thought that I have come to appreciate:
Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism. Which suggests that perhaps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world?
At Wells Cathedral we experienced historic Christianity in a way that was indeed offered uncompromisingly and unapologetically to the world. Prayers and music were woven into each service with a care and quality that demanded our best efforts and full attention. The well of our faith and Anglicanism is deep and life-giving. As a musician in this church I hope that we can continue to find ways to offer an Anglican approach to faith, through music and liturgy, uncompromisingly to the world. As a Christian I can hope that the fruits of our Anglicanism are easily touched and seen in the streets around us.
In fairness, here is a link to the entire New York Times article: P5BJnm
How beautifully you captured the essence of the trip–thank you.
(I never knew what that meant in the psalms, but I think it has something to do with raising our voices! And I add mine to Sonya’s.