Conservatory’s Church Music Degree Programme: Are Anglicans Protestant? (No.)

Are Anglicans Protestant? No they’re not. Not from my extensive experience in The Church. Anglicans resent and reject being called “Protestants.” I know I do since I’m a High Church person. And as I point out in this article, decades ago the US Episcopal Church — which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion — when they revised The Book of Common Prayer and The Hymnal deleted/removed the word “Protestant” from both books. Today, the Church in the States is referred to as The Episcopal Church. I never heard any Anglicans refer to themselves as “Protestant” when I was very active in The Church. I’m well aware that the conservative BBC will tell you differently — and they have likely brainwashed thousands of people in the UK and elsewhere to think that Anglicans are Protestants because the BBC think in this rigid, outdated black and white term of “Catholics and Protestants,” particularly in their news coverage, but it’s really not that simplistic. If one is not (Roman) Catholic, it does not at all mean that one is automatically Protestant. That’s very trite and frankly ignorant thinking, as I explain below. Maybe they would find this chart useful to correct their ignorance:

As you can see, Anglicanism is not part of Protestantism. Another example of this is that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are not Protestant either and they are not Catholic. These days, Anglicans and (Roman) Catholics are more like sister churches. I don’t see the Archbishop of Canterbury and other Anglicans “protesting” the Catholics or the Pope these days. They disagree on some social issues — just like some Protestant churches disagree with other Protestant churches on some social issues — and they disagree on the role of women in the Church, but other than that, Catholics and Anglicans are quite close with each other. Their Liturgies are nearly identical. One difference in that regard is that the Catholics omit the last part of The Lord’s Prayer (“For thine is the kingdom…”) where as Anglicans say the whole thing. From what I’ve observed online, some Catholics live with an unfortunate and misguided superiority complex and under the illusion that they are the superior Church — that’s ludicrous — and insist that “Anglicans come home to the real church.” (roll eyes) Oh por favor/Oh please, get over yourselves, Catholics. Stop being so ugly. You’re no more “superior” than any other denomination.

Hola a todos. Last Fall in the Conservatory, some of the organ majors in the Church Music degree programme were talking about their church jobs. Several of them said they were organist in Anglican parishes. They felt fortunate they were able to land jobs in churches of the Anglican Communion rather than — as they put it — “in some Protestant church” where they had no interest in working. I knew exactly how they felt having served as Organist-Choirmaster in some Anglican parishes and as a chorister in one Anglican Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. In our opinion, the Anglicans have the finest music — of a very rich British choral tradition — of any Christian denomination, especially with the music of Herbert Howells and his many anthems and canticle settings (Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis), particularly what’s known as the Big Three: St Paul’s Service (composed for the acoustics and Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral), the Gloucester Service (composed for the acoustics and Choir of Gloucester Cathedral) and the Collegium Regale Service (composed for the acoustics and Choir of the Chapel of King’s College, Cambridge) and Howells’s organ works. My first church job was in a rather Low Church parish although the Vicar was working on making the parish more High Church. Then later, I accepted a position in an Anglo-Catholic (High Church) parish, where incense permeated the Nave throughout the week. There was no incense (yet) in the Lower Church I mentioned. In the conversation in the Conservatory I mentioned how the conservative BBC used to — and probably still does since I don’t listen to them anymore — make all Anglicans out to be “Protestant” by using the language “the Catholics and the Protestants” in their news coverage. Some of the organ majors thought that was very simplistic and outdated. I agree. Because when I was actively involved in the Anglican Church, I never heard anyone refer to us as Protestants. Instead, there were/are the Roman Catholics, the Protestants and then there are the Anglicans who fall into this neutral grey area, although I wouldn’t expect the conservative BBC to know that. And ever since the BBC’s Andrew Gilligan affair (he’s turned out to be quite the bigot from my research), the BBC have gone down hill. I no longer have the respect for them that I once did because of their sloppy and pro-Establishment, conservative news coverage. From what mi amigo/my friend tells me about the BBC, they also seem to go out of their way to worship the Mob Boss/orange thug/international bully currently occupying the white house. As I pointed out to the organ majors, in the non-United States, back in the late 1970s when The Book of Common Prayer was updated — and some sexist language was removed such as “mankind” was changed to humankind — and The Hymnal was revised, the word “Protestant” was removed/deleted from both books. It now reads, “The Episcopal Church.” So obviously, people in positions of authority within The Episcopal Church in the non-United States don’t consider The Episcopal Church to be “Protestant.” I was pleased to see that change because it reflected my views. So, based on that, at least in the States, the Episcopal Church — which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion — is not Protestant. And Protestant is not something that I or anyone I knew ever gave any thought to or talked about, nor did I hear it talked about. I never heard any priest say in a Homily, “As Protestants, we need to ….” If anything, the priest referred to us “as Anglicans or Episcopalians….”

I remember having a brief discussion with a neighbour one time. I told her that I was organist in an Anglican parish and she said, “Oh, they’re not even Protestant.” I thought (but didn’t say): Well what does that have to do with anything? Then she told me she was Southern Baptist. Oh, okay. Tough luck. I can’t think of anything positive to say about the Southern Baptists. I had quite a bit of experience in various SB churches in my early years and most of the people were very nice to me, but I can’t say much for their music or their style of worship. And I found that many SBs seemed to be intimidated by Anglicans and Catholics, in part, because the Anglican Liturgies are drastically different than the podunk style of worship found in most SB churches. I once invited a Southern Baptist acquaintance of mine to the Anglican parish where I served as Organist-Choirmaster. She said: “Oh I don’t know anything about that. I don’t know the Anglican ‘service.'” I said: You don’t have to. Sit on the back pew and observe, nobody will say anything to you to bother you. She said: “No, I think not.” I sensed she was intimidated by just the thought of being in an Anglican Liturgy. I knew her to be prejudiced against Catholics — since there was a Catholic family in the neighbourhood — and sensed she shared the same view towards Anglicans.

So regarding this “Protestants and Catholics” ignorance/brainwashing, do the grand and glorious Anglican cathedral churches with their Choir of Men and Boys (and sometimes Girls) throughout the UK look “Protestant” to you? You’ll not find a Southern Baptist, Presbyterian, or Methodist church — all Protestant denominations — that look anything like this. Does St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in London look “Protestant” to you? Below is an image of the Quire area facing the High Altar. And see the short reddish-orange drapes up on the upper right level (second story below the first arch) right above the Quire? The organ console is up there.

File:St Paul's Cathedral Choir looking east, London, UK - Diliff.jpg

Then below, is the superb Choir of Men and Boys of St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in London, a Cathedral Church of the Anglican Communion. Does this look “Protestant” to you? Southern Baptists, Methodists and Presbyterians (3 Protestant denominations that readily come to mind) don’t have anything like this: (In fact they would likely say, “That’s a picture from a Catholic church.”)

St. Paul's Cathedral Choir | Discography | Discogs

What about Westminster Abbey in London? This is the Quire area:

Pictures of Westminster Abbey - Royal Wedding

The average person would probably ask: What’s the name of this Catholic Cathedral pictured above? It’s not a “Catholic Cathedral.” It’s an Anglican Abbey church.

Below is Gloucester Cathedral (the cathedral church of the Anglican composer Herbert Howells). His “smoky” Gloucester Service — one of my favourites (especially the Gloria where the trebles/boys soar up to the high A on the text “As it was in the beginning…”, absolutely glorious when done well) — was written for the Cathedral Choir, organ and acoustics of this cathedral church:

So again, do the Anglican Cathedrals in the UK look like a “Protestant” church to anyone? Does St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral and the Choir of Men and Boys look like a “Protestant” church to you?

I ask that question twice because here (below) is one of your typical Protestant churches with its tacky movie screens on the wall behind the pulpit there in the center:

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Or this drab-looking hick church (image below) — I think it’s probably fundamentalist Southern Baptist — with their Praise Band setup on that platform or whatever they call it. In the Anglican Church, that area is called the Sanctuary. Whereas, in Protestant churches, the entire room where the worship service is held — they don’t call it a Liturgy or Festive Choral Eucharist or Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion or Mass — is called the sanctuary. In the Anglican Church, the entire room where the congregation sits is called the Nave. Then you have the Sanctuary area where the free-standing altar is, then the Quire area, the Chancel and so forth. Southern Baptists and probably most Protestants would know nothing about any of that. Also, Anglicans stand for praise, sit for instruction and kneel for prayer as well as for the Consecration. Although these days, some Anglicans are standing more for prayer when kneelers are not available. Is that to be more like the (Roman) Catholics? The Southern Baptists, for example, don’t do anything but sit or stand and sway to tacky music.

Although occasionally one will find a unique church of the Southern Baptist Convention. I played in one a few times in high school. I enjoyed playing their pipe organ. They were really more like Anglicans and that’s why I liked that church. They followed the Liturgical Year — I’d never known any Southern Baptist Church to do that — and they had a very fine Organist-Choirmaster, and she tried to make the music more Anglican. If there were such a thing as High Church Baptist, they would be it. They had the finest Church Choir around. I remember talking about them with a relative and he said, “Yeah, they’re weird there. They’re not like other churches of the Southern Baptist Convention.” I didn’t think they were “weird” at all. They were the best Baptist Church around, in my opinion as a trained musician. They were a more sophisticated type of Baptist.

Then there this Protestant/Southern Baptist Church below with their little baptistry back there in the wall where the cross is hanging: I think I’ve made the point. As you can see, the Anglican churches — cathedral churches in this case — look nothing like the Protestant churches, nor is their Mass, Festive Choral Eucharist, Holy Eucharist or Holy Communion (depending upon what they call it) liturgy anything like that of the Protestant’s “worship service.” I think that’s what most of them call it. This looks more like a movie theatre than a church:

The Corner of Hope

Many people often mistake both Anglican buildings (parishes and cathedral churches) for a Catholic cathedral. Some people mistakenly think some parish churches are cathedrals. I’ve seen St Thomas Church Fifth Avenue in Manhattan — which is a church of the Anglican Communion with its well-known Choir of Men and Boys — referred to as a cathedral, just because of its Gothic structure. St Thomas is a parish, it’s not a cathedral. St Thomas is not the seat of the Bishop of New York. The seat of the Bishop is the Cathedral Church of St John the Divine in Manhattan.

For those who don’t know, Anglicans have multiple names worldwide: Church of England (known as “the Mother Church”) or abbreviated CofE, and Episcopalians (depending upon what country you’re in). They are just different names for the same church of what’s known as the world-wide Anglican Communion. From my experience, in the non-United States where the church is officially known as The Episcopal Church, the High Church people usually refer to themselves as Anglicans and the Low Church people refer to themselves as Episcopalians.

In doing a brief search, I found the following questions: Why do Protestants not make the sign of the cross? Anglicans and Catholics make the sign of the cross. Why don’t Protestants bow to the processional crosses as they pass in procession? Anglicans and Catholics do (or they are supposed to which one learns in Confirmation Class). I think the Methodists and Presbyterians have a procession but I’m not sure whether their processions include acolytes or not. Why don’t Protestants use Holy Water? Anglicans and Catholics use Holy Water. Why don’t Protestants honour the Virgin Mary? Anglicans and Catholics honour the Virgin Mary. She’s part of the creeds, for example. The Protestant Southern Baptists have never heard of The Nicene Creed or the Apostles’s Creed. Why do Protestants not have a Vigil Candle? Anglicans and Catholics have a Vigil Candle because they genuflect to the reserved sacrament which the lit Vigil Candle indicates is present. Why do the Protestants not bow to the name “Jesus” when his name appears in the Liturgy? Anglicans bow to the name “Jesus” or rather the Anglo-Catholics/High Church people do. I could get deeper and deeper into this, but I don’t think there’s any reason to. I think the point has been made. Why don’t Protestants genuflect — to the reserved sacrament — at the side of the pew before entering and when existing? Anglicans do. If I were to keep going with this and particularly with Southern Baptists or Presbyterians or some Methodists, again, they wouldn’t have any idea what I’m even talking about. They’d likely ask me, “Are you Catholic?”

I used to know two women. One was Catholic and the other was (Low Church) Episcopalian. Whenever they talked about the two churches, the Catholic would say to the Anglican: They’re practically the same church. Well yes, in many ways depending upon where you go. The Catholics and Anglicans differ over some social issues and the Catholics have become more Low Church over time, some trying to be more like Protestants and borrowing Protestant hymns, such as “How Great Thou Art” of all things! The Methodists are someone in a grey area themselves because from my understanding they use The Nicene Creed, which the Southern Baptists have never heard of. With the Methodists, there may be some other differences with them that I’m unaware of.

I suppose one might be able to find some Anglicans/Episcopalians somewhere who will insist they are Protestants. Ugh. Most likely Low Church people. But if you ask me, again, Anglicans are not Protestant, and especially the Anglo-Catholics/High Church. Maybe in the UK most Anglicans think of themselves as “Protestants” merely repeating that “Protestants and Catholics” brainwashed thinking they’ve heard from the BBC for decades that I wrote about earlier.

Those at Washington National Cathedral (WNC) in the District of Columbia might call themselves “Protestant” as they often try to lean on the Low Church side of things — as if they’re trying to please everyone, particularly the tourists (pre-COVID-19) — using hymns that some Protestant churches use, such as “We’re Marching to Zion” and “Bringing in the Sheaves” and other tacky Protestant hymns that I’ve not heard other Anglican churches ever use. The Choirmaster at WNC oddly also has the Cathedral Choir sit outside the Quire stalls — which are specifically for the Choir — and sit in the Sanctuary area giving a more “Protestant” look (think Southern Baptist) to the Liturgy. Because in Protestant denominations, the Church Choir often sits behind the pulpit which is the center of attention, not the High Altar. There is no High Altar in Protestant churches.

Some people don’t even consider Anglicans to be Christian because of their (usually) more forward-thinking views especially in the non-United States. The cultists of the orange thug/international bully/chronic liar in the white house are some of the people who would want nothing to do with Anglicans yet their messiah — on the rare occasion he goes to church (his church is usually a golf course) — goes to Washington National Cathedral in the District of Columbia, or for a photo op he chose St John’s parish in the District across from la casa blanca/the white house.

Recently a television network in France did a segment on women in the church and how “Protestant churches” have women as priests but Catholics don’t. So they interviewed the female Dean at an Anglican Cathedral in Paris, which I found odd, because, again, Anglicans are not Protestant. I guess they didn’t know that or are of that simplistic/black and white mindset that anyone who is not Catholic is automatically dumped into the Protestant category? So why would they go to an Anglican Cathedral? You would think they would have gone to a Baptist or Methodist or Presbyterian Church somewhere in France instead. Those denominations would be in the “Protestant” category. These days, Anglicans and Catholics are like sister churches. The two churches are so close that there are Roman Catholic priests who attend state ceremonies in the UK Anglican churches.

I’m well aware of the history of the Anglican Church and its founding by a member of the British Royal Family and protesting the Pope and all that, but again, today the Roman Catholic and the Anglican Church are more like sister churches than one “protesting” the other or as rivals. They disagree on many social issues, but their Liturgies are nearly identical. Although Anglicans most often have the best music, in my opinion.

As I said above, I’m well aware that if you listen to the BBC, they’re probably still using that language about “the Catholics and the Protestants” when speaking about conflicts, disputes between religious group, but the BBC is rather outdated and conservative, so consider the source. That “Catholics and Protestants” language is sloppy language, and it also speaks to some ignorance of what Anglicans are about. I suppose if you look real hard, you might be able to find some podunk Low Church somewhere in the Anglican Communion that considers itself “protestant.”

There are some distinct differences between Anglicans. Take Mother’s Day, for example. The Low Church honours earthly mother on that day. They will honour the youngest and oldest mother present in the congregation. (roll eyes). In other words, they celebrate breeding. The High Church honours the Virgin Mary. The High Church will have a Mary Shrine for people to kneel and pray to. The Low Church does not honour Mary except the references to her in the Nicene Creed, for example.

When I was Organist-Choirmaster in a Low Episcopal Church, the word Protestant was never used, and just before I left that parish to move to San Francisco the priest was making that Low Church higher church. In the cathedral church I was a musician in, the cathedral was “middle” but the music — from the superb organist and his Herbert Howells’s style improvisations and the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys — made the Liturgy feel High Church, and most of the staff were very British-focused. I heard the word Anglican more at the cathedral than I heard the word Episcopalian. Then I was Organist-Choirmaster in an Anglo-Catholic parish and none of us considered ourselves to be Protestant what-so-ever. We resented the word. If anything, we considered ourselves closer to Catholics, but still Anglicans.

My major piano instructor as a child and through high school was Organist-Choirmaster in an Episcopal parish, and there was nothing “Protestant” about her. Even though she told me when I asked her that her parish was “Oh it’s very Low Church,” she was more of a High Church person.

That’s another difference between the Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran churches and the Protestants and that’s the placement of the organ console and pipes. In the non-Protestant churches — Anglican, Catholic and Lutheran), because the (High) Altar is the center of attention, the organ and Cathedral Choir or Parish Choir are 1) on the sides, like the seating arrangement in the British Parliament. Or, 2) both the organ console and the Choir are in the back of the Nave (on what is essentially the second or third floor of the Nave) in the Choir Loft. Or, 3) which is elaborating on #1 above: the organ console and Choir are concealed in the Quire area in back of the Sanctuary area. Or 4) in the UK, the organ console is sometimes on the second story above the Quire area (think: St Paul’s Cathedral). At Washington National Cathedral, the organ console is nonmoveable and is in the back of the Quire area and the organist has a monitor above the music rack for observing the Nave, Sanctuary and Quire areas for organ improvisations in processions and other places in the Liturgy. The Protestants; however, place the organ “up front” (as they call it; the entrance doors into the church are in “the back of the church”) and the organ pipes are often displayed on or in the back wall behind the pulpit resembling a concert hall rather than a place of worship. The pulpit, organ console and the Choir are the centre of attention in Protestant churches rather than the High Altar. Some Protestant churches have a little table below the pulpit that they call the altar for the placement of offering plates. When I was active in Protestant churches — Southern Baptist, for example — they only had Holy Communion once every three months with little wafers and grape juice in tiny little “shot” glasses. I’ll assume that’s still the case — I don’t really care frankly! — since religions and religious practises don’t change much. The non-Protestants (Anglicans, Catholics and Lutherans) have wafers and wine for Communion on a weekly basis usually. Some small Anglican parishes will have Morning Prayer twice a month and Holy Communion twice a month, alternating the two Liturgies.

Some large Protestant churches have large Choirs usually wearing tacky choir robes. (I don’t like Choir robes). Their thinking seems to be: Quantity over quality. Choral Excellence is not usually the focus or concern, but rather “let’s see how many people — whether they have any musical training or not! — we can get in our Choir to fill up this large Choir Loft in back of the pulpit.” With this Southern Baptist church below from Texas, I think they’re trying to look like the podunk Mormon Tabernacle Choir (not one of the best choral ensembles around), and they’ve covered up their organ pipes with tacky movie screens. As you can see, the pulpit is there in the centre, down there somewhere. I think they’re trying to make things look better than they are with the use of coloured LED lighting. I like the blue/purple lighting. They need all the help they can get! It looks like a phaser-beam is in the ceiling. Is that waiting to vaporise any “sinners” who walk under it? But as you can see, it looks nothing like an Anglican parish or cathedral church. Mi amigo/My friend said: That looks like a Las Vegas casino or a political convention hall. But a church? No. It reeks of making dinero/money and has very little to do with religion, other than brainwashing people with prejudiced and bigoted thinking, since this is a church of the Southern Baptist Convention.

Yesterday afternoon, our church family... - Second Baptist Church, Houston,  TX | Facebook

Organist Diane Bish played the inaugural organ concert for this church, on a broken organ (newly installed 194 Rank Rodgers’s Pipe Organ). Here’s Elgar’s Nimrod. One of my favorite pieces, but I do prefer the original orchestral version (performed by the Warsaw Philharmonic Orchestra). I enjoyed Diane’s playing of Nimrod. I know some of the classical music armchair critics don’t like her (and I don’t like them) — might they be envious and or jealous of her and The Joy of Music? — but frankly I don’t care whether one likes her or not. I’ve enjoyed Diane’s playing over the years. I was very pleased to see that organist Paul Jacobs had Diane give a Master Class at The Juilliard School awhile back. Paul is Chairperson of the Organ Department at Juilliard. So Paul respects her. From what I read sometime ago about this performance in Texas, some of the divisions or ranks of organ pipes “blew out” or stopped working before Diane’s performance, so she had to make do with what she had. I don’t have any details on that, but that’s what I read. Don’t know if it’s true. I don’t know where the moveable organ console is today based on that image above. Or have they abandoned the pipe organ altogether in favour of a tacky Praise Band? Mi amigo/My friend asked near the end of the performance: “What is Diane looking at? (She was looking at her feet). Is she praying with her head down?” I told him: No, you’ve seen organists look at their feet. I presume she’s changing registration with the toe pistons and expression boxes on an organ that she’s not that familiar with. How much time did she have to practise on this organ before her performance before the National Guild of Organists group? As I was telling mi amigo: With an organ console this size, it should be in a deep pit, similar to the deep pit that my high school piano instructor was in when she was Organist-Choirmaster at the local Episcopal Church. The organ console there was in the Quire area, but the console was deep down in the floor in a deep pit and it was set up so that she conducted the parish Choir from down there. That arrangement worked splendidly and it gave priority to the High Altar — and not the large organ console — as it is supposed to be in Anglican parishes and cathedral churches.

So often, one will not hear the level of choral excellence in these Protestant churches that one hears in Anglican parishes or cathedral churches. Nor is the level of organ playing the same. Which is why some of us have said that Anglicans have the best music.

The British Royal Family probably consider themselves to be Protestants especially after hearing that rubbish about “the Catholics and Protestants” for decades over the BBC, and from what I’ve seen of the Royal Family, they are about as Low Church as you can get. For hymn singing, they are of the — what I call — “stand and mumble” type (the same type you see from the congregation at Washington National Cathedral). Queen Elizabeth II, the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, stands and pretends to be singing whilst barely moving her lips. The Royal Family could easily be mistaken for Southern Baptists as little as they put into the Liturgy. Although Will and Kate clearly enjoy the trebles of a Cathedral Choir when they sing a descant, as you can see in this video from the The National Service of Thanksgiving to Celebrate The Diamond Jubilee Of Her Majesty The Queen, St Paul’s Cathedral, Tuesday 5th June 2012. Kate sort of stopped singing to listen to the glorious descant from the trebles (sung by the trebles/boys of St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and the trebles of Her Majesty’s Chapels Royal; the latter are the boys in the red attire in the Quire stalls). Will and Kate used descants for every hymn sung in their wedding — so maybe they are sorta musically High Church, but not from anything else I’ve seen from them. In the video link above, on the last verse of the hymn the camera pulls back and shows the Sanctuary and Quire areas and you’re able to see the organ console up above the Cathedral Choir of Men and Boys. The Choirmaster is conducting the brass and the Choir, and it looks like the Cathedral Organist has a monitor for watching the Choirmaster.

And finally, I don’t know why it is, but every time there is a video of a Anglican hymn from the CoE, the conservative fake-Christians feel the need to use the comment section under the video for proselytising, displaying their musical ignorance as well as their ignorance about the Anglican Church, and writing the text from the hymn over and over. Chau.—el barrio rosa

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