1950s: Liturgical Renewal

The radical message in those days was “The Lord’s people round the Lord’s table on the Lord’s day.” The campaign, often called the Parish Communion Movement, led to a transformation in the Sunday worship in CofE parish churches throughout England.

Introducing the ‘Sung Eucharist’ as the main Sunday service deepened the spirituality of a generation of churchgoers whose attitude to churchgoing had until then been conventional, respectable and habitual. It could be regarded as the last gasp of a dying Christendom!

The new arrangements on a Sunday also strengthened the demand for liturgies in contemporary language – leading to a process of revision of liturgical texts which has rumbled on ever since.

Thank God that the renewal came just in time to equip a gradually more marginalised Church to cope with the ‘swinging sixties’.

What about today?

Many congregations today have forgotten what a revolution took place just two generations ago. They assume they have a right to a communion service as their main service each Sunday – complaining when priests are not available.

However, churches that have focused exclusively on the Sung Eucharist or ‘Parish Communion’ over the years have become increasingly ghettoised. The young families that were excited by the new services are today’s senior citizens. Those brought up in a society that no longer remembers its Christendom past find the set liturgy of Holy Communion inaccessible and unintelligible.

  • How are worshippers to express their gratitude and give glory to God if they have their noses in a book - and are worried which page to turn to next?

  • When Communion services are only gatherings of the like-minded, what evidence is there of a truly Eucharistic ‘communion of communities’?

  • Must creativity and imagination always be sacrificed to orthodoxy and tradition?

Every Step of the Way

Liturgical texts that can be used repeatedly in a wide range of circumstances need a depth of poetic insight that allows the reader/listener to keep finding new insights and new truths both in the text and in themselves.

John Hammersley wrestled with this challenge throughout his life, by exploring contemporary themes in the style of the Biblical Psalms. The result is a fine collection, 'Every Step of the Way', ideal for devotional or liturgical use. Alongside the text of the psalsm are his reflections on his own journey of faith.

EVERY STEP OF THE WAY, published by Parish & People, costs £4.50 inclusive of postage and packing.                                     

Order your copy by sending a cheque (payable to 'Parish & People'), with your name and address, to Every Step of the Way, The Knowle, Deddington, Banbury, OXFORD OX15 0TB.

EVERY STEP OF THE WAY is also available via the 'Psalms of Life' web site. http://www.psalmsoflife.com/