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London church drops classical music and John Rutter has words

London church drops classical music and John Rutter has words

Sir Henry Wood, the founder of the Proms, London’s legendary classical music festival, is buried there, but the church has decided to oust the classical musicians who rehearse and perform in its space after having gone evangelical. In The Telegraph:

Now part of a network founded by evangelical church Holy Trinity Brompton, St. Sepulchre Without Newgate Church, in Holborn, central London, will stop taking bookings from the classical musicians which have relied on it as a rehearsal and concert venue for many years.

The church became part of the evangelical group, which is known for its youth-friendly rock-band style of worship, in 2013.

Now classical groups are no longer welcome to rehearse and perform there – and resident choristers say they are “concerned that it will become a worship choir with drums and keyboards”.

In Christianity Today:

The church became part of the evangelical HTB group, which is known for its rock-band style of worship and described by some higher church conservatives as ‘happy clappy’, in 2013.

Composer John Rutter, a living legend himself, points to a recent change of leadership as having influenced the decision, according to the Telegraph:

He said the timing of the decision was “significant” because of the retirement of the former Bishop of London Richard Chartres earlier this year. His successor has not yet been appointed.

…and says the church has betrayed the musicians:

“That flies in the face of the Anglican tradition.”

…Mr Rutter said that [priest in charge the Reverend David] Mr Ingall was “betraying the community that he purports to serve. He didn’t have to take the job at the musicians church if he doesn’t like musicians.”

“The Church of England needs all the friends it can get. It shouldn’t be making enemies – it’s un-Christian,” he added.

“Churches are and should be busy places where all can walk through the door and all are welcome. That’s my feeling but it’s obviously not his feeling.”

A petition had gathered nearly 1,900 signatures as of August 14.

John Rutter image above from



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Kurt Hill

You think so, Ken? My experience here in the North (New York State) is quite different, with many local fundagelicals viewing themselves as “God’s Elect” who are empowered by the Most High to judge their peers in His Name. Archbishop William Laud’s Arminianism (and that of the Wesley brothers) is tolerable to me. But in its “hyper-Arminian revival” form it is as heretical to me as the run-of-the-mill Calvinist Evangelicalism that I often encounter among among local Baptists, Pentecostals, etc. These people seem to be locked into all that George Whitefield crap…

Kurt Hill
Brooklyn, NY

Bill Wilken

I suspect that the rise of the “happy clappy” crowd in part is a byproduct of the dreadful 19th century lyrics that characterize such a large part of Anglican hymnals worldwide.

Pete Broadbent

It’s not, of course, true that they have dropped classical music. But don’t let the facts…

Ken Howes

There really isn’t much Calvinist about most American Evangelicalism. What’s driving most of American Evangelicalism is a hyper-Arminian revivalism in which “deciding to accept Jesus Christ” is the central message (traditional Protestants, whether Lutherans, Calvinists or Prayer Book Anglicans, take Jesus at his word that “no man cometh to me unless the Father draw him.”

Jim Ryon

As a classical musician, I always find it difficult to converse about music with a non-musician. It’s like they don’t have a clue.

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