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Singing at Trump’s inaugural: National Cathedral choristers

Singing at Trump’s inaugural: National Cathedral choristers

The St. Louis Dispatch reports that the Choir of Men and Boys from Washington National Cathedral will be singing at the presidential inaugural next week, as well as the chorale of Missouri State University. The National Cathedral choir was already scheduled to participate in the interfaith prayer service on Saturday, January 21.

From the story:

It’s a surprising choice for the National Cathedral (officially the Cathedral of St. Peter and St. Paul). The Episcopal Church is a liberal denomination that has long supported women’s rights, racial equality and LGBT rights; two years ago, the Cathedral hosted Friday communal prayers for Muslims. Trump’s religious base is composed primarily of white Roman Catholics and evangelicals.

A spokeswoman for the Cathedral said that music director Michael McCarthy made the decision to take part. Messages left for McCarthy and his assistant were not returned.

Addendum, 10:54 a.m.:

Prior to publishing, the Episcopal Cafe editors, via e mail, requested and received confirmation from the Cathedral staff of the choirs’ participation in the inauguration:

The short answer is yes — the dean accepted an invitation to have the choir sing at the inauguration itself, which is an optional call for choir members who are interested. They will also lead the music here at the Cathedral on the 21st. Thanks,


Kevin Eckstrom
Chief Communications Officer

Wisconsin & Massachusetts Avenues, NW
Washington, DC   20016-5098


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Lisa Niemeier

An excellent post, Harry. And welcome. The gospels are indeed for all – Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John – in the New Testament and they, like the entire rest of the Bible, are open to interpretation. No one has any inside track to ‘the’ way to interpret them. And my view of Christianity is that we are all seekers together, helping each other on this journey called ‘life,’ and anyone who claims to have all the answers or to have privileged access of any kind is self-delusional. So Christianity is one big mess and the beauty of it all is that we pull together, without necessarily agreeing, but loving loving arch other and learning from each other – and respecting each other whether or not we interpret things the same way. Perhaps through it all, that is the only way to collectively ‘get things right.’

Harry Nicholson

To the gentleman who suggested “some commenters” spend time with the Gospels. I still consider myself a newbie Christian. What are the Gospels? Are they available online? When you say “some of the other commenters” should spend time with them, do you mean that some people don’t need to? I assume we all should read them if they give the truth, for then shouldn’t we all be in agreement about everything? But if they are only for “some” then are they for those who don’t understand Christianity or for those who already do? I suppose one good use for them would be to know who has read them and agrees with you–if they are *truth* then it will be evident. Then we know who to let in and who to keep out, by agreeing with us. Christianity is still so confusing to me!

Sara Hayes Sommer

Dreadful decision..
Sad that you would “normalize” this man in any manner. And, a children’s choir participating ?
Respectfully -To all who had a part in this decision – -Please Please rethink & do not do this.
Cancel ALL participation.

Lisa Niemeier

Thank you, Sara. So with you on everything you said.

Rachel mash

I am appalled

Thomas Lloyd

I agree with most commenting on these stories who say prayer service (but only with preaching from the gospel) yes; singing at an inauguration, no.

Holding a prayer service for the nation as has been done every four years seems an appropriate role for the church, but only if it is allowed to preach the gospel. Agreed to abstain from explicit political commentary, fine. But the president-elect gets to tell the church that there will be no preaching?

And having the choir sing at a public ceremony that is not a church service should be suspect even under normal circumstances. But this is no ordinary president elect. This is not about niceties of political philosophy. This is not a normal situation, though it is not without precedent. We have a man with an insatiable appetite for praise and power who can do great and unprincipled damage to many people both here and abroad. He claims to have Christian faith, though many feel this is as only a matter of political expediency. But how can a man who says he has never had reason to seek forgiveness for any of his words or actions possibly acknowledge the reality of the God of Jesus Christ? Only he knows the answer; we can only judge by his actions.

But we can refuse to normalize and legitimate, which is what singing at the inauguration would be. As a church musician myself, I would pray for the strength to resign if given no choice in such a situation.

Making analogies to a certain authoritarian leader in mid-20th Century Germany has been so overused, that it no longer has power to shock. But there is a photo easily found on the internet of that leader shaking hands with the leading prelates of both the Roman and Evangelical churches of his nation with beaming smiles on their faces. (Their subsequent actions made clear that their faces were genuinely approving).

Christians in our country just overwhelmingly voted in favor of a man who has given more than enough evidence to indicate serious moral risk to the republic. Will our “mainline” churches simply fall in line as those in Germany once did? Will we need a break-off Confessing Church as Germany did at that time? Hopefully not, because if it comes to that, too much damage will have already been done to too many people.

Now is the time to say that we can and will pray for our president-elect, but we will not support his fantasies of divisive, abusive, and merciless authoritarian power.

(Written from Berlin shortly after a visit to Bonhoeffer Haus.)

Lisa Niemeier

Beautifully articulated, indeed. Very grateful for your post. Praying the presiding BP, BP Budde, and Dean Hollerith take heed and rethink this terrible decision.

Philip B. Spivey

Beautifully articulated with Christian love and historical context. Thank you very much.

Let us not delude ourselves: Yes, it CAN happen here, and again.

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