Law and religion round-up – 25th June

Factual rather than “patriotic” coverage of the week’s events…

EU-UK Brexit talks

Whilst it is premature to comment extensively on the Brexit talks between the UK and the EU, one outcome of Monday’s meeting was agreement on the EU’s insistence on “sequencing”. Article 50 TFEU envisages two agreements: an exit agreement concerning issues relating to the departure of the UK from the EU and an agreement on future relations, which for the UK essentially means trade. David Allen Green comments: ”The UK want(ed) both to be negotiated together, in parallel. The EU wanted a number of preliminary issues discussed before the parties moved on to discussing future trade relations”. The UK’s insistence on “sequencing” was likely to be, in the words of David Davis, “the row of the summer”. However, the EU chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, stated:

“In a first step, we will deal with the most pressing issues. We must lift the uncertainty caused by Brexit. We want to make sure that the withdrawal of the UK happens in an orderly manner. Then, in a second step, we will scope our future relationship.”

This was confirmed by the Department for Exiting the European Union.

The Queen’s Speech and the Great Repeal Bill

The Government’s intention as announced in the Gracious Speech on Wednesday is that the (evidently no longer “Great”) Repeal Bill will allow for a smooth and orderly transition as the UK leaves the EU, ensuring that, wherever practical, the same rules and laws apply after Brexit as before it. The Bill will: Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: Application

Does Canon B 20 reflect current patterns of music in the Church of England?

The new and updated Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians, (“the Opinion”) was added to the Church of England’s Document Library on 4 April 2017 together with legal advice on other issues. This was covered in our two-part analysis: Parish Music Guidance: Ministers and organists and Parish Music Guidance: employment issues, the latter prompting a comment on the relevance to churches where there is no organist or choir. Whilst it is clear that both Canon B 20 and the Opinion encompass organists and “all musicians in similar positions” [though clearly not “all musicians”], in practice their application to “church music groups” is not necessarily straightforward.  Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: employment issues

Part II of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

An earlier post considered the Church of England’s updated legal advice Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians (*the Opinion”), focusing on the issues relating to organists (and “all musicians in similar positions”), music and the clergy. Here we comment the employment issues addressed in the document and consider in more detail the cases referred to in the Opinion: Sholl v PCC of St Michael’s with St James, Croydon, paragraph 12, and three German cases before the ECtHR – Obst, Schüth and Siebenhaar, paragraph 18. For completeness, additional material on of Ready-Mixed Concrete (South East) Ltd v Minister of Pensions and National Insurance and Neary v Dean of Westminster has also been included. Specific references to the canon law of the Church of England apart, much of the advice is relevant to other religious communities.

Continue reading

Parish Music Guidance: Ministers and organists

Part I (of 2) of our analysis of new CofE legal opinion on organists and parish music

On 4 April 2017, new and updated legal advice on a number of issues was added to the Church of England’s Document Library. In view of its relevance at the time vis-à-vis the forthcoming wedding of Pippa Middleton, we first reviewed that relating to Celebrity Marriages shortly followed by a post on Royal Marriages, prompted by media speculation relating to Prince Harry. The document Parish Music: organists and choirmasters and church musicians, (*the Opinion”) concerns organists and “all musicians in similar positions” [though clearly not “all musicians”]. This is discussed below with regard to issues concerning the music and the clergy. A further post  considers the related employment law issues. Continue reading

Lenten tips for choristers

  • Erdinger Weissbier is an acceptable 0% alcohol beer.
  • On Ash Wednesday, always wipe off ash before removing one’s surplice.
  • Performance time of Allegri’s Miserere Mei, Deus is 12 to 13 minutes, and if sung during the ashing might be tailored to the size of the congregation, cut from end of v8 to the start of v17, i.e. only 4 top Cs in total if sop’s solo is shaky.
  • Remember during Friday practice, there’ll be a choir Mass at half-time rather than “graveyard ghosts”.
  • Wash your feet on Maundy Thursday, it might be you. Continue reading

Church music, Vatican II and the Council of Trent

Does a recent recording’s release mark a change in the Roman Catholic Church’s attitude to music?

On 7 October, il Bollettino reported that the Holy See Press Office held a press conference to present “Palestrina. Missa Papæ Marcelli – Motets”, the latest CD of the Pontifical Sistine Chapel Choir.  Reading the presentation of  Archbishop George Gänswein, prefect of the Papal Household, we wondered whether the sentiments expressed can be regarded as more than a mere marketing  statement for the new Deustche Grammophon product? Do they represent a change in attitude to music in the Church post-Vatican II, reflecting views such as those of Damian Thompson who in the Catholic Herald asked Can a great composer revive a tone-deaf Church? Continue reading

Hymns (and other things) to avoid?

The recent news that the Diocese of Chichester had settled a historic sexual abuse claim involving George Bell, bishop from 1929 until his death in October 1958, raises interesting questions about such matters as commemorating in the C of E Calendar someone who appears to have been a child abuser.

In this guest post, Michael Ainsworth muses on some of them…

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The Diocese of Chichester’s settlement to an unnamed child abuse victim, over 60 years ago, of Bishop George Bell raises the question not only of whether he should retain his place in the Anglican calendar on 3 October – which the Church of England Liturgical Commission has ‘parked’ for future consideration, meanwhile pointing out that this is an optional commemoration which no-one is obliged to keep – but more immediately, whether we should sing his hymn Christ is the King! O friends, rejoice, which many churches will have chosen for Christ the King Sunday as well as for other occasions. The hymn is fine, and much-loved – as was George Bell himself, until (and even now perhaps despite) these revelations: politically he was progressive and courageous, probably forfeiting promotion to Canterbury because of his principled pacifist stance. Peter Hitchens (who has his own agenda) notes in “Shameful slur on a Christian hero” [scroll down] that because no allegations were made until 37 years after Bell’s death no trial was possible or details made public; and while he has no doubt that the C of E has a lot of apologising to do, queries whether George Bell’s reputation is being too readily sacrificed to save the skin of the Church of England today. Continue reading