Does it taste good?

There has always been a problem defining good taste….no less within Church language and music. If you look at the preface to the Book of Common Prayer there is this enlightened statement ‘There was never anything by the wit of man so well devised or so sure established, which in continuance of time has not been corrupted’.

So even they knew that the striving for quality in all we do is ‘tainted’ (at least as defined by someone else). We can always criticise words or music, or when or how they are used. This is an argument which will never end. Fortunately, as humans, we all come with different attitudes and experiences so we cannot expect two people to have exactly the same ideas as to what is ‘good taste’.

Having come from a Methodist background, we were very constrained in the music we would use in the Church, and Latin would not have formed a part of that. ‘Choruses’ were restricted to Sunday School use. Anything else would have not been considered ‘suitable’. The use of the word ‘taste’ was rare. Hymns were of course based round great Methodists such as the Wesleys, and many other wonderful wordsmiths and musicians.

A move into the Episcopal tradition broadened my scope of experience and I was able to look at the liturgical framework and how Church musicians had produced a variety of wonderful music to fulfill the needs of the Liturgy. There was no feeling of good or bad ‘taste’, only an appreciation of quality.

Now, within a cathedral setting most Sundays, ‘eclectic’ is probably a good definition of the music and words we use….ancient to modern, complex to simple, profound to light-hearted, universal to parochial. Over-arching all this, however, is the feeling that the pieces chosen seem to be ‘right for me, for the occasion’.

So maybe, at least for me, this is the best definition I can find for taste…it works as a whole to add to an experience. What about you?

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