It would seem that over the four or so years as Dean of St Andrew's Cathedral, Dean Jensen has marginalised the role of the choir so dramatically that the working conditions for Michael Deasey, the last choirmaster were made so impossible that he eventually had to leave his post. It would seem that this strategy seems to be an ideological battle more than anything in which Dean Jensen wishes to purge St Andrews Cathedral of any "high church" elements. Notably, Dean Jensen suggested that the chorus "Miserere" by Allegri represented "an alternative gospel that we must never get tired of opposing". So what exactly is this evil, unchristian music that Dean Jensen is talking about. Listen below, if you dare:
I don't know about you, but I can't see where Dean Jensen is coming from when he suggests that this chorus represents an "alternative gospel", but I think that Peter Phillips provides some degree of insight into the underlying rationale behind the attack on choral music:
I mean the Ayatollah Khomeni once said that music was an evil which distracted people from more serious things and should be defeated at all costs. It seems to me very similar to that; that was an Islamic fundamentalism, but there's very little difference.
Listening to "Miserere", I could not help but be moved and inspired in a way that words could not express. Perhaps this is the point. When one is provoked to feel things, one can express things independently. When one cannot express things independently, one must simply rely upon reciting the legalistic code that they have been fed. It reminds me of George Orwell's "Nineteen Eighty-Four", in which language and culture was restricted for the express purpose of making people incapable of expressing themselves, and thus incapable of expressing the dissent that might give rise to a revolution. In the same way in the Sydney Diocese, these amazing choruses have given way to the drudgery of Christian pop music, with lyrics repeated so often that the parishioner cannot help but be brainwashed by its message. Likewise, discourse has been curtailed so heavily that those who express an alternate understanding of the Scriptures are branded as unorthodox or heretical.
It is only over the last few weeks that the full extent of what is occuring in the Sydney Diocese has dawned upon me. We are currently seeing a systematic stripping away of all resources which will enable the parishioners within the Sydney Diocese to independently assess the teachings of the Jensens and actually read the Bible for themselves. I am really starting to feel like a lonely figure in exile - the fool standing on the hill. Is it too late, or is there still time for music to sow the seeds of revolution?