Robin L. D. Rees
Weary And Ill At Ease


The preamble to the BBC radio quiz I’m Sorry, I Haven’t A Clue describes the programme as an antidote to panel games. The official Report of the Archbishops’ Commission on Church Music, In Tune With Heaven, was published only a few months ago, and some may consider Weary And Ill At Ease to be an antidote to official reports. This is not to say that there is anything wrong with official reports, as indeed there is nothing wrong with panel games. I hope that the two books, written from their different viewpoints and in their different styles, will be seen as complementing one another.

How did this book come about? For over 30 years I have been a regular churchgoer, usually, but not always, singing in the choir. On many occasions and in widely differing circumstances I have seen music cease to be a force for unity, and become instead an occasion for division with disastrous consequences for all concerned.

Many of my evangelical friends would argue that the root cause of such division is sin. In a sense, no doubt, they are right. However, as well as being a Christian by persuasion, I am a scientist by training, and for some time I have wondered whether a systematic study might not throw some much needed light on the matter. It seemed unlikely that anyone else would ever embark on such a study and, when it became clear that my employer, the University of Oxford, would allow me to work part-time, and that through a family legacy I could afford to do so, I grasped the opportunity with both hands. This book is based upon the work that I undertook for a PhD degree, awarded in 1991 by the University of Sheffield.

I have been fortunate in certain freedoms normally denied to authors of official reports. The opinions and conclusions here are entirely my own, though they have been reached after discussion with colleagues and friends. I have sometimes strayed beyond my stated brief, either because some piece of information is spread over many different publications, or because it is not published at all.

Finally, and I think this important, I have tried where possible to make the book entertaining. As jester Jack Point reminds us:
When they’re offered to the world in merry guise,
  Unpleasant truths are swallowed with a will
For he who’d make his fellow-creatures wise
  Should always gild the philosophic pill!

              W. S. Gilbert: The Yeomen Of The Guard

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© R L. D. Rees 1993, 2000