27 August 2007

A Festival with a Difference

Greenbelt is not for people like us. It is an Evangelical Rock and Worship Festival.

However, a text from a colleague who is attending has alerted me to something that might make any of us stop and take notice. This year, there is a beer tent, in which people (well, men) spend their time drinking beer and bellowing out hymns. And guess what: all the hymns they bellow out are traditional ones. The text doesn't say whether there is a tape to sing along to, or whether there are hymn books, or whether the drinkers are just blessed with fine memories. The fact that the texter is into the folk scene in a big way suggests to me that this is people singing what they know and what works when people sing, which means traditional tunes which everybody knows.

This (I texted back) is very Catholic. Pre-Reformation, the Parish Ale would have been brewed every time there was a feast day. Post-Reformation, the connection between drinking and celebrating God's Glory is still there, though much stronger among Catholic Christians than elsewhere.

I also suggested that, on being furnished with proof that this is as good as it sounds, I might, just might, be tempted along to a tent evening next year.


David Palmer said...

I went to Greenbelt last year, and it was the first year they had beer and hymns, and it was as good as it sounds!

It is worth pointing out that Greenbelt has provided a Catholic Mass over the last few years for the Catholics attending, indeed last year there where two Masses. I couldn't make it this year, but hope to next year... perhaps we should try and encourage Catholics to go on "mass" (pun intended) and we could all meet up sometime over the weekend...

Clare said...

I bet they don't provide a Mass in the "extraordinary form"!

John said...

Tell you what Ttony, if I ever get back to Blighty, I would be very happy to join in with you and several others, in just such a Beer and Hymn festival.
I like beer and I love the old, faithful hymns. They have really GOOD tunes written by those who know what a good tune is and what a congregation can sing.


James Stewart said...

Greenbelt's definitely not an 'evangelical' festival. It is primarily protestant and the evangelical protestant churches are well represented, but it is deliberately a 'broad church' event and as pointed out above there have been Catholic Masses for several years, a few different monastic orders have had a presence, and this year there was a strong cafod presence.

(plus we've had a pub on site since 1999 and the beer tent for three years)

WhiteStoneNameSeeker said...

Okay I'll meet you'll at The Jesus Arms for a pint of Absolution Ale next year.

The children did a good musical/play about the abolision of slavery-pretty impressive after only two days rehersal.

I have huge dounts about Greenbelt-too much leftist politics and not enough Christ-but you can't beet the Tiny Tea Tent and this year we had Shaun the Sheep.

Ttony said...

Not yet convinced, I am also not averse to the idea of at least an evening out!

Beer and hymns just seems such a wonderful idea. I thought immediately of the Inn ant the End of the World.

Alec said...

For beer and hymns you can't beat the South Yorkshire carol tradition. It happens in about half a dozen pubs, but the one I go to is the Royal Hotel near Stannington. Every Sunday, from the one after Remembrance Sunday until the last Sunday of Advent, the place will be packed with men and women drinking excellent beer and roaring out the traditional carols. There are thirteen different tunes for "While Shepherds Watched", and we sing "All Hail The Power", and "Behold the Grace Appears" and "Remember the Time When Our Saviour Was Born" - all in parts, with fabulous bass lines.

You have to get there early; there's usually a queue outside waiting for opening time, and getting to the bar (or even out of your seat, if you're lucky enough to get one) is a major operation.

This is not Catholic in any sense; if you want to know about its origins, read "Under the Greenwood Tree" by Thomas Hardy. And most of the participants (I would guess) never see the inside of a church. But it's a sane, vigorous and healthy expression of human nature!