Art, religion and spirituality have forever been entwined with one another. Music, drama, painting, sculpture and poetry have all been ways to explore the mysterious experience of what it means to be human and, more specifically, to express the mystery of life lived in relationship to God. And so it’s no surprise that the roots of drama are religious, that music and the visual arts have flourished within the Church and that poetry both abounds in Scripture and has been created by many of the Church’s people.
At Saint Paul’s the arts abound. Whether in the prayerful quality of our music, the use of poetry and fiction in preaching, the art in our worship spaces, the Umbrella Theater Arts group, musicians using our space for performances, or the number of artists who are active members here: we are formed here by the arts and are committed to nurturing them and those drawn to the creation and performance of art.
Anglican and Anglo-Catholic Sensibility and the Arts
Anglican and Anglo-Catholic spirituality are world-embracing and incarnational, meaning that they affirm the body and human experience as a pathway to God. Anglo-Catholic liturgies, therefore, are full of elements and actions that stimulate the senses: images, statues, incense, chanting, singing and listening to beautiful music, flowers, candles, living water, crusty bread and fragrant wine, the movement of the body in prayer through gestures that are meant to express the inexpressible.
Anglican and Anglo-Catholic heritage are full of men and women dedicated to the arts—poets George Herbert, John Donne, T. S. Eliot, Christina Rossetti, Lucy Shaw, translators and hymn writers John Mason Neale, Samuel Crossman, John and Charles Wesley, John Newton, and Timothy Dudley-Smith; writers C.S. Lewis, Madeleine L’Engle, and Charles Williams, priest Stewart Headlam who, contrary to Victorian norms, worked to connect dancers and actors of the day to the Church and its riches. All of these people are witnesses to the interweaving of the arts with the religious sensibility and the use of the arts to bear witness to God.
Artists-in-residence are a regular, seasonal component at St. Paul’s. Poets, photographers, musicians, painters, writers, and actors have all served as artists-in-residence at St. Paul’s. The artist typically performs or offers his or her art within the 5PM liturgy at a time when it too can be drawn on for the community’s reflection in the shared homily. The same artist will create an offering for those attending other services, either during Community Hour or as a stand-alone offering, depending on the medium. Artists-in-residence are often, but not always, St. Paul’s parishioners.
Music and the Arts
Music is one the most powerful ways through which the people at St. Paul’s experience God. Our traditional sacred music repertoire at our morning liturgies as well as the use of chant, silence, and full congregational singing all provide an opportunity to enter into music that reflects a reverence for and adoration of the God “in whom we live and move and have our being.” At our 5 PM liturgy we hear jazz, a different expression of the Spirit of God—improvisational and free and also observe the same silences and singing.
Art & Artists in the Parish
St. Paul’s is full of artists and its property full of art. Among us are filmmakers, poets, actors and actresses, screenplay writers, musicians and dancers, and throughout our space is art that is meant to stimulate the senses and connect us to God. Download a PDF of art around the church and property and take a self-guided tour: ArtAroundtheParish_PDF.