The Standing Commission on Liturgy and Music has published the liturgical [PDF] and theological [PDF] principles that will guide its work on rites for blessing same-sex couples. The commission has asked for responses to the guidelines on its weblog.

The theological principles refer 14 times to the biblical concept of making a covenant. The SCLM offers most of the details about this concept in a bullet-point section called “Renewing the Church’s Theological Reflection”:

  • Vocation: People are called into long-term committed relationships, as a vocation;
  • Covenant-making: Loving faithfulness can participate in and reflect God’s own covenantal commitment to God’s creation;
  • Households: Covenants create households as “schools of virtue” for life-long formation in spiritual discipline nurtured by divine grace;
  • Fruitfulness: Faithful love in relationship enables the offering of countless gifts to the wider community that would not be possible in the same way apart from that relationship, including: lives of service, compassion, generosity, and hospitality;
  • Mutual Blessing: The liturgical blessing of a covenantal relationship acknowledges the fruits of the Spirit in that relationship and in turn becomes a blessing to the faith community, strengthening the community for its mission and ministry in the world.

Another bullet-point list, in the liturgical principles, identifies what SCLM members consider the qualities of a “classically Anglican liturgical ethos and style”:

  • It resonates with Scripture.
  • It has high literary value; [it is] beautiful according to accepted and respected standards.
  • It uses the recurring structures, linguistic patterns, and metaphors of the 1979 [Book of Common Prayer].
  • It is formal, not casual, conversational, or colloquial.
  • It has a ritual or sacral register.
  • It is dense enough to “carry the freight” of the sacred purpose for which it is intended.
  • It is metaphoric without being obtuse.
  • It is performative.

The principles continue: “The rites should give expression to the Church’s understanding that the couple is freely assuming a vocation, which can be expected to yield the fruits of mutual fidelity for the couple, itself, for the Church, and for the entire world, pointing ultimately toward the fulfillment of all human relationships and unity in the eschatological Reign of God, when God will be all-in-all.

“They must be what they purport to be — liturgical prayer — not didactic or polemical statements in the guise of liturgy.”

The SCLM also is conducting a survey through Jan. 31 about a possible revision of the 1982 Hymnal. The survey, which takes about 20 minutes to complete, is available for members of Episcopal congregations, for music directors, and for clergy. It asks participants about whether they use the 1982 hymnal, its predecessor from 1940, multiple supplemental books (such as Lift Every Voice and Sing II, Voices Found, and Wonder, Love, and Praise) or custom forms (leaflets, overhead projection).

The survey also asks what music participants find feeds them spiritually, and what music they enjoy listening to or singing outside of worship services.