Bath Abbey upsets congregation members over worship style
Some of Bath Abbey's worshippers have been left disappointed after it was announced that the traditional Choral Matins service would be scrapped after more than 400 years.
Matins - also known as Morning Prayer - is one of the services in the Prayer Book used in the Church of England created by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer in 1549.
The abbey's rector Rev Prebendary Edward Mason said that the service would instead be replaced by a modern-language Sung Eucharist.
In a letter to parishioners, Rev Edward said: "Although we expect significant gain from making this change, we also recognise that there will be poignant loss for the regular Matins attenders. Indeed, for a few people this will be the end of an epoch of worship that has formed and sustained their faith.
"We recognise the sacrifice that this change will entail and are deeply grateful for their continued commitment to Christ in supporting this change for the good of the wider church.
"A church with a rich choral tradition like the Abbey is expected to be the flag-bearer of worship which is rooted, contemporary and visionary."
But Ann Taylor, who has attended Matins at Bath Abbey for more than 20 years, said that she felt that parishioners were not properly consulted about the decision.
She also claimed that members of the congregation were shocked by the announcement which came five years after they were consulted about the type of service they would prefer.
"That led to an assurance in 2012 that, because the overwhelming majority of the regular congregation of more than 100 people preferred Choral Matins from The Book of Common Prayer, the beautiful Prayer Book liturgy and music of Choral Matins would be retained," Taylor said.
A spokesperson from Bath Abbey told Premier that the decision had been made after seven years of consultation with the congregation who mostly have supported the decision to change the service.
The spokesperson added: "The Abbey sustains many hundreds of people in their Christian faith and is a significant place of prayer for tens of thousands. We welcome over half a million people through our doors every year.
"Changes to worship are made carefully and after long periods of consideration and prayer. However, it is our responsibility in this generation to continue the heritage of worship, hospitality and justice which have been hallmarks of the Abbey for a thousand years.
"Please continue to pray for our Church Council and all who lead and support worship at the Abbey. There is so much in our life together for which we thank God and we commit the coming years to him. He is the beginning and end of all our worship - to God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit be the glory."