Daniel Simons is the Priest for Liturgy, Hospitality, and Pilgrimage at Trinity Church Wall Street in New York City. In January 2017 he assumes a new role as Director of Spiritual Formation at the Trinity Retreat Center in West Cornwall, Connecticut, while continuing to oversee Trinity’s pilgrimage program.
As a Priest at Trinity Church Wall Street, I am called to imagine and create liturgical spaces that welcome visitors who attend our historic parish. For many years, the 10 a.m. Service in St. Paul's Chapel was a place of experimentation and innovation, as we frequently offered hospitality to worshippers from other states or countries.
The global and religious diversity of our guests at St. Paul's posed unique challenges, especially because they typically comprised over half of the congregation. Many had no experience of Anglican worship. Planning liturgy in this context required us to abandon assumptions about who belonged and to create intentional spaces for community learning. You can read more about the service in an article published by the Anglican Theological Review.
Music That Makes Community’s method of teaching and singing music emerged as a solution to these challenges: we gathered and wrote music that could be taught in the moment, might be sung in a visitor’s native language, and was beautiful as simple unaccompanied melody or with added harmonies. The result was a tapestry of song that gave confidence to the regulars and included the visitors in a single community of participation. Our congregational singing seemed almost miraculous in its beauty, simplicity, and effectiveness.
This January, I begin a new role as Director of Spiritual Formation at the Trinity Retreat Center in West Cornwall, Connecticut. I look forward to working with the directors to create a place for faith formation, spiritual growth, and renewal. MMC’s leadership practices will be at the core of creating participatory song, with multiple leaders, in the environment of an ever-changing congregation.
Over and over I’ve experienced something expansively new emerging whenever and wherever we make music this way, yet it’s a style that is so old and common to every culture, which is why I trust it. It keeps becoming clearer that this practice is really not about music in the end; it’s about reimagining our relationships through song. I encourage you to give generously to Music That Makes Community's Fall Fundraising Campaign. This is something so big it just might change the world!