Ad Fontes

Politics, Theology and Christian Humanism

A Love Supreme: Ba-dum, ba-dim

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Saint John the Divine Sound Baptist

Saint John the Divine Sound Baptist

I’ve never been to San Francisco, but I already love two of the city’s churches. One of these is St John Will-I-AM Coltrane African Orthodox Church. I love A Love Supreme. It is the prayer of a troubled spirit through a musical genius.

The sound praise consists of the Coltrane Liturgy, which combines the Divine Liturgy of the African Orthodox Church, and the Twenty-third Psalm, with the melodies, harmonies and rhythms of Saint John Coltrane’s masterpiece: A Love Supreme.

The African Orthodox Church was founded in 1921 by Alexander McGuire, a Black Episcopalian rector who felt the need to found a Black Episcopalian church to escape the racism he encountered in the Episcopal Church. He received episcopal consecration at the hands of Joseph René Vilatte, a rather interesting character who had received his consecration in Sri Lanka from Syriac Orthodox bishops.

The Church of Saint John Will-I-AM Coltrane was founded in 1971 by Franzo King, who was consecrated in 1982. Archbishop Franzo and his wife Mother Marina had heard Trane play in 1965 and were deeply moved by the spirituality of that experience.

Author: Gareth Hughes

A priest of the Church of England, who is Chaplain of Hertford College, Oxford, and doing Syriac research at Oxford University.

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