Canon Precentor Jeremy Davies

When I knocked on the door of the house attached to St Matthew's Church in Westminster to see Canon Precentor Jeremy Davies, Father Peter opened the door! Upon hearing I had a meeting with Jeremy Davies, Father Peter showed me up to what is clearly his family's lovely sitting room and invited me to wait. The dog was frisking and people were running around - it clearly is Grand Central for the Church by its side.

Jeremy Davies is the Canon Precentor of Salisbury Cathedral and is responsible for the music and worship at the Cathedral. He is a deeply thoughtful man who makes every effort to speak from his heart and is guided and driven by his profound Christian beliefs. As a gay Anglican priest he has struggled with the concepts of virtue and goodness in a Christian context and has come to an understanding that virtue is more than doing good deeds, although eventually it does come to be goodness. Virtue, for him, is the set of actions we take and attitudes we adopt when we strive for perfection, as God asks us to do. As such, it is both a deeply spiritual concept and a set of practical actions that benefit others and serve God. Jeremy has struggled with this for a long time and has come to be comfortable with his understanding of it because he is open to the grace of the virtuous "Other" which holds, supports, loves and guides him for who he is. When behaving in a virtuous way, or seeing virtuous behaviour, Jeremy feels his humanity is being affirmed. He feels alive and loved. He feels joy.

He is quick to add that virtuous behaviour is practised all the time by people with no sense of the "other". You don't need to be a Christian to be a good, virtuous person (in fact it can be quite limiting). This is because a shared understanding of virtuous behaviour has become embedded in our culture and as such is well understood and recognised by most people. If you are in a society/community with a clear structure and shared behavioural norms, there is a general expectation of how to behave - you don't have to think about it because it just is. Currently, however, he senses that there is a yearning "out there." People are becoming intrigued by altruism and they are looking for heroes. However, he sees there is also a great deal of fear and insecurity that lead people to hide their vulnerabilities, stop learning, and ultimately may lead to their corruption and their corrupting of others.

People in institutions (schools, churches, companies, families...) must play a role to guide and support members, setting expecations and role modelling behaviours through the example of their own flawed selves. Virtue is "caught as much as taught".

4 Responses to “Canon Precentor Jeremy Davies”

  1. Caroline Astell-Burt

    15. Dec, 2015

    Hi there, I am trying to contact Canon Precentor Jeremy Davies. I am an old friend, puppeteer and theatre designer. I also make bread and am a Christian.

  2. virtuousbread

    15. Dec, 2015

    Dear Ms Astell-Burt

    I wish I could helps you especially as I am sure he would, just right now, love to hear from an old friend. I don't know how to get hold of Jeremy. I suggest (really!) contacting Winchester cathedral - by post with a letter to him. They would be duty bound to forward it. I wish I could help more. Jane

  3. Reg Parry

    18. Feb, 2018

    I listened to the Bbc`s Sunday service this morning and found it helpful in my preparation for morning service at Bolton Methodist Mission where I am a member. the prayers particularly inspiring. Thank you (might it be possible to receive copy of the prayers?) if so Thanks again. with every rich blessing in Jesus` name, Reg

  4. webmaster

    19. Feb, 2018

    Dear Reg

    Alas, I am not an official spokes person for Jeremy - I am just an author with whom he was kind enough to speak when I was researching the nature of virtue. It was so long ago, I am not sure I know how to get hold of him. Possible via the BBC's Sunday Service site? Thank you for reading my website. It was wonderful to interview him for it.

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