English Cathedral Music and Liturgy in the Twentieth Century  book cover
1st Edition

English Cathedral Music and Liturgy in the Twentieth Century

ISBN 9781138053120
Published March 29, 2017 by Routledge
284 Pages

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Book Description

This book examines the stylistic development of English cathedral music during a period of liturgical upheaval, looking at the attitudes of cathedral clergy, liturgists, composers, leading church music figures and organisations to music and liturgy. Arguments that were advanced for retaining an archaic style in cathedral music are considered, including the linking of musical style with liturgical language, the recommending of a subservient role for music in the liturgy, and the development of a language of fittingness to describe church music. The roles of the RSCM and other influential bodies are explored. Martin Thomas draws on many sources: the libraries and archives of English cathedrals; contemporary press coverage and the records of church music bodies; publishing practices; secondary literature; and the music itself. Concluding that an arresting of development in English cathedral music has prevented appropriate influences from secular music being felt, Thomas contrasts this with how cathedrals have often successfully and dynamically engaged with the world of the visual arts, particularly in painting and sculpture. Presenting implications for all denominations and for patronage of the arts by churches, and the place of musical aesthetics in the planning of liturgy, this book offers an important resource for music, theology, liturgy students and ministry teams worldwide.



The Revd Dr Martin Thomas is a former Canon Precentor of St Edmundsbury Cathedral and a Church of England parish priest and academic. He holds first class degrees in Music (Edinburgh) and Theology (Oxford) and completed his PhD thesis at UEA. He has contributed many articles to scholarly and popular journals including Anglican and Episcopal History; The Church of England Newspaper; In Illo Tempore; Cathedral Music; and Art and Christian Enquiry. He also provided the ’Music’ chapter for a recent history of Wymondham Abbey and edited Five Ways of the Cross.


'Martin Thomas's new publication deals with a period of recent musical and liturgical reform. He applies a critical eye to the contributions of a great many living figures, and we can expect that forceful opinions will produce strong reactions. In circles where musical orthodoxy rubs shoulders with well-worn historic repertoire, this welcome study calls for high quality new music, written in a higher service.' Philip Wilby, University of Leeds, UK 'This very fascinating and brilliant study, the first of its kind in this field, is too important to be ignored. It will definitely engender controversy. It is entirely relevant to present-day church musicians and their concerns for musical enhancement of worship. Dr. Thomas has amply supported his interesting thesis and given us an exhaustive study from which musicians of all denominations will profit.' The Diapason