Roman Catholic Church Music in England, 1791–1914: A Handmaid of the Liturgy?
Roman Catholic church music in England served the needs of a vigorous, vibrant and multi-faceted community that grew from about 70,000 to 1.7 million people during the long nineteenth century. Contemporary literature of all kinds abounds, along with numerous collections of sheet music, some running to hundreds, occasionally even thousands, of separate pieces, many of which have since been forgotten. Apart from compositions in the latest Classical Viennese styles and their successors, much of the music performed constituted a revival or imitation of older musical genres, especially plainchant and Renaissance Polyphony. Furthermore, many pieces that had originally been intended to be performed by professional musicians for the benefit of privileged royal, aristocratic or high ecclesiastical elites were repackaged for rendition by amateurs before largely working or lower middle class congregations, many of them Irish. However, outside Catholic circles, little attention has been paid to this subject. Consequently, the achievements and widespread popularity of many composers (such as Joseph Egbert Turner, Henry George Nixon or John Richardson) within the English Catholic community have passed largely unnoticed. Worse still, much of the evidence is rapidly disappearing, partly because it no longer seems relevant to the needs of the modern Catholic Church in England. This book provides a framework of the main aspects of Catholic church music in this period, showing how and why it developed in the way it did. Dr Muir sets the music in its historical, liturgical and legal context, pointing to the ways in which the music itself can be used as evidence to throw light on the changing character of English Catholicism. As a result the book will appeal not only to scholars and students working in the field, but also to church musicians, liturgists, historians, ecclesiastics and other interested Catholic and non-Catholic parties.
Thomas Muir read History at Oxford and taught History and Politics at Stonyhurst College, for whom he wrote the definitive history Stonyhurst College 1593-1993, now in its second edition. Between 1997-2005 he read Music at the universities of York and Durham. His doctoral thesis 'Full in the Panting Heart of Rome', Roman Catholic Church Music In England 1850-1962 broke new ground in the use of database technology for the large-scale analysis of performance repertoire, providing much of the basic research material on which this book is based. The author of numerous historical and musicological articles, he is an experienced composer, his latest project being the composition of a large cycle of chamber music inspired by the legend of the Green Man.
’...a good account of the changes in Catholic liturgy and the musical adaptations made to accommodate these ...it will be of interest to many church musicians, including from other denominations.’ Church Music Quarterly ’Thomas Muir has done English musical history a great service by his detailed study... Muir's discussion of the musical issues of plainchant style, and the politics associated with the various parties is illuminating. ... Muir has made a major and very welcome contribution to the process of restoring some balance to the history of religious music in England in the nineteenth century.’ British Institute of Organ Studies Journal ’... this study is packed with interesting facts and figures and is to be welcomed for shedding more light on what has been a badly neglected area in both Roman Catholic and wider liturgical history.’ Recusant History ’The book is fully indexed and there is a detailed bibliography, together with a list of Internet sources. The specialist, organist or choirmaster, will find much interesting, and indeed intriguing, information on the origin and development of our church music and a general reader, diving into the book at certain sections, will find many aspects of Catholic history illustrated by the church music. Dr. Muir is to be congratulated and thanked for providing this throrough, yet accessible, account of the hymns and masses with which we are familiar, but which we all too easily take for granted.’ The Stonyhurst Magazine ’... the book’s importance lies in its historical treatment of the Church’s struggle to establish a satisfactory English musical tradition ... [and] should be used as a richly detailed source of information about the practice of music in English Catholicism, and about the many and varied ideologies, institutions, and personalities that contributed to its unique development.’ Music and Letters ’This is a groundbreaking book ... an essential read for anyone interested in th