ABSTRACT

The rise of Ultramontanism was one of the most significant aspects of Catholic church music in nineteenth-century Catholic England. This was especially true with plainchant. The reasons for this phenomenon are not hard to identify. Plainchant was a reminder of the glory days of a Medieval Catholic church dominated by a powerful Papacy. This fitted in with the Victorian Romantic interest in things Medieval. Simultaneously the sixteenth-century reforms associated it with the Rome of the Counter-Reformation. Plainchant could therefore be a vehicle for the Ultramontane promotion of uniform ‘Roman’ ways of doing things in Catholic England. Moreover, in campaigns against secular musical influences plainchant offered an alternative style that was specifically religious and, once again, something that appealed to Romantics horrified by the spectacle of rampant urban industrialisation. However, as shall be seen, for this to be fully effective, the nature of plainchant had to be modified.