ABSTRACT

Roman Catholic church music in nineteenth-century England is a neglected subject. This applies not just to Anglicans, represented by In Tune With Heaven; it extends to members of other Christian denominations, the world of musical scholarship and, indeed, to Catholics themselves. Why is this so? The reasons appear to be simple. In the first place, English Catholic music before the Second Vatican Council (or Vatican II) generally has a low reputation, both in terms of its aesthetic quality and in its standards of performance. In Tune with Heaven, for instance, states that:

Many Catholics agreed. ‘Why is church music so bad?’ is the title of one article in a collection of essays published by Richard Terry (1865-1938), Director of Music at Westminster Cathedral between 1901 and 1923.3 Elsewhere, in his book English Catholic Music, published in 1907, he declared that, ‘whatever may be the case in other countries, it is a certain fact that congregational singing is not cultivated in Catholic churches as it deserves to be’.4