IRISH SOCIETY OF ST. CECILIA
by K. A. Daly
During the 19th century, a movement for the reform of Roman Catholic
church music was initiated by the Bavarian priest, Franz Xavier Witt. He
saw the need for a practical approach to the reintegration of music with
the sacred liturgy and founded the Allgemeinen Caecilien-Vereins (A.C.V.)
in the late 1860's. Based initially in the German cathedral town of
Regensburg, Witt's Society of St. Cecilia soon spread to other countries.
In 1878, Fr. Nicholas Donnelly founded the Irish Society of St. Cecilia
and published both his own and Witt's reform ideas through the medium of
the society's church music periodical, . Donnelly
edited the bulletin for over five years before he laid down his editorial
pen in favor of the Cork organist, Joseph Seymour. For the final phase of
its existence, the bulletin returned to clerical editorship in the person
of Fr. Heinrich Bewerunge, who shortly before, had been appointed as the
first professor of sacred music at Maynooth. Although inaugurated as the
voice of the young Irish Society of St. Cecilia,
importance as an historical document should not be underestimated. Its
pages capture the flavor of Dublin life at the end of the 19th century, in
a time of political and religious expansion.
During the nineteenth century, a number of groups of musicians organized
themselves in response to an increasing awareness of the inappropriateness
of the music performed during Roman Catholic church services. Composed for
the main part of trained organists and choirmasters from the clergy and
laity, these societies aimed to improve the music by their work in two
distinct areas. They strove to educate musicians and the ordinary clergy
in the laws of the Church relating to the use of music at sacred
functions. They also tried to provide liturgical music that was acceptable
to the Church and the musician. In addition, the rediscovery of Palestrina
by these nineteenth century reformers revived ecclesiastical interest in a
style of Catholic church music that seemed, at least to these reformers,
accessible to all and apt for liturgical use.
Among the aspects of Palestrina's style that most appealed to the leaders
of the reform was the importance placed upon the sacred text. The special
character of the was noted, with its concentration
on clear text declamation and avoidance of any polyphonic elaboration that
would interfere with it. Furthermore, Palestrina's delicate use of
dissonance and his avoidance of chromaticism was perfectly in tune with
the movement's aversion to accidentals and their equation of any hint of
chromatic line with external romantic expression and sensuality.
Palestrina's word painting, especially evident in his motets, the strong
feeling for harmony and his sensitivity to tonality, the use of plainsong
in his works, his vocal orchestrations and, in particular, the perfect
balance in all things, were the ideals to which the reformers aspired. It
was, however, the restrictions inherent in these very ideals that finally
alienated composers like Bruckner and Liszt, and sowed the seeds of
conflict within the reform itself.
The nineteenth century reform was essentially a culmination of the work
begun following the publication of Pope Benedict's 1749 encyclical. In the
forefront of the composers who produced more functional examples of sacred
music (sometimes called "true" church music) during the second half of the
eighteenth century was Michael Haydn (1737-1806). A brother of Joseph,
Michael Haydn's church music studiously avoided the entertainment aspect
and concentrated on being fitting to the function for which it was
written. His use of Gregorian chant melodies made him of particular
interest to later reformers. One must remember that this "expressive
deepening" was the antithesis of the 18th century's efforts to achieve
"expressiveness" through symphonic church music. Whether composed in the
instrumental style favored in Germany, or the Italian oriented
style, these symphonic compositions followed purely musical principles of
creativity and disregarded liturgical principles. This resulted in an
estrangement from the liturgy and a severance of this type of music from
its liturgical foundation. (An example of this type of composition was the
so-called Mass, whose movements took so long to perform
that the priest at the altar had to say the Mass independently of the
sacred concert in the organ gallery.)
By the turn of the century, the combined work of various composers,
theorists and theologians had converged in laying the foundations for a
new conception of church music. Their efforts to integrate music
completely into the liturgical services, gradually spread across Europe
and instigated the creation of an organized movement for reform. Directed
by a change of attitude towards religion at the beginning of the
nineteenth century (a reaction against the Enlightenment), composers
turned scholars and embraced historical forms, in contrast with the
contemporary concepts evident in the nineteenth century's church music.
They launched investigations into sixteenth century music, searching for
the ideal standard by which to measure "true ecclesiastical music."
"Palestrina became an idol. . . In the Masses, psalms and motets of the
sixteenth century, people saw the purist embodiment of an ideal church
music, unearthly, freed from all passion, seraphic." The re-evaluation
of polyphony was most fundamental in Germany, from where the reform got
its greatest practical impetus.
Even outside of the German-speaking areas, the novelty of the society's
ideas generally prompted immediate reaction, with the emerging societies
regarding the German one as a leader or "mother" society. The movement was
most successful in America, where Cecilian societies were founded in a
number of localities, including Newport, Rhode Island, and New York. The
society which had the most impact on church music in the United States was
organized in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, through the efforts of John Martin
Henni (1805-1881), first Archbishop of Milwaukee, Rev. Joseph Salzmann
(1819-1874), first rector of St. Francis Seminary, and John Baptist
Singenberger (1848-1924), first president of the Milwaukee Society of St.
In August 1882, Singenberger's (1882-1884) summarized the history
of the reform movement and urged the bishops of America to recommend the
reform to clergy and laity alike:
The German Catholics of America were the first to follow the example of
the old country in 1873, and Cardinal McClosky, six archbishops and nearly
all the bishops of the United States have given us their approval and
blessing, and appointed a diocesan president. Ireland followed next in
1878 and the president of its St. Cecilia Society, the Rev. Nicholas
Donnelly, C.C. Cathedral, Dublin, is the editor of its organ, the and that precious manual indispensable to every functionary
or friend of liturgy, the .
The first issue of appeared on October 1st, 1878. The
subtitle, "Monthly Bulletin of the Irish Society of St. Cecilia and List
of Catholic Church Music," was followed by the exhortation, . The society's acclamation was translated as "sing wisely" in
1881: , . . : Sing to our God, Sing. Sing to our King. Sing wisely (Psalm
XLVI). The pages were slightly smaller than the modern standard size
(210+ 297 mm), measuring approx. 180 + 260 mm.
The first series of the bulletin was printed in Dublin by M.H. Gill and
Son and was initially a publication consisting of four pages, printed on
both sides and in two columns. Each issue was wrapped in a green cover
which carried occasional advertisements. From early 1879, carried,
on its first page, a number of society notices regarding issue price,
approvals and central council members. The notice regarding the price of
the bulletin was carried regularly each month: "Annual Subscription . . .
Five Shillings. Single Copy to non-members . . . sixpence."
A banner notice explained that the society had been initiated "for the
promotion and cultivation of true liturgical music. Established November
21st, 1878." Beginning with Most Rev. Dr. McGettigan, Archbishop of Armagh
and Primate of Ireland, and ending with Most Rev. Dr. McCabe, VicCap of
the Diocese of Dublin, then listed the Irish bishops who had given
the society "sanction and approval." The number of bishops who formally
approved the society, stabilized at 28 (August 1879), and the list was
printed each month until April, 1881. After the society's second general
meeting, the new notice proclaimed that the Society of St. Cecilia
operated "with the sanction and approval of the archbishops and bishops of
Ireland, and under the special patronage of His Holiness, Pope Leo XIII."
Other lists published by during the early months (none of which
reappeared after December 1879) were lists of life members, new members
and donations. The final first page regular notice appeared during 1879
Presidents and vice-presidents of diocesan societies are corresponding
members of central council. The is the official
bulletin of the society, and will henceforward comprise eight pages of
letterpress and four pages of music. It will be sent post free to members
every month. Diocesan and parochial societies will please take notice that
the columns of the Bulletin are open to them for the purpose of giving
notice of meetings and reports thereof. Post office orders to be made
payable (for the present) to Rev. N. Donnelly, Cathedral, Marlborough
Street. All other communications to be addressed to the Secretaries, Irish
Society of St. Cecilia, 75 Marlborough Street, Dublin.
After the second general meeting, this notice was replaced by a shorter
one informing readers that would be "forwarded to all subscribers
post-free every month" and that "all subscriptions should be forwarded to
M. H. Gill & Son, 50 Upper Sackville Street."
The composition of the rather sprawling first volume was somewhat
disorganized. As might be expected of a new publication, the layout and
categories of material varied. Substantial didactic articles, often taken
from sources outside the Irish Society of St. Cecilia, dominated the early
issues of and averaged at about two per issue overall, for Volume
I. Fr. Donnelly wrote the editorials in approximately one-third of the
first volume's issues but the category "Cecilian Intelligence" occurred in
all but issue No. 3. The more interesting of the editorials in Volume I,
from the point of view of the society's intentions, were the May 1879
("Work to be done") explanation of the importance of subsidiary societies
and the opening declaration of intent, "What is the Cecilian Society and
what does it propose?" The latter was begun in October 1878 and brought to
its conclusion the following month.
There were some fifteen reports of one sort or another throughout the
volume and over thirty assorted notices ranging in type from society
information, notices of general interest, death notices and notices of
approval, donations, and new members etc. It was through these notices,
reports and especially the "Cecilian Intelligence" column, that the ethos
of the new society shone. It was also mainly through this column that
readers were kept up to date with the ongoing work of the reform in
The "Cecilian Intelligence" column appeared in approximately eighty
per-cent of all the bulletins published during first five years
and was a mixed collection of short notices, reports, reviews and often
included programs of music heard at Irish Cecilian services. (Its title
was in keeping with the terminology of the day, viz. "Shipping
Intelligence," etc.) It chronicled in particular the activities of the
ordinary members of the society and gave the readers of the bulletin "up
to the minute" information of Irish Cecilian interest.
In Volume I, reported, in the main, on Cecilian meetings (in
Ireland, America and Germany), and on church services (in Ireland,
Belgium, America and France). In its first issue, the report of the annual
general meeting of the American Society of St. Cecilia in Detroit was
quite short but the following October, the 1879 meeting was reported in
much more detail. In fact, almost half of the October 1879 issue of the
bulletin dealt with reports of American activities with nearly three pages
on the general meeting and a further page on the choral work of the New
York-based Fr. Alfred Young.
Fr. Young first came to the attention of when it published a
one-and-a-half page report of the dedication of St. Patrick's Cathedral,
New York (May 25, 1879). Taking its information from a number of sources,
including the and the ,
explained how two choirs had been used at the service.
Two distinct choirs were secured for the occasion, one at the chancel
composed of a hundred men and boys from the Church of St. Paul, and
another of about a hundred mixed voices stationed in the organ gallery, at
the opposite end of the cathedral. The music during the ceremony of
dedication. . . was done by the choir of St. Paul's, under the
directorship of the Rev. Alfred Young, C.S.P.; the music of the Mass after
the introit. . . was entrusted to the mixed choir.
went on to contrast the "excellent performance" of Gregorian chant
by the chancel choir with the harmonized music of the mixed choir. After
almost two columns of praise for "the glorious music of Gregory," to which
the congregation listened "with bated breath," reported that the
performance was "beyond reproach, and gave absolute pleasure." The
reporter then turned his attention to the harmonized music of the Mass,
noting with dismay, the importance of naming the solo voices rather than
the choral intent.
The music sung during the Mass was Haydn's. In only one paper do we find
aught, and that but a word or two, in praise of it. We are told, though we
needed not the information, that "it was not remarkably devotional in
feeling". . . Another feature that failed to edify in the matter is that
whereas of the real sacred music of the day, we have the modest
announcements published beforehand that "it will be rendered by the choir
of the Church of St. Paul the Apostle;" with regard to the other portion,
we have tabulated a list of "soloists for the morning service" and
"soloists for the evening service." It is precisely what we meet with in
quarters nearer home.
In October 1879, carried the second report of Fr. Young's choir,
taken this time, from a "Protestant musical journal," with whose general
tenor Irish Cecilian reformers would have been much in sympathy. It
contrasted the "stupid, criminal, wasteful and causeless folly of the
administration of musical offices in most Protestant churches" with the
musical work done at the Catholic Church of St. Paul, "probably the only,
certainly the best, specimens of genuine church music, pure and undefiled,
in New York." The report condemned the spending of large amounts of money
on soloists and organs and tried to explain to its non-Catholic readers
the ecclesiastical effect of a lightly accompanied chant, sung by a choir
of men and boys.
The church of the Paulist Fathers sustains an antiphonal choir of seventy
boys and men, who sit at either end of the chancel and who perform the
Gregorian plain song with modern harmonies, sung from printed books with
the ancient staves of four lines of square notes. . . (The chant)
comprises separate music for every Sunday of the ecclesiastical year, and
this fact compels the choir boys to be readers of music and not mere ear
babblers, as are most of the Episcopal choirboys of our acquaintance. The
music is a forcible illustration of Richard Wagner's rule, whereby to test
the true ecclesiastical style, which he assures us must be, "without time,
rhythm and accent". . .(These musical boys) are quite different from your
sleepy, venal, stuckup, conceited, airish with their
elaborate toilets, ribbons, feathers, fans, flowers, smirks and simpers.
All of these but help to stop the ears by vulgarly attracting the eye."
During the 1878/79 period of its first volume reported on a number
of Irish services of which the most spectacular were the funeral and
"month's mind" of Cardinal Cullen. Favorable accounts were given of the
singing of the students of Holy Cross College, Clonliffe, and the chanting
of the Maynooth seminarians. Not all the reports during the period were of
a similarly positive nature, some called for a critical rejoinder. For
instance, reporting on the dedication of the Oblate Fathers' church at
Inchicore, Dublin, on the December 8, 1878, was critical of "a
style of musical ceremonial little suited to the house of sacrifice and
prayer." The reporter expressed surprise that, although notices of the
ceremony had announced "that many distinguished professionals and amateurs
were to give their assistance on the occasion," yet musically, the liturgy
had been left incomplete.
Inability to "get up" the whole Mass, or a desire to shorten the function,
or ignorance of one of the rules of sacred music as used at solemn high
Mass are the only explanations we can hit upon for the omission of
important portions of the liturgical music. The introit, gradual and
communion were altogether passed over and the decrees of the S.
Congregation notwithstanding, the music commenced with the .
Later in the service, the reporter noted "a much graver cause of
complaint," with the use of a "prelude to the played as a duet
by violin and 'cello. The writer felt that the piece was "out of place"
and far too long. Equally foreign was the style of the music with its
"rapid scale runs, elaborate mazes, and protracted shakes."
The consecration came, the elevation of the host was begun and ended and
yet the instruments alone were heard, till at length, at the elevation of
the chalice, the , a baritone solo, began. Properly, the
should have concluded before the elevation-it had not
before the elevation, whilst the abnormal length of the
prelude was manifestly at variance with the idea of the Church, which has
adopted instrumental music for the purpose of supporting the singing.
During the following year, 1880, tended to confine its reports to
services abroad, such as the special musical celebration in honor of "the
half-jubilee of the foundation of the choir in 1854," in St. Chad's
Cathedral, Birmingham, England. In 1881 however, the Irish society had its
festival to report and combined its February and March issues to
cover the event. It also provided a special title page for the
occasion. Except for reports on "Holy Week in Ratisbon" and "The Feast
of St. Cecilia in the Roman Catacombs," concentrated its readers'
attentions during the year 1881, on Irish matters, reporting for instance
on central council meetings, Dublin diocesan commission activities and the
report on the Cecilian festival at Thurles.
Most of the reports of Volume IV (1882) dealt with their subjects in some
depth and were therefore quite lengthy. A report of the sermon given by
Bishop Elder at the 1881 meeting of the American Cecilian Society in St.
Louis, Missouri, took up four and a half pages of print and was spread
over issues No. 40 and No. 41. In the same way, the report from Rome
during the year, chronicling the events surrounding the installation of
the new Irish archbishop, Rev. Dr. McCabe, and making observations on the
music performed, took up practically the whole of issue No. 44.
Finally, two of the last three issues of the bulletin for 1882 were
composed almost entirely of reports. Issue No. 49 (October) included
information on festivals at Malines, Birmingham, Utrecht and Munster and
concluded with part of a report on the congress at Arezzo (continued in
issue No. 50). The final report of the volume covered the third general
meeting of the Irish society and necessitated a twelve page bulletin.
With the second volume, the fledgling publication had settled down. Its
format of approach had standardized and although editorials still appeared
in less than half the issues, the number of articles increased to an
average of about three per month. While the lists of bishops still
appeared, no more lists of officers, subscribers or new members were
published. Gone, too, were the approvals and donations listings. This
format continued through the third and fourth volumes with slight
variations. In general, didactic articles became the mainstay of the
bulletin. This policy gradually began to change, particularly when in
1882, it became obvious that Nicholas Donnelly had a diminishing amount of
time to devote to the publication.
Editorials, during the period 1880 to 1882, alternated between an
undefined optimistic approach to the progress of the reform movement in
Ireland and a gradually awakening realization that the society was having
very little effect on practical music-making in Irish churches,
particularly in rural Ireland. "The present issue closes the second year
of our existence. . .we think we may fairly congratulate ourselves. . .on
decided success, even within the comparatively short period."
The third anniversary of the society's foundation was marked by an
editorial titled "Progress" and the following month (August), the editor
addressed himself to the question of "Rural Choirs." Both editorials
suggested an irritated disenchantment with the lack of Cecilian response
outside the capital city. Although the January 1882 editorial began the
new year by defining the society's "new resolutions," it soon became clear
that dissatisfaction with the society had infected its members. The
editorial of the June 1882 issue highlighted the new motto of the society,
"self-reliance," yet the December editorial mentioned a cheque from
Archbishop McCabe to take the society out of debt.
used other categories of material, alongside its notices, lists,
reports, editorials and articles, in its effort to disseminate its reform
information. The "White List" appeared in all but two issues of the first
volume, various reviews of publications in over half of its first fifteen
numbers and letters, other than of simple approval, were published in four
issues. An advertisement appeared inside the green cover for the first
time in issue No. 10 and reappeared continually until the end of the
year. After 1879, however, few letters were published, the "White List"
and reviews of "New Sacred Music" appeared irregularly and no more
advertisements were included with the text until after 1883.
"The List of Sacred Music Admitted to the Cecilian Catalogue" or the
"White List" as it came to be known, began to appear with the first issue
of . Published at the end of the issue under the title, "Monthly
List of Sacred Music," the editor introduced the list, printed in two
Today we present our members with our first list of sacred music. The post
of honor is naturally assigned to the plain chant liturgical books. With
regard to the figured compositions, we have made a selection which, we
trust, may meet some of the wants, both of junior and senior choirs.
The plainchant list was prefaced by the article from the decree of the
national synod of Maynooth (1875), which affirmed the Regensburg firm,
Pustet & Co., as the Church's official publisher of chant (Art. 73. Chap.
XIII. ). The second part of the list also had a preface.
In the arrangement of this list, we kept before us the rule of the German
Cecilian society for the admission of works into their catalogue. The rule
excluded under seven headings, compositions which: 1. serve only secular
purposes..; 2. . . assail plain chant; 3... mutilate the liturgical
words...; 4... (introduce) instruments of percussion. . .or . . .trumpets
and horns. . .; 5 . . . (contain) interludes between the verse lines. . .;
6. . .contain prolonged vocal or instrumental solos, airs and duets with
roulades, shakes, bravura cadences, etc.; 7. adaptations of operatic or
secular airs to sacred works; in short, all compositions which are not
written expressly for the words, in the sense and spirit of the Church and
in conformity with her laws.
Each piece on the list was reviewed, as a rule briefly, by the editor
himself or by some "distinguished" Irish Cecilian (e.g., T.H. MacDermott
or Alois Volkmer). Sometimes reviews were translated from continental
Cecilian periodicals or copied from other journals such as .
Included in this list were compositions for equal and mixed voices of
various parts (up to seven separate lines), and a perusal of the reviews
give the reader a good insight into the type and style of music Cecilians
aimed to introduce into the Catholic churches of Ireland. In September
1879, a list of suitable "compositions for the organ" was added. The
complete "White List," which was then in stock at M. H. Gill & Son, was
printed at the end of Volume I..
During 1880, additions to the Cecilian list were made under various
headings. From February to May 1880, Cecilian music was reviewed and
included in the list under the heading "New Music." During the summer,
began a new list, "as approved of" by the newly formed Dublin
Diocesan Commission for Ecclesiastical Music. During 1881 and 1882, music
was reviewed under a new heading, "New Publications," but only in three
issues of Volume III and four issues of Volume IV. Occasionally the title
"New Music" was revived but more often during these two years, no mention
was made of any form of list of approved music.
The year 1883 saw a number of changes in the bulletin of the Irish
Cecilian society, in which, during this period of transition, Joseph
Seymour assisted with the editing of . Editorials appeared in every
issue but one. The twofold message in the January issue dealt with local
and parochial societies of St. Cecilia and the most recent achievements of
the reform movement.
The February issue began with the defense of the Irish society under the
title, "Are we too German?" and the March editorial considered the use of
sacred music at the Irish College in Rome. In the June and in the
composite July/August issues, the future prospects for the society were
examined and the editor had some sombre thoughts on future in the
light of a declining membership. The final two editorials of the year
dealt with the special meeting of the society and returned to the fate of
The fifth volume of the periodical produced a greater variety of
information and took a less dogmatic approach to matters ecclesiastical
than had been taken previously. There was no mention in this volume of a
white list and sacred composition critiques only occurred in issues Nos.
52 and 57, under "New Publications" and "New Music", respectively. The
number of didactic and serial articles fell dramatically and death notices
were reserved for important personages only. Instead, editorials, notices
and reports covered a wider range of topics.
Not only were there the more usual reports on Cecilian meetings in
Belgium, America and Ireland but also included reports on the
golden jubilee of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul and the consecration
of Nicholas Donnelly as Bishop of Canea. A biography of Donnelly was
included in the report of his appointment to the episcopacy, as was the
usual review of the music performed during the ceremony. Towards the end
of the year, reported on a very different type of function in
memory of Mr. Thomas Fagan. Fagan had been vice-president of the Society
of St. Cecilia until his death in September 1883, and a memorial
performance was given in the Church of the Three Patrons in Rathgar, of
Haler's . The report of the performance was by the professor of
music at Dublin University (Trinity College), Sir Robert Stewart, and
carried detailed comments on musicians and singers, including the director
of the assembled forces, Joseph Smith. During the next ten years, Smith
would become well-known to the readers of .
The final report of 1883 concerned the recent conference of organists of
the Dublin diocese and carried a list of names of those present and the
resolutions proposed and adopted.
It was in the fifth volume that a sense of humor surfaced. The
"Miscellany" column offered anecdotes to readers and the final
three issues of the year introduced a letter quiz on Gregorian chant!
However it was the overall sense of practicality that distinguished this
volume from the first four and which was underlined in the stringent
attitude of the society's central council to matters of finance. The
editorial of the June volume had thrown down a challenge to members and
the result was that for the remainder of the year, the bulletin was
published bimonthly (though with double music supplements).
had published its first music supplement in January 1879.
"Commencing with the January number, the will
henceforth contain a music supplement of four pages in addition to the
eight pages of letterpress." For its first series of supplements (January
1879-December 1881), reprinted the supplement to the Regensburg
journal, . The choice of music for the first three years was
therefore beyond the control of the Irish Society of St. Cecilia and not
unexpectedly, the supplements were dominated by German Cecilian
compositions for four-part mixed voice choirs. F. X. Witt was, by far, the
composer most represented during this period. In 1879, his music provided
supplements for half of the year, (April to July and October to December).
The other six months' supplements were filled by the works of Kaspar Ett,
J.B. Tresch, C. Aiblinger, C. Jaspers, A. Wittberger and G. Frohlich. The
following year, the supplement fell into almost equal publication/
composer periods. Casciolini's took up the January to May
supplements, Witt's supplemented the
September to December bulletins and the remainder of the supplements
carried plainchant works. Witt's dominance of the first series culminated
with the 1881 supplements in which his music appeared with each issue of
from June to December inclusive.
The primary function of the music supplement was to provide Irish Cecilian
choirs with cheap and easily accessible copies of music suitable to the
various ecclesiastical functions. It was also important however that the
supplements would provide music which Irish choirs would find to their
taste and which would stimulate a fair standard of performance. It was
hoped that choirs without a Cecilian bias, would in turn, be motivated by
these performances and become involved with the Cecilian reform. It was
crucial for the society, therefore, to have a wider choice of music than
that offered by the Regensburg publisher, Fred. Pustet and Co. and to
negotiate as quickly as possible a printing contract with an Irish
publisher. Unfortunately, such a contract took three years to organize and
by the time the new series was presented to readers, the society
had already gained the reputation of having a stronger German bias than it
Irish compositions were not included in the first year of the new series
of music supplements (1882), but non-German composers were well
represented during 1883. The full list of the year's supplements shows how
the society tried, in this area, to move away from its German base.
Among the various notices printed by during the early years were
infrequent references to these supplements; either introducing the music
therein or explaining irregularities in their publication. Much more
regularly printed, were notices concerning unpaid subscriptions to the
Occasionally, material which categorized as a "notice" included
more information than one might expect. An example of such was the
notification of "An Important Decree" which began on page 42 of
issue No. 57 (Volume V) June 1883. The decree of the Sacred Congregation
of Rites concerned itself with the validity of Pustet's plainchant
publications and was reprinted in the bulletin in both Latin and English.
In his letter to the American publication, , R. F. Hayburn
refers to the historical importance of such notices, particularly in view
of the Vatican's subsequent attitude to Pustet's plainchant publications.
Referring to the 19th century American Cecilian publication Echo, he
wrote, "in addition, Echo contained some documents which were very
controversial, as for example the decree of the Congregation of Rites,
of April 10 and 26, 1883. This decree had been a
source of embarrassment and had been deleted from the republication of the
official decrees of the Congregation." Finally, in the area of
notices, may be included 's recording of lately deceased Cecilians
and Cecilian sympathizers.
Death notices were usually placed on the final or penultimate page of the
journal. The usual notice made a brief reference to the deceased's area of
work and/or date of death. Reference was made to the loss felt by the
society, by a parish or a personal loss was sometimes mentioned. The
following is a typical example: "Of your charity, pray for the repose of
the soul of Rev. Thomas Leahy, PP, Sandymount, a warm and generous
benefactor of our young society." This type of notice was reserved for
former members of the society, or for those associated in some way with
the reform of church music in Ireland.
The thirteen obituaries printed during the period encompassed composers,
scholars, musicians and officers of the Irish Cecilian society. The most
elaborate obituary was that of Cardinal Cullen, which occupied the front
page of the second issue of . Particular reference was made to the
cardinal's encouragement, "in word and work," to the Society of St.
Cecilia in their efforts to "reinstate the true music of the Church." Each
page of this November issue was edged in black as a sign of respect.
A particularly interesting obituary was that of Richard Wagner, in so far
as a claim was made on the prestige of the composer by the society. This
claim on the composer as a Cecilian rested on the basis of a number of
Wagner was not a church composer; but had he been so, he would have been a
Cecilian of the most thoroughgoing type. Strange as this may appear, it is
proved by some motets which he has left, amongst others, an arrangement of
Palestrina's , for double chorus. . .(although) a master of
orchestral coloring . . . he could not tolerate the orchestra in church
and has made the most unrelenting attack we have ever seen on the system
of highly colored orchestral Masses. . .(he) has frequently taken themes
from Gregorian chant for special parts of his compositions and has also
written in the church modes to obtain special solemn effects.
During its first five years of publication, included obituaries on
Chevalier J. Lemmens, ("we fear that his death will seriously embarrass
the progress of the church music school in Malines which he founded as
also the advance of the Belgian Cecilian society, in which he took such an
active interest"), Dr. J.B. Benz, (at one stage organist and choirmaster
at St. Chad's Cathedral, Birmingham), and Mr. Thomas Fagan.
Finally, although notices, reports and reviews were regular features of
the young , it was its various articles that formed the bulletin's
staple diet. The "single issue" category of article covered various
subjects of general Cecilian interest and sometimes these articles were
simply translations of material already carried by other Cecilian
publications. Occasionally, these articles were based on a review or
report and were often written in the form of a letter to the editor of the
also carried articles which were serialized over a number of
issues. The material in this category was invariably didactic, of foreign
origin and often excerpted from a published Cecilian source. Of the
articles in this category published by the bulletin during its first five
years, only five or six were from Irish sources.
As might be expected, practically all of the articles of Volumes I to V
postulated the Cecilian creed. They were unerringly uniform in their
condemnation of nonCecilian liturgical ceremonies and in their explanation
of the society's ideals. Often the single issue article was printed
without an acknowledgement of author: "The Organ during Lent" (March
1879); "Catholic Music Education in Ireland" (November 1879); "A Convent
Choir" (August 1881) are some examples. Sometimes a hint as to the
writer's identity was given: "A Day with the Ratisbon Choir" by "T.M."
(October 1880); "Vacation Rambles" by "N.D." (October 1881); "The Irish
College, Rome" by "Parisiensis" (March 1882).
As a general rule, occasional articles which were acknowledged were those
reprinted from another periodical. For instance, "Church Music in America"
(May 1879) was taken from the pages of the ,
and "A Bright Example" from the , Prague. Articles
taken from German language publications during these years, invariably
used the translations of either N. Donnelly or the English Cecilian H.S.
During the first five years, the bulk of 's pages had been devoted
to articles serialized over a number of issues. The articles' primary
purpose was to introduce readers to the function, performance and
universality of the liturgical music of the Church. The vast majority of
these articles were spread over only two or three numbers of the bulletin.
The longest of the bulletin's serialized articles ran for over two and a
half years. It first appeared in 's March 1880 issue (No. 18, Vol.
II) and concluded in September 1882 (No. 48, Vol. IV). This series of
prolonged extracts from A.F.J. Thibaut's ,
translated by W.H. Gladstone (London 1877), took large portions from most
of the chapters of Thibaut's book. The series was introduced to
readers by an extract from Gladstone's preface to the publication, the
sentiments of the which clearly expressed the Cecilian view of "True
Liturgical Music." Gladstone's preface began:
Anton Friedrich Justus Thibaut was first professor of jurisprudence at
Heidelberg, and author of several important treatises on Roman and modern
law, published between 1797 and 1818. The present essay appeared in 1825,
when the author was fifty-one years of age. His friend, Dr. Bahr, who,
after his death in 1840, edited the fourth edition, describes the book, on
its first appearance, as a voice crying in the wilderness, and summoning
men to a musical repentance. It denounced in no measured terms the musical
vices of the day, and held up as a pattern the great works of the early
composers, which posterity was not ashamed to ignore, and even to despise.
It condemned the folly of sacrificing time and talent in ephemeral
compositions, when so many immortal works only needed to be brought to
light and made known to be appreciated, and pointed in particular to the
Palestrina ages as the golden period of church music, and a mine of
1. A. Einstein. . p. 47.
2. R.E Hayburn. (Collegeville,
Minnesota 1979) p. 131.
3. LE. No. 29 & 30 (1st series) February & March 1881, Vol. III, p. 12.
Ten years later the motto was interpreted as "sing with understanding."
LE. No. 37 (3rd series) January 1891 Vol. XII p. 3.
4. Dr. McCabe, as new Archbishop of Dublin succeeding Paul Cullen, had his
name moved up to second on the list, after April 1879.
5. The meeting had been held during July 1879 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,
where, "the initiatory steps of forming the American St. Cecilia Society
were taken six years ago." LE. No. 13 (1st Series) October 1879, Vol. 11
6. LE. No. 11 (1St Series) August 1879 Vol. I, p. 90-92. The following
month, republished a letter from the American , in which
Fr. Young explained to the periodical's editor, "Professor Singenberger,
the distinguished promotor of the reform in America," how he organized his
choir. recommended the letter to "rectors of churches and directors
of choirs throughout Ireland, especially in our larger towns: to
investigate whether they may not with comparatively little trouble and
expense, effect the same gratifying results. . .which have crowned the
efforts of Fr. Young." LE. No. 12 (1st Series) September 1879 Vol. I,
7. LE. No. 13 (1st series) Oct. 1879 Vol. II, p. 3-4.
8. LE. No. 29 & 30 (1st Series) Feb. March 1881 Vol. III, p 9.
9. "We trust. .that its increase on this occasion to a double number will
be ample compensation for the absence of the usual monthly supplement:"
LE. No. 51 (1st Series) December 1882 Vol. IV, p. 89.
10. Fr. Donnelly's work on the bulletin was of a very high standard and
his proof reading allowed few errors in the final print. The few mistakes
that did survive are a testimony to his diligence; an out of sequence
paging on one occasion and the May 1880 issue, which should have been
numbered 20, being printed instead as No. 19.
11. The advertisement for the organ builder, John White of 27 York Street,
Dublin, concluded: "all latest improvements, combining simplicity of
mechanism, silent, easy action and durability-qualities seldom found in
organs generally. Two hundred are erected in various Catholic churches"
12. LE. No. 15 (1st series) December 1879 Vol. I, p. 23-24. 13. See
14. Vol. 114, No. 1 (1987) p. 23-4.
15. LE. No. 21 (1st series) June 1880 Vol. II, p. 48.
16. LE. No. 2 (1st series) November 1878 Vol. I, p. 9.
17. L.E. No. 54 (1st series) March 1883 Vol. V, p. 23.
18. For instance, the article, "The Reform of Church Music in Holland,"
was taken from the October number of Dr. Witt's and signed
"H.S.B." LE. No. 26 (1st series) November 1880 Vol. II, p. 83-84.
K. A. DALY
This article appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of "Sacred Music."
Published by the Church Music Association of America, 548 Lafond Avenue,
St. Paul, MN 55103.