Irish Society of St. Cecilia

Author: K. A. Daly


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 Although inaugurated as the voice of the young Irish Society of St. Cecilia, importance as an historical document should not be underestimated.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."[1] 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. Cecilia.

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 .[2]

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).[3] 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."[4] 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 and 1880.

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 Ireland.

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.[5] 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.[6]

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."[7]

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.[8] 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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11] 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 separate parts.

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.[12].

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 bulletin.

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 actually had.

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.[13]

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 bulletin.

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."[14] 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.[15] 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.[16]

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 considerations.

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.[17]

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 bulletin.

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. Butterfield.[18]

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 inexhaustible wealth.


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 p. 7.

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, p. 101-102.

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 Appendix.

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.


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.