This Saturday, 17 September, will bring the official inauguration of the Blessed John Henry Newman Institute of Liturgical Music in Birmingham, England. My friend Msgr. Andrew Wadsworth wrote me saying that this is “probably the most significant enterprise in liturgical music in the UK since the Council.”
17 September will be the 1st anniversary of the beatification of Bl. John Henry, founder of the modern Oratory in Birmingham.
I can’t help but think that my old mentor, Msgr. Richard Schuler, who fought the good fight all those decades would be delighted at the creation of a new institute with this objective.
I have perused the inaugural address, which is embargoed for the time being… obviously. There is a fine vision underlying this project.
Remember: Music is not an “add on” in the liturgy. True sacred liturgical music, which must be art and sacred, is liturgy. Music should be what the Second Vatican Council calls an “integrating part” of liturgical worship, and not something tacked on for the sake of a false notion of “active participation”… usually resulting in a collective drop in the IQ of everyone in the building. I incessantly talk about a “Marshall Plan” to rebuild our Catholic identity. I relentlessly claim that a renewal of liturgical worship is the point of the spear in such an endeavor, a sine qua non for progress. Sacred liturgical music must be addressed. This new Institute is setting out to do that.
I ask St. Philip Neri, one of my personal patrons, and Bl. John Henry to intercede with the Father, amidst the music and choirs of heaven, to bless this initiative.
I hope that on a future trip across the way, I can visit the place and see what they are up to.