Friday, May 30, 2014

Newman Oratories and the Liturgical Life in England

I have experienced Mass at the London (Brompton) and the Oxford Oratories--I must get to Mass at the Birmingham Oratory: it's on my bucket list! This article, which I found while searching for something else, has some great details about "The Contribution of the Oratories to the Liturgical Life of England" and I commend it to your reading.

Among the interesting notes: Newman did not agree with A.W.N. Pugin that the Gothic was THE only style of architecture appropriate for Catholic churches. Indeed, Newman thought that the Classical style was more appropriate because of its "simplicity, purity, elegance, beauty, [and] brightness". Father Nicholls states that, "He believed that the most suitable model for a Catholic Church in England after the emancipation was not to be found in the Gothic revival, but in the great Churches of the Roman Baroque, where the Altar was close to the congregation, and easily visible; where the tabernacle was prominent and the Blessed Sacrament was the focus of attention throughout the building."

Father Nicholls also addresses the contributions two Oratorians made to liturgical music by Edward Caswall and Frederick Faber; classical music at the Birmingham Oratory (Newman favored the Viennese masters like Mozart, Haydn, Cherubini, Hummel, and Beethoven over plainchant and polyphony!); the subsequent development of plainchant and polyphony after Pope St. Pius X issued his Motu Proprio on liturgical music in 1903; the use of Latin in Oratory Masses; the traditions of celebrating High Mass and Sunday Vespers, and the practice of the celebrant facing the Altar during Mass.

Very enlightening. Read the rest here.


  1. Very cool. Informative (for a liturgy nerd like me).

  2. I enjoyed the article too, Jason, and would like to find more by this author!