Welcome to the music pages of the Church of Our Lady & the English Martyrs situated in the historic university city of Cambridge. Since the end of the 19th century the praises of God have resounded here, in the daily Prayer of the Church, the celebration of the sacraments, most especially the Mass – the Memorial of the Lord, the source and summit of our life. Music plays an important part in our liturgical celebrations as all who come here to worship in faith are invited to join their voices in the offering of the One, True, Sacrifice of praise ‘in the presence of the angels.’
Over the years a rich liturgical and musical tradition has been established – music playing a vital part it our liturgical celebrations. The musical treasury of the Church is preserved and cultivated here in the regular singing of Gregorian Chant, polyphony, as well as music from the classical and romantic periods, through to the best of the contemporary. What follows is a description of the work of our various choirs and instrumentalists, as well as a wide range of related activities such as recitals, concerts, recordings and broadcasts.
Music in the Sacred Liturgy
‘The musical tradition of the universal Church is a treasure of inestimable value, greater even than that of any other art. The main reason for this pre-eminence is that, as a combination of sacred music and words, it forms a necessary or integral part of the solemn liturgy.’
The Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy – Vatican II
‘Music is the expression of ideas greater and more profound than any in the visible world; ideas which centre, indeed, in Him whom Catholicism manifests, who is the seat of all beauty, order and perfection whatever.’
Blessed John Henry Newman of the Oratory
In the words of the psalmist, the Church is called day by day to ‘sing a new song to the Lord’. Throughout history, sacred art has been created to give praise and honour to God while raising the hearts and minds of all people to him and his Kingdom – music being pre-eminent in this work.
Music in the Liturgy is not to be seen as an adornment, but rather as a necessary and integral part of the Church’s daily offering of prayer. Its fundamental purpose is to glorify God and thereby sanctify the faithful. The Church regards her music as ministerial; its purpose is to serve and not dominate. At its purest it assists the Church to pray more profoundly. In doing so the people of God enter into a deeper unity one with another, as together they celebrate the Mysteries of Jesus Christ and are joined to his perfect hymn of prayer and praise to the Father.