15 January 2022

Another diploma arrives
in the post this week

A new certificate as a Fellow of the Fraternity of Saint Cecilia

Patrick Comerford

A new diploma arrived in the post this week, recognising my Fellowship in the Fraternity of Saint Cecilia.

The Fraternity of Saint Cecilia is a learned and social society for musicians, and I was first elected a fellow on 11 May 2019 soon after it was founded to continue the work of the Academy of Saint Cecilia.

Saint Cecilia is a Roman martyr who is the patron saint of music and musicians. It is said that, as the musicians played at her forced wedding, Saint Cecilia ‘sang in her heart to the Lord.’ Musical compositions are dedicated to her, and her feast, on 22 November, is the marked in many places with concerts and musical festivals.

The first record of a music festival in her honour is at Évreux in Normandy in 1570. The Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome is one of the oldest musical institutions in the world. It was founded by the papal bull, Ratione congruity, issued by Pope Sixtus V in 1585, which invoked two saints prominent in Western musical history: Gregory the Great, after whom Gregorian chant is named, and Saint Cecilia, the patron saint of music.

Her feast day became an occasion for musical concerts and festivals that occasioned well-known poems by John Dryden and Alexander Pope and music by Henry Purcell (Ode to Saint Cecilia); several oratorios by Marc-Antoine Charpentier (In honorem Caeciliae, Valeriani et Tiburtij canticum; and several versions of Caecilia virgo et martyr to libretti probably written by Philippe Goibaut); George Frideric Handel (Ode for Saint Cecilias Day); Charles Gounod (Saint Cecilia Mass); as well as Benjamin Britten, who was born on her feast day (Hymn to Saint Cecilia, based on a poem by WH Auden.

Herbert Howells’s A Hymn to Saint Cecilia has words by Ursula Vaughan Williams; Gerald Finzi’s For Saint Cecilia, Op 30, was set to verses written by Edmund Blunden; Michael Hurd’s A Hymn to Saint Cecilia (1966) is set to John Dryden’s poem; and Frederik Magle’s Cantata to Saint Cecilia is based on the story of Saint Cecilia.

‘The Heavenly Life,’ a poem from Des Knaben Wunderhorn, was used by Gustav Mahler in his Symphony No 4. It mentions that ‘Cecilia and all her relations make excellent court musicians.’

Saint Cecilia’s Abbey at Ryde on the Isle of Wight was founded in 1882. The nuns live a traditional monastic life of prayer, work, according to the Rule of Saint Benedict.

I was already a Fellow of the Academy of Saint Cecilia (FASC) when the Fraternity of Saint Cecilia was formed. When the Fraternity of Saint Cecilia was reconstituted last year, I was elected a fellow again on 9 August 2021, but the diploma only arrived in the post this week.

The Fraternity is not an examining body, but its members have a shared interest in church music, are found across the globe and come from many walks of life.

Membership is conferred by the Fraternity’s governing chapter in two categories: Fellow and Associate.

The chapter members are Christopher Maynard, Master; Richard Jobe, Secretary-General; the Revd Canon Dr Peter Thompson, Chaplain; Dr Ian Higginson and Dr Craig Paterson.

Ordinary members are admitted as associates of the fraternity (AFSC). People who meet specific criteria are admitted as fellows of the fraternity (FFSC). These requirement include holding a recognised qualification in music at diploma level or above; more than 20 years of service to the Church in a musical capacity; or being an associate of the fraternity for a period in excess of 10 years

When I was elected a fellow, it included my role as the Canon Precentor in Saint Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, and Saint Flannan’s Cathedral, Killaloe, and many years of teaching liturgy at master’s level in the Church of Ireland Theological Institute (CITI) and, before that, in the Church of Ireland Theological College (CITC).

The certificate of Fellowship of the Fraternity of Saint Cecilia which arrived this week is signed by both Christopher Maynard, Master, and Richard Jobe, Secretary-General.

1 comment:

Christine Brown said...

Congratulations Patrick