Musical Life of English Catholics

If you are in or near Manhattan this coming Friday, May 27, you might take pleasure in this lovely program at St. Vincent Ferrer on Lexington Avenue between 65th and 66th Streets. Samuel Schmitt’s lecture, accompanied with live musical examples by early music specialists Charles Weaver, and Grant and Priscilla Herreid, promises to be wonderful.


This is a rare opportunity to engage the riches of English Catholic musical and religious culture under the Tudors. The evening will bring to life the musical life of recusant Catholics—those who defied the Recusancy Laws by refusing to worship in the Anglican Church—in the time of Elizabeth. Mass, in the traditional Dominican rite, follows at 7 PM and features the Missa Regali of Robert Fayrfax. Contrast in musical styles will serve to highlight what was lost and what was gained in sacred music in the tumultuous passing from the age of Fayrfax to that of Robert Byrd.

A reception follows Mass. (The flyer I have in hand calls it a “festive reception.” An inviting word, festive. It suits the spirit of the evening.)

mchale1St. Vincent Ferrer deserves a visit in its own right. It is one of the most beautiful architectural structures in the city—among the most beautiful churches in the country—and the only church with a crucifix carved into its facade. Two relics of Vincent Ferrer are within.