A Brief History of the Society
The Society was founded by Dom Bernard McElligott, a monk of the Benedictine monastic at Ampleforth Abbey. He took note of Pope Pius X’s desire in 1903 for Christian faithful to participate more closely and “in the most holy mysteries [of the liturgy] and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church”.
In 1927, Dom McElligott became parish priest in Cardiff of a parish served by monks from Ampleforth, and was determined to fulfil this desire for fuller participation. Writing to the weekly Catholic newspaper, The Universe, he proposed the formation of a society concerned with promoting active liturgical participation for the lay faithful.
The Society of Saint Gregory was formed on 12 March 1929, undertaking the task of promoting full and active liturgical participation.
The Second Vatican Council
The Liturgical Movement of the early 20th Century was influential in preparing and developing the Second Vatican Council’s constitution on sacred liturgy, Sacrosanctum Concilium.
The Society naturally engaged with the movement and promoted it, embracing the aims of the Second Vatican Council in its first document, Sacrosanctum Concilium – the Constitution on Sacred Liturgy.
The Liturgical Movement was one of the foundations for the development and preparation of Sacrosanctum Concilium. The Society embraced the aims of the Council, promoting its aim of fostering a deeper awareness of the centrality of the Liturgy as ‘source and summit’ in Catholic Christian life, and the ministerial function of sacred music in this context. To this end, the Society encouraged, and continues to encourage, the development of new compositions, using texts in English connected with the scripture and the liturgical action, across a variety of musical styles, all ‘ for the glory of God and the sanctification of the faithful’. (Sacrosanctum Concilium 112)
Today the Society of Saint Gregory continues to live the aim of the council, promoting and encouraging “full, active and conscious participation” of the people in the liturgy.
Why was Saint Gregory adopted as our patron?