Peter Jones, a priest of the Archdiocese of Birmingham, composer, liturgist and a former editor of Music & Liturgy died peacefully on the morning of Sunday 10 April as a result of the effects of non-Hodgkins lymphoma for which he had stoically endured lengthy and unpleasant treatment for the last 18 months.
Peter was born in 1951. He taught music at Cotton College, a school run by the Archdiocese of Birmingham and, following its closure, decided to join the priesthood. After studying at the Beda College in Rome he was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese on his 40th birthday, June 29, 1991. After serving parishes in Coventry and Birmingham area, in 2013 Peter was appointed Parish Priest at Holy Redeemer, Pershore, where the distinguished liturgist J.D. Crichton had designed the church and ministered for many years.
Peter first came to real musical prominence with the “Coventry Gloria”, often known as the “Jones Gloria”, which he was commissioned to write for the Papal Mass with John Paul II at Coventry Airport, Pentecost 1982. Peter also worked at rehearsing a section of the large choir made up of parishioners from the Birmingham Province for that mass. That work was hugely successful both in the UK and the US, in both the Catholic and Anglican communions. Indeed, it was sung at the Eater Vigil at Lincoln Cathedral this year. His revision to fit the 2010 text has been similarly successful. Members of the Society may remember his beautiful, reflective Magnificat setting, which was sung at the October 2014 Winter Assembly in Coventry. His Te Deum setting “We praise you, O God” has had similar success, with an instruction to sing it “as fast as seems reasonable”!
Peter was a member of the “St Thomas More Group” of composers, founder and chair of the Archdiocese of Birmingham Music Committee, and undertook much formation work with parish musicians all over the diocese during a period of over 20 years, travelling the length and breadth of a huge diocese. His last major diocesan project was running sessions on music for the new translation of the Roman Missal in 2011 throughout the diocese. Peter was editor of the Society of St Gregory journal “Music and Liturgy” from 1981 to 1987, taught music and liturgy at the seminary at Oscott College, Birmingham for a number of years, was an adviser to Central Television and was Director of Music for the Papal Mass for the Beatification of John Henry Newman with Pope Benedict XVI at Cofton Park, Birmingham, in September 2010.
Peter also led a team of organ advisers to the Archdiocese, a unique body in the Church, who supported and advised parishes throughout the diocese in the care and maintenance of existing organ and the acquisition of new instruments. The team has even advised on projects in other dioceses when help has been sought, with Peter leading on at least 15 projects in the last 6 years. This work led to his being appointed to the Art and Architecture Commission of the Archdiocese.
In his relatively short period at Pershore he managed to do much to revive a parish that had not had a resident priest for some time before his arrival and was very grateful for the support that he received from many parishioners. He was particularly gratified when he arrived at Pershore to find that his new parishioners had redecorated the Presbytery ready for his arrival!
Peter was embarrassed but gratified to be appointed an honorary member of the Chapter of Canons of St Chads Cathedral and Minor Basilica at Holy Redeemer on 12 March this year. He had hoped to be well enough eventually to be installed in the Chapter at St Chads. His funeral arrangements will be published here as soon as possible.
May he rest in peace.