The Oratory’s founder, Saint Philip Neri, was a great believer in the power of sacred music as a means of raising our minds and hearts to the Lord.
St. Philip’s first Oratory in Rome was one of the great centres of sacred music in the Eternal City. The most celebrated composers and singers of the day became associated with it and in that way contributed to its apostolate.
From its foundation, the Birmingham Oratory was noted for the carefulness of its liturgical music, due largely to the active interest of John Henry Newman himself, whose love and aptitude for music were an important part of his own spirituality.
We do our modest best to maintain the tradition we have inherited. At High Mass in our church on Sundays and other Holydays the mellifluous liturgical compositions of Palestrina, Byrd, Victoria, and many others, are heard.
The beauties of polyphony and plainchant are entirely congruent with the spirit of prayerful recollection and sober devotion which should always characterize the way we offer the Eucharistic sacrifice.
The noble simplicity and timeless beauty of Gregorian chant has a pre-eminent place in the Roman rite.
The function of authentic Catholic liturgical music is not to stir the emotions, nor to echo the cacophonies and frivolities of secular music and culture. Its proper religious function is to help us raise our hearts and minds to heaven above, the heaven that opens upon us each time the sacrifice of the altar is celebrated, As the Light of light descendeth, from the realms of endless day.