Society of St Gregory Archive
About the Society


Reference code: GB-0033-CSU/D21
Title: Society of St Gregory Archive
Dates of creation: 1929-2019
Extent: 12 boxes
Held by: Durham University Library, Archives and Special Collections
Origination: Society of St Gregory
Language: English, with some Latin

About the Society

The Society was founded by Dom Bernard McElligott, a monk of the Benedictine monastic order at Ampleforth Abbey, who wanted to realise Pope Pius X’s ambition in 1903 for Christians to participate more closely “in the most holy mysteries [of the liturgy] and in the public and solemn prayer of the Church”. In 1927, Dom McElligott became a priest in Cardiff, ministering to 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 Liturgical Movement of the early twentieth-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 Sacrosanctum Concilium to foster 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 the development of new compositions, using texts in English connected with the scripture and the liturgical action, across a variety of musical styles. 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. It runs an annual Summer School, a Composers’ Forum, a Winter Assembly with an annual Crichton Memorial Lecture, a journal (Music and Liturgy), and a network of diocesan contacts for members throughout Great Britain. The Society enjoys the patronage and support of the Bishops’ Conferences of England and Wales, and of Scotland.


Papers of the Society of St Gregory including papers on the constitution, deed of covenant, merger with the Church Music Association, policies, minutes and papers of Annual General Meetings, minutes and papers of Executive Committee meetings, papers of groups and sub-committees, correspondence, summer schools, publicity, recordings including casette tapes and vinyl records, publications including monographs and journals, and papers on external organisations.
The Archive also includes three minute books of the Church Music Association prior to its merger with the Society of St Gregory in the early 1970s.
The printed publications in the Society of St Gregory Archive will be added to the Durham University Library catalogue in due course.

Accession details

Received October 2020, accession number: Misc.2020/21:12.

Previous custodial history

Previously held by the Society.

Conditions of access

Open for consultation.

Copyright and copying

Permission to make any published use of material from the collection must be sought in advance from the Head of Collections (e-mail and, where appropriate, from the copyright owner. The Library will assist where possible with identifying copyright owners, but responsibility for ensuring copyright clearance rests with the user of the material.


Arranged hierarchically


Clean duplicates removed.


Further accruals expected annually.

Technical requirements

Recordings include magnetic tape.


Society of St Gregory website:


D21/A   1937 - 2012
Papers relating to the constitution of the Society, including various revisions
2 files
D21/B   1970 - 1978
Papers relating to the administration of a deed of covenant for the Society, including correspondence and financial statements
1 file
D21/C   7 August 1972 - 22 February 1975
Papers relating to the merger of the Society of St Gregory with the Church Music Association, including correspondence between various committee members, reports and statements
1 file
D21/D   [2010 x 2016]
Policies of the Society, including a policy for the creation of a safe environment for vulnerable people, as well as confidentiality and data protection policies
1 file
D21/E   1961 - 2016
Papers relating to the Society's AGMs, including minutes of meetings, financial statements and annual reports
2 files
D21/F   12 March 1929 - 10 September 2016
Minutes of the meetings of the general/executive committee of the Society, including agendas, reports and associated papers:
Volume 1: 1929-1939
Volume 2: 1939-1959
Volume 3: 1959-1972
File 1: 1972-1979
File 2: 1980-1990
File 3: 1991-1997
File 4: 1998-2002
File 5: 2003-2009
File 6: 2010-2013
File 7: 2014
File 8: 2015-2016
3 volumes & 8 files
D21/G   1987 - 2016
Papers of various groups/sub-committees, including:
(1) Organ Advisory Group (1991-1997)
(2) Strategy Sub-Committee (1990-1992)
(3) Communications Group (8 October 2016)
(4) Composers Group (1987-1997)
4 files
D21/H   21 October 1937 - 1 May 2000
Secretaries' correspondence, mostly relating to the internal management of the Society:
File 1: 1937-1985
File 2: 1989-2000
2 files
D21/J   [?1990] & 23 November 2012
Lists of members of the Society
2 items
D21/K   1929 - 2016
Papers of the Society's Liturgucal and Summer Schools, including programmes, publicity material, lists of participants, and other papers
File 1: 1935-1979
File 2: 1980-1988
File 3: 1989
File 4: 1990-1994
File 5: 1995
File 6: 1996-2001
File 7: 2002
File 8: 2003
File 9: 2004
File 10: 2005-2006
File 11: 2016
File 12: n.d. (probably 1990s)
Photographs: 1929 (outsize - stored in map cabinet Rm5/PF5/37); 1930-1931 (outsize - stored in a separate box); 1947, 1956, 1973, 1974, 1979, 1989 and 1999 stored within folders
12 files & 3 photographs
D21/L   1959 - 2001
Papers relating to individuals who played a role in the Society's history, including Mgr James Dunlop Crichton, Dom Laurence Bévenot O.S.B., Dom Kevin Seasoltz O.S.B., Donal Donnelly-Wood, Canon Harold Wintsone, Dom J. Bernard Elligott O.S.B., Dom Gregory Murray
1 file
D21/M   [1968 x 2000]
Publicity leaflets produced by the Society
1 file
D21/N1-9   1969 - 2019
Society of St Gregory audio recordings:
1 box
D21/N1   1969
“The New Order of Mass”
A concelebrated Mass for the Feast of the Transfiguration of Our Lord.
Recorded in the Chapel of St Bede College, Manchester, at the August 1969 Summer School of the Society of St Gregory
Copyright: Eroica Recording Services
1 vinyl record33 1/3 RPM
D21/N2   1970
“New Baptism Rite”
2 reel to reel tapes (1 unspooled)
D21/N3   1970
Dom Gregory Murray O.S.B., “An English Congregational Mass” accompaniment tape
John Rombaut (organ)
Recorded by Mayhew-McCrimmon Ltd. (Southend, England)
Copyright: Sacred Heart Productions
1 reel to reel tape
D21/N4   1973
Side 1: Father Peter Coughlan, “The Development of the Liturgy, Today and Tomorrow”
Side 2: “Items for the Saturday Concert”, including Bach Cantata 150, some remarks on renewal by a famous churchman, and male voice choir
Copyright: Peter Okell Sound Features (Salford, England)
1 reel to reel tape
D21/N5   1973
“Music Tape No. 1”
Side 1: “Festival Mass with Music” by Bill Tamblyn
Side 2: “Morning Prayer for Saturday”
Copyright: Peter Okell Sound Features (Salford, England)
1 reel to reel tape
D21/N6   1973
“Music Tape No. 2”
Side 1: “Evening Prayer for the Feast of St Lawrence”
Side 2: “Compline” (Also recorded on the Feast of St Lawrence
Copyright: Peter Okell Sound Features (Salford, England)
1 reel to reel tape
D21/N7   [?1973]
1 reel to reel tape (unspooled)
D21/N8   1978 & 1979
Recordings from the Society of St Gregory Summer Schools
2 cassette tapes
D21/N9   April 2019
“The New Order of Mass”
Copyright: Shaw Sounds
1 compact disc
D21/O   1980 - 2012
Papers relating to the publications produced by the Society, including royalty statements for English Catholic Worship, and papers concerning the editorship of Music and Liturgy
1 file
D21/P   1987 - 1992
National and Diocesan Liturgy Conference Reports
1 file
D21/Q   10 May 1955 - 22 February 1975
Minute books of the Church Music Association
Includes typescript minutes glued onto pages
The Church Music Association merged with the Society of St Gregory in 1975
Volume 1: 10 May 1955 - 10 December 1958
Volume 2: 21 January 1959 - 5 December 1970
Volume 3: 15 January 1971 - 22 February 1975
3 volumes