Music and Majesty

Linnean Society Burlington House, London
Monday 1 July (09:30) - Tuesday 2 July 2024 (17:00)

Chapels Royal, Cathedrals, and Colleges, c.1485-1688

illustration of religious figures


The period 1485-1688 has been heralded as a ‘Golden Age’ for English church music, which equipped the Church of England with a rich musical repertory for its liturgy, still heard in churches, cathedrals, and concert halls today. Royal chapels, cathedrals, and collegiate institutions are acknowledged as unique sanctuaries which safeguarded English church music from a variety of socio-political events. Although their importance to the musical and religious development of the English ‘long Reformation’ has received considerable attention from historians and musicologists, interdisciplinary perspectives and discussions are vital for the future development of this field.

Understanding the way in which royal chapels, cathedrals, and collegiate institutions engaged with a musical liturgy for a Protestant Church has important consequences for understanding many of the key themes and tensions of the English Reformation: how was musical liturgy reconciled with the doctrinal Calvinism of the post-Reformation church? How different was royal worship compared with that of cathedrals and collegiate churches? Can we better understand the sensory experience of worship in such extraordinary ecclesiastical spaces? To what extent did these institutions change, and to what degree were they truly seen as models for the broader church? These questions will help us interrogate the musical, theological, and liturgical heritage of the English Reformation, and contribute to our understanding of the post-Reformation English church.

Join us for this exploration of space, music, and ceremony during this transformative period in English church history. This two-day hybrid conference, hosted at the Linnean Society, London, is generously funded by the British Academy. We can offer a limited contribution towards the travel costs of some ECR/unwaged attendees. Please email for further enquiries.

In-person tickets include coffee/tea on both days and a wine and canapé reception on Monday evening. Those joining us in person will also have the unique opportunity to join a service at HM’s Chapel Royal at St James’s Palace, with a special programme of music from the period.


Monday 1 July 

  • 9:30 - 10:15: Registration and coffee
  • 10:15 - 10:45: Opening remarks: Katie and Oscar
  • 10:45 - 12:00: Panel 1 - Projecting majesty
    • Chair: Peter McCullough
    • Speaker 1: Kenneth Fincham, The Chapel Royal and the Caroline Settlement of the English Church, 1660-3
    • Speaker 2: William Hunt, Music ‘on message’: Politically charged composition in the later Elizabethan and early Jacobean court circle. 
    • Speaker 3: Owen Rees, The new Queen’s Chapel and Portuguese sacred music at the Restoration court  
  • 12:00 - 13:00: Lunch 
  • 13:00 - 14:30: Panel 2 - Extraordinary occasions 
    • Chair: Katherine Butler
    • Speaker 4: Matthias Range, Reformed Royal Occasions
    • Speaker 5: Alexandra Siso, A new Jerusalem: Thomas Tallis, Elizabeth I, and the music of the Royal Maundy
    • Speaker 6: Anthony Musson, Reputation and Rivalry in Early Tudor Chapels 
  • 14:30 - 15:00: Coffee Break 
  • 15:00 - 16:30 pm: Panel 3 - Shaping space
    • Chair: Simon Thurley
    • Speaker 7: Mark Kirby, the comely and decent chapel
    • Speaker 8: Charlie Spragg, To admire ‘your wisedome in the glorie of your house’: King James VI, Stirling Chapel Royal, and the Temple of Solomon
    • Speaker 9: John Wall, Reconstructing Cathedral Soundscapes: The Virtual St Paul’s Cathedral and Paul’s Cross Projects  
  • 16:30 - 17:45: Wine and canape reception 
  • 18:15 Service at St James’s Palace 

Tuesday 2 July

  • 10:00 - 10:30: Coffee 
  • 10:30 - 12:00: Panel 4 - Singing the service 
    • Chair: Owen Rees
    • Speaker 10: Daniel Koplitz, The Ludlow Partbooks: A Mirror to Chapel Royal Repertory of the 1560s and 70s?
    • Speaker 11: Katie McKeogh, In the service of a lost Church: Catholic liturgical books in the ‘Protestant’ Universities
    • Speaker 12: Katherine Butler, Rounds, Canons, and the Education of Choristers in the Chapel Royal and Cathedrals  
  • 12:00 - 13:00: Lunch 
  • 13:00 - 14:30: Panel 5 - Changing the sound of worship: thought and practice
    • Chair: Kerry McCarthy
    • Speaker 13: Jonathan Arnold, Music, Meaning and Morality: Humanist Critiques of Music and Musicians in Late-Medieval English Cathedrals
    • Speaker 14: Andrew Foster, The musical preferences of Archbishop Richard Neile 
    • Speaker 15: Nicholas Thistlethwaite, Barometers of change: the silencing and reintroduction of organs during the English ‘long Reformation’ 
  • 14:30 - 15:00: Coffee Break 
  • 15:00 - 16:30: Panel 6 - The chapel and the city
    • Chair: Diarmaid MacCulloch
    • Speaker 16: Magnus Williamson, From lagoon to oasis: the Chapel Royal after Henry VIII
    • Speaker 17: Lucy Munro, Masters and Deputies at the Chapel Royal, 1582-1606
    • Speaker 18: Kerry McCarthy, Singers on the Road  
  • 16:30 - 17:00: Closing Remarks

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