London Oratory

London Oratory

The London Oratory is the home of the Congregation of the Oratory of Saint Philip Neri in the Brompton Road, London, SW7. It was founded in 1849, the year after John Henry, Cardinal Newman had established the Birmingham Oratory, when Newman sent Frederick Faber and companions including Thomas Francis Knox to start an Oratory in London. The original premises (a former whisky store) were in King William Street (now William IV Street). In 1854 the community moved to its present Brompton Road site, which now lies right next to the Victoria and Albert Museum. A large temporary church was built in 1854. This was replaced by the present impressive neo-baroque church, designed by Herbert Gribble, in 1884. Until the opening of Westminster Cathedral in 1903, the London Oratory was the venue for all great Catholic occasions in London, including the funeral of Cardinal Manning in 1892.

Together with their Church of the Immaculate Heart of Mary the community of the Oratorian Fathers is often popularly, though incorrectly, referred to as the 'Brompton Oratory'.

The Oratorian Fathers are a congregation of secular priests living a community life together, bound together not by vows, but by the internal bond of charity, and by the external bonds of a common life and rule, dominated by prayer and ministry to their city. There are several masses offered each day and private masses are available by arrangement, as are weddings and funerals. Confessions are also heard daily and priests are always available for counsel and advice. The London Oratory is famous in particular for the solemn celebration of the Roman liturgy, especially in Latin, and for its preservation of the traditional place of music in the liturgy, which is currently served by three choirs.

The London Oratory Choir is an adult, professional chamber choir serving the major liturgical celebrations in the Oratory Church, including solemn Latin Mass and Vespers on all the Sundays of the year and for major feasts. Dating from the establishment of the London Oratory on its present Brompton Road site in 1854, the London Oratory Choir is England’s senior professional Catholic choir, and has an international reputation as one of the world’s leading exponents of choral music within the traditional Roman Rite, noted especially for its performances of Renaissance polyphony and the Masses of the Classical Viennese school. Recent Directors of Music have included Henry Washington (1935-1971), John Hoban (1971-1995), Andrew Carwood (1995-1999) and Patrick Russill (1999-to date). The London Oratory also has a rich organ tradition, its Organists including Ralph Downes (1936-1977), Patrick Russill (1977-99) and John McGreal (1999-to date). The organ of 45 stops, 3 manuals and pedals, built by J. W. Walker & Sons, 1952-4, to the designs of Ralph Downes, was the first church organ in London to be built on neo-classical lines, and is considered one of the finest British organs built since World War II.

The Oratory also has a children’s choir, The London Oratory Junior Choir, founded in 1973 by John Hoban to give boys and girls together an opportunity to serve the liturgy in a great church. In addition to singing regularly one evening service and one Sunday (English) Mass every week, the Oratory Junior Choir is also active outside the Oratory. Noted for its free tone and forthright delivery, it has appeared in all London’s major concert halls and at the Proms, with conductors including Andrew Parrott, Nicholas Kraemer and Sir John Eliot Gardiner (including prize-winning recordings of Monteverdi’s "Vespers" in St Mark's Basilica in Venice, and Bach’s "St Matthew Passion"). Since 1979 it has provided the children’s chorus for Royal Ballet productions at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden. From 1984 its Director was Patrick Russill, and since 2005 its Director has been Charles Cole.

The Saturday Vigil Mass is sung by The London Oratory School Schola, a notable choir of boys and men established in 1996. The current director of the Schola is Lee Ward. In addition to liturgical and concert performances, the choir has recorded film soundtracks and audio albums.

It was at the London Oratory Church, in front of the statue of St Peter, located in the centre of the church, under the choir loft, that England was re-dedicated to St Peter and Our Lady, sparking the 19th Century political debate as to the loyalties of English Catholics, to the Pope or to the Monarch.

The congregation is one of the largest Catholic congregations in LondonFact|date=October 2007

External links

* [ Official Brompton Oratory Homepage]
* [ Junior Choir Homepage]
* [ London Oratory School Schola Homepage]

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