Paul Taylor

Date of Submission



This dissertation investigates the singing of chant by priests and people during Sunday Mass and the Church's liturgical year, in addition to the perceptions held by pastoral ministers concerning the use of chant in the post-Conciliar liturgy in the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne. The dissertation was a response to a call for field studies of liturgical music in Catholic parishes in order to supplement the historical and musicological studies that have dominated liturgical music scholarship during the past century. The study was also undertaken in order to assess the extent to which the Second Vatican Council's vision of music in the liturgy, particularly the use of Gregorian chant, has been preserved in the Church's reformed liturgical rites. Data for the research was generated by two surveys. In the first (distributed to all 226 parishes in the Archdiocese with a return rate of 61%) participants were asked to indicate which chant settings of liturgical texts, hymns and Mass settings are sung with information regarding when and by whom. In addition, participants were asked to provide data on music ministries, music budget allocation, instruments and the educational background of pastoral ministers. The second qualitative survey was conducted with a representative group of 34 pastoral ministers (12 priests, 10 pastoral associates and 12 musicians) whose responses to 29 questions were collated under various themes representing their predominant perceptions about chant. Responses were then analysed in relation to official Catholic Church documents and perceptions expressed in various scholarly sources throughout the English-speaking world. A major finding of this study is that most of the ministerial chants that can be sung during Mass are only sung in a minority of parishes surveyed.;However, a relatively small repertory of ministerial chants is widely sung in the parishes surveyed during the most solemn times of the Mass and liturgical year. An especially important finding is that chant is generally perceived to be liturgically valuable because of its inherent simplicity, its association with Catholic tradition and identity, and its capacity to evoke solemnity, transcendence, congregational unity and participation, thus harmonizing with the central aims of the Second Vatican Council's liturgical reforms.

Document Type


Access Rights

Open Access


374 pages

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Faculty of Arts and Sciences