Father Alfred Young, C.S.P. (1831-1900): Church Musician

YOUNG, Alfred, clergyman, was born in Bristol, England, January 21, 1831, the son of Thomas Young and Sarah Agnes Stubbs. His parents subsequently settled in America, where he was prepared for college and matriculated at Princeton, from which he was graduated in 1848, and afterwards entered the medical department of the University of New York. Here he was graduated in 1852, and began the practice of his profession, but abandoned it at the end of the year to enter the Seminary of St. Suplice, Paris, for his theological studies, having become a convert to Catholicism in 1850. Later, having decided to enter the priesthood, he was ordained Aug. 24, 1856, and was immediately appointed vice-president of Seton Hall College, which office he held for one year. He was then made rector of the Roman Catholic church at Princeton, N.J., where he remained three years, and in 1860 was placed in charge of the church at Trenton, N.J. In 1861, he resigned his charge, desiring to enter more closely into a religious life than the opportunities of a secular priest afford, and joined the then lately founded community of Paulist Fathers in New York city, laboring for many years as a missionary preacher and holding many offices in the community. His name is most prominently identified with the reformation of Catholic church music in the United States, looking especially to the abolition of the hitherto prevailing concert style of singing and of the use of modern musical masses and vespers rendered by mixed choruses of men and women, and urging a return to the ecclesiastical “choir” or sanctuary chorus of men and boys for singers, and to the use of the authorized liturgical Gregorian chant for all that is ordered to be sung in the Catholic services. The influence of his writings and personal efforts on this subject has been widely felt throughout the United States, as it has also been in securing the general acceptance by the clergy and people of another similar musical reform, viz., congregational singing in Catholic churches, to the introduction of which he has particularly devoted the latter years of his life. The large surpliced chorus of the great church of the Paulists was established by him in 1871, and is considered to be the finest of its kind in the United States. It has been said that in no church in the world are the ceremonial rites and the liturgical chant more perfectly performed than they are in that church. Many of his sermons are to be found in the six volumes of “Sermons by the Paulists” (Appleton, and the Catholic Publication Society Co.). He is the composer of the music of a large number of church hymns. Among his principal publications of this class are “The Complete Sodality hymn-book” new edition, “Catholic Hymns and Canticles,” “The Office of Vespers,” “The Catholic Hymnal,” “Carols for a Merry Christmas and a Joyous Easter,” and “An Order of Divine Praise and Prayer.” He has contributed a number of articles on various religious topics to the Catholic reviews, magazines and newspapers, and is the author of a series of poems, the greater number of which appeared anonymously in the “Catholic World.”

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography (Supplement I) (New York: James T. White & Co., 1910), 256.

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