Requiem for Father Malachy was written in 1973. It was commissioned by the Nash Concert Society with funds provided by the Arts Council of Great Britain for the Nash Ensemble and The King’s Singers. The work lasts 45 minutes and is scored for 6-part choir, 2 flutes doubling 2 piccoli, trumpet, trombone, percussion, piano, chamber organ and string quartet.
Father Malachy-Lynch came to England in 1949 with a group of fellow Carmelites. They rebuilt the Priory at Aylesford, which had been destroyed at Henry VIII’s orders by the Wyatt family, and settled there. In 1951, Father Malachy-Lynch bought Allington Castle in Kent, which belonged to a member of the Wyatt family, and set up a retreat centre. He remained there until his death on 5 May 1972.
I wrote the Introit of the Requiem for Father Malachy after returning from the Concelebrated Requiem Mass for him. This was subsequently performed in Winchester Cathedral. I was then persuaded to set the entire Office for the Dead. The music was written ‘au jet’ and has for me a deeply personal connection with Father Malachy, hence the use of the latin singular throughout. The liturgical nature is further stressed by the liberal use of Plainsong.
The intimate quality of six male singers and a chamber ensemble offered to me the right combination for this Requiem.
To have known Father Malachy is a great privilege. He was a very simple man, no great intellectual, his scholarship was of the Spirit and its range as vast. My encounters with him were not all that frequent, but a few minutes with him were enough to tell you that you had encountered something rare. As someone has said, we know and we do not know, yet know all we need, that here is a man we and the world are better for having.