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Lynch, Albert Edwin (1900–1976)

by Clement Mulcahy

This article was published in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

Albert Edwin Lynch (1900-1976), Catholic priest and musician, was born on 10 December 1900 at Collie, Western Australia, eldest child of Ernest Edwin Lynch, a miner from India, and his Victorian-born wife Elizabeth, née Stewart. Raised as an Anglican and educated at state schools, young Albert received his first musical training from the redoubtable Sister Monica at St Joseph's Convent, Boulder, before taking a job as a clerk. In the early 1920s his talent as a violinist earned him a place in orchestras supporting silent movies and enabled him to perform solo recitals on the wireless. Joseph Nowotny became his mentor. The Rivervale Progress Association sponsored the first of a series of concerts to raise the £1000 needed to send Lynch to Belgium in 1923 to study under Emile Marchot at the Conservatoire Royal de Musique de Bruxelles for three and a half years. During this period he was converted to Catholicism. Back in Perth, he led a fifteen-piece orchestra at the Ambassadors Theatre, Hay Street.

In 1930 Lynch began training for the priesthood at the Pontifical Urban College of Propaganda Fide, Rome. He also studied the Palestrina school of polyphonic music, as well as Gregorian chant. In the following year he performed Schubert's Ave Maria before Pope Pius XI. Lynch was ordained priest in St John Lateran Basilica on 16 March 1935. In the Benedictine abbey at Solesmes, France, he encountered the revival of plainsong stimulated by Pope Pius X's liturgical reforms. Appointed curate of Palmyra, Perth, on 6 July 1935, he returned to Western Australia in October. In 1938 he formed an all-male choir at St Mary's Cathedral, Perth, which he conducted for fifteen years. In conjunction with Christian Brothers' College, St George's Terrace, he established Western Australia's first Catholic choir school. As diocesan director (from 1938) of Gregorian chant, he travelled zealously throughout the State, assisting convent schools to establish plainsong choirs, and organizing examinations and competitions. He served on the music examinations board of the University of Western Australia, and collaborated with the Benedictine Abbey Nullius of New Norcia and its musicians, notably Dom Stephen Moreno and Dom Eladio Ros. Lynch was chaplain (1938-42) of Aquinas College, Manning, and, later, of other institutions. Founding parish priest (1952) of Applecross, he dedicated the parish to St Benedict and ministered there until he retired in 1973.

Following the Second Vatican Council's directives regarding use of the vernacular, in the 1960s Lynch had begun to write church music with English lyrics. For Pope Paul VI's visit to Australia in 1970, he wrote music for the Mass in St Mary's Cathedral, Sydney, and Mass of the Unsung Saints for a service held at Randwick racecourse where he conducted the choir. His compositions were used at the International Eucharistic Congress in Melbourne in 1973. Lynch died on 23 August 1976 at Applecross and was buried in Karrakatta cemetery. He bequeathed his violin, viola and bows to the University of Western Australia, his piano to the Applecross parish school, and his records of polyphonic music and Gregorian chant to the archbishop of Perth.

Select Bibliography

  • Centenary of the Catholic Church in Western Australia, 1846-1946 (Perth, 1946)
  • D. F. Bourke, The History of the Catholic Church in Western Australia (Perth, 1979)
  • Record (Perth), 21 Jan, 13 Apr 1935, 9 May, 27 June, 18 July 1936, 9 Jan 1937, 17 Dec 1939, 7 Mar 1940, 23 July, 22 Sept 1943, 4 Feb 1949, 22 July 1976, 16 July 1980
  • Catholic Weekly (Sydney), 4 July 1968
  • West Australian, Melville South Perth supplement, 7 Dec 1970, 24 Aug 1976
  • Lynch papers (Catholic Archdiocesan Archives, Perth)
  • Benedictine Abbey of New Norcia (Western Australia) Archives.

Citation details

Clement Mulcahy, 'Lynch, Albert Edwin (1900–1976)', Australian Dictionary of Biography, National Centre of Biography, Australian National University, http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/lynch-albert-edwin-10877/text19309, published in hardcopy 2000, accessed online 31 August 2014.

This article was first published in hardcopy in Australian Dictionary of Biography, Volume 15, (MUP), 2000

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