Albert Edwin Lynch
December 10, 1900 – August 23, 1976
A Catholic priest and musician, Albert Edwin Lynch 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 Saint 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 Saint 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 Saint Mary's Cathedral, Perth, which he conducted for fifteen years. In conjunction with Christian Brothers' College, Saint George's Terrace, he established Western Australia's first Catholic choir school. As diocesan director (from 1938) of Gregorian chant, he traveled 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 Saint 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 Saint 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.
Tribute from the Australian Dictionary of Biography, prepared by Clement Mulcahy.