Paul Inwood

Paul Inwood is a summa cum laude graduate (i.e. graduate with distinction, the first for ten years at the time) of the Royal Academy of Music in London. The year 2013 saw him celebrating 51 years as a professional church musician and his 37th Chrism Mass (every year since 1977 as a planning consultant, or organist, or director of music/director of liturgy in four English dioceses and one American diocese).

Paul's experience covers a wide variety of posts, from parish churches to positions at cathedral and diocesan level. From 1981 to 1986 he was organist at Clifton Cathedral, Bristol, and from 1986 to 1991 he was diocesan director of music for the diocese of Arundel and Brighton.

After a spell based in the Los Angeles area (1991-1995) Paul returned to the UK, and from 1995 to 1999 was director of music for the RC cathedral and diocese of Portsmouth. Since 1 January 2000 the cathedral has been taken care of by its own director of music, and Paul became director of liturgy for Portsmouth diocese - the first (and so far the only) lay person to hold such a full-time salaried post in England - while continuing as diocesan director of music. His diocesan position was terminated on 6 April 2013 as part of a large-scale redundancy exercise, and until mid-2015 he was assisting as part-time Music Editor for Liturgical Press. He is now freelancing as an organist, composer and liturgical consultant.

Paul is a former member of the Church Music Committee of the Bishops' Conference of England and Wales, and a former member of the Subcommittee for Liturgical Formation of the Department for Christian Life and Worship of the same episcopal conference. He is an associate member of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions (FDLC), a member of the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM), and an honorary life member of the Society of St Gregory (SSG).

Paul has worked in book and music publishing, has taught in seminaries, and is also well known as an accompanist on piano and organ and as an accomplished continuo player. He is one of the few surviving exponents of the Solesmes tradition of Latin plainchant organ accompaniment.

He is perhaps best known as a composer and workshop presenter. Many of his compositions have been published by Oregon Catholic Press, and a substantial number of others have also appeared with GIA Publications, Liturgical Press, and World Library Publications. In the British Isles, his work has appeared in publications from a number of publishing houses including Geoffrey Chapman / Cassell, Collins Liturgical Publications, McCrimmon, Decani Music and Paul's own publishing imprint, Magnificat Music.

More of his music has been sung on UK radio and TV broadcasts of Catholic services since the mid 1980s than any other single Catholic composer. To date, his two most popular pieces are the psalm setting Centre of my life and the Gathering Mass, both of which also feature regularly on non-catholic and interdenominational broadcast worship services - but there are many others close behind, including We shall draw water, Take Christ to the world and Today is born our Saviour, plus a number of pieces of liturgical music for children (all published by OCP Publications in the Children at Heart collection and some separate octavos), and several of the pieces for sacraments, RCIA, etc, featured in the 2005 Ritual Moments collection from GIA Publications. Part of the appeal of his music is the way that it combines different stylistic elements that speak to a wide cross-section of congregations and choirs, together with a guarantee of musical quality that is found even in the simplest pieces but also in the most "jazzy" ones.

Paul has written many commissioned pieces in the years since 1968, and is happy to accept commissions for new pieces. Some examples: 1999 saw the first performance of the theme song Now is the promised time (available from OCP Publications) for the National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) national convention in Pittsburgh, and a Jubilee Mission Hymn for the Pontifical Mission Societies in England and Wales. A Maryland parish commissioned Paul to write a new mass setting for its centennial celebrations in 2001, and in the same year Christ, the living water was commissioned by his own diocesan cathedral for the blessing of the font/sprinkling of water in the restored building. This latter piece was also used at the dedication mass of the new Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels in Los Angeles on 2 September 2002, and is now published by GIA. Another important commissioned mass setting for the diocese of Plymouth will be found on our Publications page with revisions for the revised Missal text, and several other commissioned pieces appear in the exciting GIA collection entitled Ritual Moments, a collection of music for sacraments, RCIA and other occasions. Other commissions have included a gathering song to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the cathedral in the diocese of Shrewsbury - see our Latest Publications page, a choral setting of an English translation of the Ave Regina Caelorum for the Bishop of Wheeling-Charleston, VA, and a number of settings of psalms using the Revised Grail Psalter. He wrote a school song for the 50th anniversary of Bishop Lynnch Catholic High School in Dallas, Texas, and his Missa Orbis Factor is a very successful new Mass setting for the 50th anniversary of Arundel and Brighton diocese. England (see our Latest Publications page).

His latest commission was a hymn in celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions in the USA. May We Be Christ in the World is available from OCP Publications, ed. no 30145173 (or as a PDF: 30145174).

In 2015 he was one of 90 composers around the world invited to submit a setting of the official Hymn for the Holy Year of Mercy for a competition sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. His winning entry was recorded by the Sistine Chapel Choir and is now being sung all over the world in many different languages. (See our webpage.)

Paul is one of the five members of the Collegeville Composers Group, whose work in the Psallite project is gaining increasing recognition in the USA and the British Isles. In addition to the collection of antiphons and psalms for the three-year cycle, the group has recently published a collection of music for initiation and has a large resource collection of music for the new Mass texts. See our Psallite page for more details.

Paul has led thousands of workshops all over the British Isles, the USA and Australia during the past 50 years. He is well known for being a liturgist as well as a musician, and his presentations are always dynamic and spiced with a wonderful sense of humour. Paul's speciality areas are the relationship of music and rite, cantor training, and ritual music for children; but he also covers many other liturgical and musical topics. He has a gift for getting large choirs of people who have never sung together before to sound terrific and give inspired performances in a short space of time; and those who have attended his retreats for church musicians will testify that they are powerful and moving experiences as well as spiritually nourishing. He is well known as a clinician on US military bases throughout Europe, and as a retreat-giver in the English-speaking parishes of Switzerland (Basel, Geneva, etc). In his diocesan parish work, he is renowned for his liturgy courses, "The Mass under a microscope", focus on ministry, Centrality of Sunday Eucharist, etc.

For details of how to organize a workshop with Paul, see below. For details of sample workshop topics, click here.

Paul worked at the St Thomas More Centre for Pastoral Liturgy in London for 14 years as an editor, workshop presenter and music specialist (1974-1987). While he was there, he founded what became the St Thomas More Group of composers. He is a former editor of the Society of St Gregory journal Music and Liturgy (1974-1981), and was secretary of the Church Music Association in the last years (1973-1975) before its re-amalgamation with the Society of St Gregory.

He was director of music for the papal mass at Coventry airport in 1982 which assembled half a million people. In the mid 1970s he spearheaded the introduction of the music of Taizé into the UK, and in the latter part of the 1980s he introduced the music of the Iona Community across the USA. From 1986 to 1998 he was the English-language president of the international liturgical music study group Universa Laus and is still an active member of that body. In October 1998 he was one of only ten consultants worldwide (and the only one from an English-speaking country) to be invited to contribute to a conference at the Vatican on papal celebrations in the year 2000.

Paul has a regular column, Sound Reflections, in the Society of St Gregory journal Music and Liturgy. In 2008 he was invited to give the SSG's J.D. Crichton Memorial Lecture - his topic was “Music, Liturgy, Culture: can they live in harmony?”. In July 2009 he was honoured by the US National Association of Pastoral Musicians (NPM) at their Chicago national convention as “Pastoral Musician of the Year”. For a number of years he had a regular Focus column in the journal GIA Quarterly, and has written occasional articles in the journals Pastoral Music, Modern Liturgy and Catechumenate.


If you would like to organize a workshop or choir festival with Paul, or commission a piece from him, you can simply e-mail him direct. In the US, you can also organize a workshop via OCP, GIA or Liturgical Press.

Click to go direct to the workshop topics page.


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