Christopher Walker is an internationally known lecturer, composer and conductor whose works encompass children's music for liturgy and catechetics plus a wealth of material for all liturgical celebrations. His works appear in many of the St. Thomas More Group's American collections.

The St. Thomas More Group burst upon the American liturgical consciousness in one unforgettable hour at the 1985 NPM Convention in Cincinnati. Walker remembers, "The people all processed out singing "Paschal Procession" in parts, and kept singing all the way into the street!" Afterwards, he recalls, "Owen Alstott invited us for a drink; that was the beginning of our long association with OCP."

Walker was born June 9, 1947, in London. When he was four, his family moved to Bristol, the site of the only hospital in England that could treat his paralyzed father.

Money was tight. Although his parents weren't churchgoers, becoming a boy chorister at Bristol Cathedral (Anglican) meant a free education. "I was eight and a half, and the other boys were eleven. It was a Damascus moment: I loved it. When I had a solo, my voice was echoing where nine hundred years of singing had been going on...."

Another Damascus moment: "When I was 12, I had the flu. One Thursday morning (it was pouring rain), I looked at the beat-up piano in my bedroom, got out a piece of paper, drew five lines on it -- and was instantly hooked. That first piece had the left hand in E major and the right hand in A flat; I thought bi-tonally from the beginning. I wanted to sound completely original, not like anyone else. Now I deliberately tone it down to be of service to as many people as possible."

At 13, he was asked to write music for a BBC religious program. At 15, he wrote the score for a prizewinning film. Other BBC radio plays and film scores followed, including one for which he had a single day to write all the incidental music. "I'm helpless without deadlines."

His piano teacher, Geoffrey Mendham, said, "Get a music degree!" Walker received a master's degree in composition at Bristol University. When Clifton Cathedral was being built, he "wasn't Catholic; I never believed I was capable of being a cathedral director of music. I was at home when the priest came and said, 'Get in the car; you're going for your interview.' There I was, in my paint-spattered jeans, with eight or nine people asking me questions. I ended up with the job. The first year's salary was 200 pounds ($300 at that time). It taught me humility."

He served both as Director of Music at Clifton Cathedral in Bristol and as Director of Music for the Clifton Diocese.

"The first year, I did a hopelessly godawful job. I thought we must have a choir for people to listen to. Not a soul sang. I started doing Anglican hymns that went up to top F's and E's. No one sang. So in 1973, I started writing responsorial music: a short phrase for the cantor, to be repeated by the people—and the people sang."

"It's easy to get sucked into the 'star' mentality. When it rubs off in church as well, it's a red flag to me. I consider myself fortunate to be useful -- now, today, to be useful!"

In 1977, Walker took the Bristol and Clifton cathedral choirs to India for ten days -- and another Damascus experience. A year later, he returned to Calcutta, at the Prem Ananda Leper Hospital daily, tearing up donated sheets into strips for bandaging lepers' wounds. "Sister Florence, who put me to work, was my secret inspiration. A trained nurse, she lived with no running water and no panes of glass in her windows. I last saw her in 1998, when she was 94; she died in 2004."

During the '70s and '80s, Walker was part of the composers' group of the Society of St. Gregory, along with Paul Inwood, Bernadette Farrell, Ernie Sands and many others. "We were brutal criticizing each other's music—but we learned our craft!"

By 1989, Walker was coming to the U.S. so often that "it wasn't fair to the cathedral. In 1990, an opening came up in Los Angeles at St. Paul the Apostle in Westwood; I've been there ever since."

Walker had worked with the North American Forum for the Catechumenate since 1982. "We introduced the RCIA in Singapore, Malaysia and Brunei. There was very little music out there that was useful for the rite" -- hence Christ We Proclaim (11293TL).

On a flight returning to California from the East Coast, he felt around in his bag for a crossword puzzle -- but there was no puzzle." He started thinking about Holy Week, wondering how to keep the second reading of the Passion from feeling like "We've heard this already."

"I thought, 'Jesus has to sing.' I developed three little phrases that fit everything, simple enough so that the priest could sing them easily. Jesus sings; the narrator speaks; the organ pulls everything together. The assembly, like a Greek chorus, comments on and intensifies what has happened in little Taize-like phrases. The choral parts are for the average good parish choir: mostly two parts, in octaves." By the time the plane touched down in Los Angeles, Walker had written all the choir parts and most of the 'Jesus' parts for The Passion of Christ According to St. John.

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compositions published by OCP (Oregon Catholic Press)

GENERAL MUSIC (all published by Oregon Catholic Press)
All the Sunday and Feastday Communion antiphons in two volumes with CDs recorded be the New Schola Cantorum
Communion Antiphons (Volume 1 for Seasons, Feasts and Solemnities)
Communion Antiphons (Volume 2 for Sundays in Ordinary Time)
Hail Mary, Full of Grace (octavo)
Above All Other (Pilgrim hymn for Our Lady of Doncaster) (octavo)
May God Support Us (octavo)
Misa de la Misericordia (Spanish responsorial mass written for the Year of Divine Mercy)

Come, Receive Christ
The Passion According to St John
Morning & Evening – Prayer for the Commute
(5 Morning Prayers and 5 Evening Prayers following the format of theLiturgy of the Hours for working people and people at home)

CHILDREN’S MUSIC (all published by Oregon Catholic Press)
NEW! Many More Stories and Songs of Jesus (out December 18)
Stories and Songs of Jesus
Many Stories and Songs of Jesus
We Shall Praise Your Name (24 Daily prayer services for children)
Way of the Cross for Children
Music for the Children’s Liturgy of the Word (150 Psalms and 150 Gospel Acclamations for the Three- Year Lectionary cycle for Children)
Who’s The Greatest (octavo from Many More Stories and Songs of Jesus)

Christopher Walker travels the country and the world sharing his knowledge and experience as conductor and liturgist with varied groups, from individual parishes to archdiocesan-wide conferences. These are a sample of the workshops that can be scheduled through OCP. Contact 1-800-LITURGY and ask for workshops.

Advent and Christmas
For adults and children alike, Advent and Christmas are wonderful times for refocusing. This session explores repertoire for the season and reflects on the different character of each Advent Sunday. The session also addresses the challenge of providing a musical welcome for our "once-a-year" visitors at Christmas.

Children and the Composer
What are the parameters and challenges of writing music for children? This workshop will show how we can write effectively for children choosing texts that are not trite, but full of Gospel values. The importance of engaging rhythms, hand and body actions, strong melodies and liturgical relevance will all be addressed.

Lent, The Triduum and Eastertide
These three linked seasons hold a special place of power in the Church's year. They are a time for deepening faith and welcoming new and returning Christians. Each celebration has its own power to convert us all. This workshop will carefully explore the richness the rites give us for musical involvement, especially ways in which all the parish musical resources can be combined.

Making Stones Sing
How can we turn a reluctant assembly into a singing body ready to live the Gospel? We will examine appropriate and inappropriate music for use with the assembly; how to use music other than hymns and songs; a guide to all the parts of the Mass, with special attention given to the moments of active participation for the assembly; and suggestions on how the stranger may be welcomed through music.

Music and the Liturgy of the Word with Children
All over the world, children say, "Mass is boring." It is often the Liturgy of the Word that alienates our children most. We will examine how this "boring" part of mass can become the way by which children build a lasting relationship with God using language and music that helps them express the real concerns of their lives.

Music and the Spirituality of Children
The words and music we give our children to sing are crucial in helping them discover a love for God. These are the songs that will stay with them through life. What should we be using in church, classroom and home to help our children in their faith journey? We will sing music for formal and informal times, for Church celebrations and at bedtime, as well as look at the importance of crossover music with the adult assembly.

Music: The Breath of Life in the RCIA
Simple acclamations and other musical forms can convert the assembly from an audience to an active participant in the Rites of Christian Initiation. This workshop is a musical tour through the Rites and on into Mystagogia, showing many ways in which the Rites can be made more relevant for a particular community.

Ordinary Time Need Not Be Ordinary
It is in the ordinary Sundays that we grow as Church. The skillful choice of music can help your parish grow spiritually and as a family, committed to living the Gospel values in their lives. Using a wide variety of sources we will explore ways the "ordinary" Sundays can deepen our relationship to God and one another.

Rediscovering the Child Within
Using music and memory, this workshop helps us remember the wonder that we had in our early faith journey. Getting in touch with how it felt can help us be better teachers and catechists so that we can be better companions on the journey with our children.

Retreat for All Who Minister on Sunday
This is a day of reflection for all that minister at liturgies; greeters, lectors, ministers of communion, musicians and priests. Through prayer and song, we will celebrate the ways our ministries interact and help our community put the Gospel into action.

The Choir Is Not Dead
The role of the choir in today's liturgy is a varied and rewarding one. This session will examine the many ways a choir can enrich the assembly's song, as well as provide its own repertoire of meditation and inspirational song. Also included will be rehearsal techniques and ways in which a choir can be prepared spiritually to lead and enrich celebrations.

The Liturgical Composer
The composer is at the head of the line in helping the Church sing herself into action. Writing effective assembly music requires good word setting, strong melody and rhythm with accompaniment that helps, not hinders. The limitations of the assembly's untrained voice can be an inspiration and not a limitation. This will be explored through examining repertoire and also writing music ourselves during the workshop.

The Ministry of the Cantor and Leader of Song
Being an effective leader of song requires spiritual as well as musical preparation. This workshop will show effective techniques for inviting the assembly's full participation as well as ways in which we ourselves can grow spiritually through our own prayer life. Areas of special attention: The responsorial psalm, gesture, introducing new music, microphone technique and working with an accompanist.

The Spirituality of the Musician
We can get so busy during celebrations that our own prayer life can suffer! This day is an opportunity for us to rediscover our own depth of spiritual growth through singing and sharing with moments of reflection.


September 10th Baritone solo in a Concert of Renaissance Composers in the Chiesa di San Rocco, Venice
September 23rd Papal Mass, Washingon: ‘Laudate, Laudate Dominum’ sung at the start of Mass with full symphony orchestra and massed choirs.
October 27th Carmel Mission Basilica: Premiere of ‘Always Forward, Never Back’ in honor of St Junipéro Serra.
November 2nd 7:30 pm All Souls Day Mass: Directing Fauré’s ‘Requiem’ with the New Schola Cantorum, Church of St Paul the Apostle, Los Angeles
November 22nd Cantor at the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Angels for the Feast of Christ the King
November 28th Liturgical Composers of California Forum meeting: Mount St Mary’s College Music Department, Chalon Campus, Los Angeles 10:00 am – 3:45 pm
December 8th First Performance of ‘Joy In The Rising’ – a choral piece commissoned by the Jesuit
Community for the choir of the Church of the Immaculate Conception, Farm Street, London
December 20th at 3:00 pm Festival of Christmas Lessons & Carols, Church of St Paul the Apostle, Los Angeles


January 25th – 28th National Composers Forum annual meeting: St Louis
Religious Education Congress (international gathering) Anaheim
February 26th Workshop: ‘Many More Stories and Songs of Jesus’, with Sister Paule Freeburg, D.C.
February 27th Workshop: ‘ Spiritual Care for Your Choir and Music Ministers’
March 24th – 27th Holy Week at St Paul the Apostle
April 15th – 16th Workshop in Virginia: Celebrating the great Fifty Days of Easter
July 11th – 15th National Pastoral Musicians Convention – Houston
Workshop: Polyphony 101 and Beyond
Discover how polyphony can enhance your singing technique, choral ensemble and deepen your spiritual experience.
Workshop: Liturgy Without Spirituality? – Just Entertainment
Pope Francis: “Liturgy detached from spiritual worship risks becoming empty” How can we focus on the spiritual dynamic of liturgy and encourage the ministerial intention of choirs, cantors and accompanists?
Industrial Showcase: Many More Stories & Songs Of Jesus
The newly‐published third volume of the successful series for young children
July 29th – 31st National Network of Pastoral Musicians – England
Workshop: ‘Out with the Old, In with the New’
How do we help church music evolve and change without alienating the assembly?
September 8th Poly-Choral concert of Renaissance music


January 6th: Baritone solo in ‘Beatitude Mass’ by Henry Mollicone in the Jesu Basilica, Rome, Italy

©2015 Christopher Walker CLICK TO ACCESS OCP

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