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Obituary: Alan Rees.

POP musicians often boast about how they can rattle off a hummable tune in the time it takes to brew a cuppa.

Well, you would expect more contemplation to be devoted to sacred music, but the abbot with a highdomed forehead, whose childhood was enriched by the roll of Welsh hymns, was also a master of the quick melody.

As a founder member of the Panel of Monastic Musicians, Abbot Alan Rees was often required to produce in a few minutes a finelycrafted composition to lift a particular hymn text and satisfy the standards expected by his colleagues. He never failed.

And the quality of his work was heard in his Congress Mass, written for the National Pastoral Congress held in Liverpool in 1980.

Although his first religious experiences were at the Tabernacle Welsh Baptist Chapel at his native home in Swansea, Rees established his reputation as a composer in the reforms which followed the Second Vatican Council of the 1960s.

Using Gregorian modes rather than modern scales, Rees was keen that his music should be tuneful, encouraging people to sing as they had in his childhood.

While at Dynefor Grammar School, Rees became an Anglo-Catholic, but did not convert to Catholicism until he was studying at University College, Cardiff, where he graduated in music.

He professed vows in 1969 and became a priest five years later, having studied in Rome for two years.

In 1986, he was elected the ninth abbot at Belmont Abbey, in Hertfordshire.

While in this position, as an associate of the Royal College of Music and the Royal College of Organists, he advanced the cause of sacred music greatly, setting a new English translation of the Missal to music, while also writing on Benedictine spirituality.

Although a gentle and congenial man with a strong belief in the contemplative nature of scripture, Rees had periods of depression which could affect his work.

After seven years as abbot, he stepped down and was appointed to the titular role of Abbot of Tewkesbury, advocating the benefit of spiritual retreats.

His death resulted from a fall

Alan William Rees, abbot and musician; born February 1, 1941, died October 2, 2005
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Title Annotation:Comment
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Oct 13, 2005
Words:361
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