Wednesday, May 03, 2006

quick note for advocacy of chant and polyphony

The qualities that St. Pius X identified as making these forms ideal for liturgy are not primarily aesthetic.

This must be understood unambiguously: P10 did not establish chant as the ideal music for liturgy because he thought it was pretty. He made this point because it clothes its text with maximum freedom to accomodate any stresses or weak syllables in the text.

It’s pretty remarkable, when you think about it, how (as far as I know) nearly ever extant piece of Catholic liturgical music sets its text without an iota of change to the sacred text. Music changes, text is constant - probably THE hallmark of the liturgical music tradition of the Western world.


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