Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Worship Music Is a Serious Matter

A melodious idea, sober in outline and expression, indicating the general feeling by some simple and exquisite points, accompanied by a few harmonic intervals—such is the work of the ancient composer.  If it is asked how it was possible out of such primitive elements to create really beautiful works, we reply by simply referring the reader to some of the early Christian compositions—the Te Deum, for example.

The character and object of Christian worship led the Church to reproduce this simple art, so pure and so well adapted to her sacred songs.  She was the guardian of the best traditions of classical music in an age when degenerate art, borrowing from the East and still more largely from Egypt, sought by the combination of instruments and of voices to excite and stimulate evil passions, especially in luxurious feasts, which, like the theaters and pantomimes, were the nurseries of all vice.*

E. de Pressensé, Christian Life and Practice in the Early Church, 307-8

* See Clement of Alexandria, The Instructor, II.4.

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