Anthropology, Theology, and the Simplicity of Benedict XVI’s Chant

Anthropology, Theology, and the Simplicity of Benedict XVI’s Chant Bennett Zon Introduction For a late-Victorian theologian like John Harrington Edwards music is by its very nature sacred. Writing in God and Music (1903) he claims that "music . . . speaks of God, from God, for God, and to God."1 Other Victorians considered music to be neither sacred nor secular. For them music existed only to serve the basic human need of expression. Evolutionist Herbert Spencer epitomizes this materialist view when he suggests that the function of music lies entirely within the human mind, to help develop its "language of the emotions."2 Chant was often caught in this ideological crossfire. For anthropological thinkers like Spencer chant was primitive and utilitarian; for theologians like Harrington it was developed and spiritual. For both of them, however, chant was also "simple." For theologians chant encapsulated divine simplicity; for anthropologists, human simplicity.3 Chant continued to be defined by these respective types of simplicity--one theological; the other, anthropological--until the 1960s, when unexpectedly commentators on the Second Vatican Council seemed to invert anthropological and theological criteria of musical simplicity. As this article argues, they applied anthropological l o g o s 19 :1 w i n t e r 2016 criteria to theological http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and Culture Logos: Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture

Anthropology, Theology, and the Simplicity of Benedict XVI’s Chant

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Logos: Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture
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Copyright © The University of St. Thomas
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1533-791X
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Abstract

Bennett Zon Introduction For a late-Victorian theologian like John Harrington Edwards music is by its very nature sacred. Writing in God and Music (1903) he claims that "music . . . speaks of God, from God, for God, and to God."1 Other Victorians considered music to be neither sacred nor secular. For them music existed only to serve the basic human need of expression. Evolutionist Herbert Spencer epitomizes this materialist view when he suggests that the function of music lies entirely within the human mind, to help develop its "language of the emotions."2 Chant was often caught in this ideological crossfire. For anthropological thinkers like Spencer chant was primitive and utilitarian; for theologians like Harrington it was developed and spiritual. For both of them, however, chant was also "simple." For theologians chant encapsulated divine simplicity; for anthropologists, human simplicity.3 Chant continued to be defined by these respective types of simplicity--one theological; the other, anthropological--until the 1960s, when unexpectedly commentators on the Second Vatican Council seemed to invert anthropological and theological criteria of musical simplicity. As this article argues, they applied anthropological l o g o s 19 :1 w i n t e r 2016 criteria to theological

Journal

Logos: A Journal of Catholic Thought and CultureLogos: Journal of Catholic Thought & Culture

Published: Dec 28, 2016

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