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Wednesday, 16 July 2008

Words or Music? Egg or Chicken?

"Let the servant of God sing in such a manner that the words of the text rather than the voice of the singer cause delight, and that Saul's evil spirit may depart from those who are under its dominion, and may not enter into those who make a theatre out of the house of the Lord".
-- St. Jerome, on Ephesians

In a conversation I had recently concerning hymn selection there was some disagreement as to criterion --
I made a statement that the words were the first consideration, they should take precedence over the music, that liturgical music should always be the servant of the Word.
And then it occurred to me that that may be an assumption on my part that has no basis in anything other than personal opinion.
So, I'm willing to be schooled -- is this a bit of what I presumed was "common knowledge" or common sense that simply isn't true?
Correction and admonishment cheerfully accepted.

1 comment:

Dad29 said...

"Word is primary" applies to 'sacred music,' defined as the Ordinary parts of the Mass, other Mass texts, and the Propers, or texts of the Bible.

It does NOT apply to hymnody.

As to the authority of the "word-first" (given the definition above,) see B-16's multiple documents on sacred music.