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Friday, 8 July 2011

Gregorian Chant Preached a Sermon More Eloquent Than the Priest's

Jeffrey Tucker has a fascinating post on the reaction of that barbarian, Robert Louis Stevenson to the chanting at the Mission at Carmel.
I heard the old indians singing mass. That was a new experience, and one well worth hearing. There was the old man who led and the women who so worthily followed. It was like a voice out of the past. They sang by tradition, from the teaching of early missionaries long since turned to clay. And still in the roofless church you may hear the old music. Padre Casanove, will, I am sure, be the first to pardon and understand me when I say the old Gregorian singing preached a sermon more eloquent than his own. Peace on earth, good will to men so it seemed to me to say; and to me as a Barbarian, who hears on all sides evil speech and the roughest bywords about the Indian race, to hear Carmel Indians sing their latin words with so good a pronunciation and give out these ancient chants with familiarity and fervor suggested new and pleasant reflections.
Remarkable! (Not to mention, sacred, beautiful, universal....)

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