Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Sad but Beautiful

I love how one book leads to another leads to another, etc. Reading Thomas Howard's books lead me to books by Joseph Pearce; books such as The Quest for Shakespeare, Literary Giants, Literary Catholics, Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc and others.

And now I am delighted to discover that there is a great, orthodox, Catholic literary/cultural journal edited by Joseph Pearce. And one of my favorite bloggers, Fr. Dwight Longenecker writes a regular column on film for the journal. The journal is called St Austin Review--StAR.

I went to the website and found this article on Gregorian Chant, which I would like to share with you.

Sad but Beautiful

“It sounds kind of sad,” the little girl said.

It was sad. I was in a classroom full of middle schoolers. We had just
learned to sing a very simple Gregorian chant, a setting of the
Sanctus. And despite the fact that this was a Catholic school, neither
the music teacher nor any of her students had ever sung even the most modest chant melody before.

I was reminded of the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, and particularly of
the deep and abiding sadness that permeates his tales of Middle-earth. In those tales, ages and ages have come and gone, and the remote histories and legends of the earliest times are largely forgotten. But the Elves were the keepers of the legends. They were the stewards of the ancient wisdom and lore that linked generation to generation back to the very creation of Middle-earth…back to the time when the earliest peoples had spoken and lived with the Valar, those mighty angels and servants of God Himself.

Tolkien’s Elves were immortal, and so they were, as such, natural
guardians of history and wisdom. But Tolkien modeled these mythical
beings after the Benedictine monks of Europe. The western monastic
tradition, which began with the Rule of St. Benedict, spread throughout Europe during the Dark Ages. And in those times, as the
Roman Empire crumbled and western civilization was overrun by waves of conquerors, all ancient lore and wisdom was gathered by the monks and preserved. And the prayerful temple music of the ancient Hebrews was remembered and modified to suit the celebration of the Catholic Mass, becoming what we know today as Gregorian chant. Read the rest of the article here.

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