The Age of Revolutions
Summary and Keywords
A variety of economic, ideological, aesthetic, and nationalist forces shape Christian worship in its varied manifestations today. Historical perspectives and areas of knowledge which are too often discussed in compartmentalized fashion are presented here as acting with and on each other and often serving each other’s purposes. Liturgical, musical, artistic, and architectural expressions are shown to be inextricably bound not only to theology, philosophy, and ecclesial hierarchy but also to political and socioeconomic structural change, technological innovation, and—not least—the culture and the human need for authentic spiritual experience.
The Enlightenment “Age of Reason,” Romanticism, the nation-state, and the Industrial Revolution from the 17th through the 19th centuries affected religious practices that were the only mass medium that reached into every town, house, and heart. Connections are established with not only overtly religious events such as urban Evangelism, preservation of old architecture, the Oxford movement, and tradition versus innovation but also socialistic communal experiments and ethnic conflict among US immigrants.
Minds, Hearts, and Nations
Today churches still debate issues defined during the Age of Reason and Revolutions, yet this era has been relatively overlooked by liturgical historians. Compared to the privileged definitions of early Christianity and the patristic era, the labyrinthine syntheses of the Middle Ages, or the schisms during the Renaissance and Reformation, the intellectual and affective as well as the industrial and political revolutions of the modern world may seem merely temporal matters. Actually, they are often applications of attitudes taught through Christian religious practices.
Concerning worship, Christianity began a three-sided debate following the 1648 Peace of Westphalia whereby secular rulers put an end to the wars of religion. (In Britain, the equivalent date was 1660, when the monarchy was restored.) The first party to the debate was the party of the mind. Tired of the violence of the Reformation era, many thoughtful leaders sought to make Christianity reasonable. According to these rationalistic reformers, worship should be reformed not only to revive the supposed simplicity of the Early Church but also to make Christianity more useful by minimizing distractions from its ethical teachings. Thereby many Christian leaders were agents of the Age of Reason, the Enlightenment.
The second party was of the heart. They were “enthusiasts” in the strict sense of the word. As in the original Greek meaning of this theological term, they sought the indwelling of God through religious experience beyond verbal definition. Often they favored a style of worship centered on small gatherings where individuals could speak up and pour out their feelings. Sometimes pious reasons of the heart complemented Enlightenment elitism, and sometimes they reinforced communal folk traditions. Though sometimes starting, like the Wesleys (the founders of Methodism, discussed below), from zeal to invigorate established churches, enthusiasts always yearned for the heartfelt personality of Jesus’s church. Whether rebelling against the high-and-dry preaching of some Protestant denominations or the arid rubricism of much Roman Catholicism, all aimed at intensity of religious experience.1 Despite the conflicting theological distinctions that separated them, the partisans of the heart included Pietists, Quakers, the Moravian Brethren, the Methodists, and many other new Protestant movements. Baroque Roman Catholics, too, psychologically all-embracing within their triumphalist liturgies or worldwide syncretic devotional practices, may be included among the enthusiasts because of their emotionally intense retreats, devotions, and artistic—even theatrical—practices. Among enthusiasts, the charismatic roles of personal (including communal), poetic (including oratorical), and artistic (particularly musical) incarnations of the Word in worship were a key to their strong appeal, though often the despair of theologians preoccupied with doctrinal distinctions.
The contrast between the baroque sarcophagus of the very Catholic Empress Maria Theresa of Austria (r. 1740–1781) and the plain tomb of her Enlightenment son and successor, Emperor Joseph II (r. 764–1790), pictured in Figure 1, dramatizes a collision between ideologies.
The third party to the debate was the nascent nation-state, which sought to control religious ritual as a means of achieving national unity. In the medieval past, ecclesiastical leaders had often bested secular rulers in contests such as the Investiture Controversy between Pope Gregory VII (Hildebrand, risen from low estate; r. 1073–1085) and Holy Roman Emperor Henry IV (r. 1056–1106). A similar collision in Britain led to the martyrdom of Thomas à Becket (c. 1118–1170) that boomeranged against Henry II of England (r. 1154–1189). Later, however, nationalistic champions such as the Anglican Henry VIII (r. 1509–1547) and the Gallicans Henry IV (r. 1589–1610) and Louis XIV (r. 1643–1715) and Tsar Peter the Great of Russia (r. 1689–1725) began to turn the tables by employing religious practices as tools to insinuate the divine right of kings as superior to the Church. By the end of the 18th century, political and commercial-industrial revolutions worked to enhance the cult of the nation-state.
In the 19th century, the three-way debate continued. According to the liberal heirs of the Enlightenment, the achievements of science, technology, and capitalism implied that worship should be replaced by education in ethical issues. Worship might also be supported as a cultural amenity, like a museum. Or, it might continue to serve as emblem of national social cohesion. On the contrary, argued the Romantic cultural critics, coldhearted modern industrial society needed even more to celebrate inscrutable tradition and incomprehensible feelings as avenues to ineffable realities that transcend earthly empires. Meanwhile the secular national state emerged as the most powerful cultural force wherever Western civilization reached. Reasons of the mind, the heart, and the nation conspired to form, reflect, and communicate a complex cultural system expressed in public worship.2
Enlightenment Rationalism and Counter-Reformation Catholicism
“Since there is nothing man can give God, there is no particular duty we owe God,” wrote the premier modern philosopher, Immanuel Kant (1724–1804), concerning worship.3 This dictum epitomizes the critical humanism at work even within the churches during the 18th-century Age of Reason, the Enlightenment. The urge to revise Christian worship was linked to an impulse that would impel the French Revolutionaries to end it. However different in various countries and situations, sharp criticism was everywhere aimed against apparently irrational traditions, claims of special privilege, and closed canons that seemed no longer to serve any useful purpose.
Although the Enlightenment is sometimes pictured as the assassin of Christian civilization, it was actually a logical outgrowth of an intellectual tradition handed down by the Christian Church in the West, ever seeking to explain the unexplainable. The foundational philosopher of the Enlightenment, Sir Isaac Newton (1642–1727), was seeking not to undermine faith but to “justify the ways of God to men” (to use the poet John Milton’s phrase). Few philosophers and theologians of the day questioned the ancient Platonic paradigm whereby religious ritual ought not to be left to mere artisans. Religious authorities still insisted on a psychological hierarchy of intellect over emotions in human nature, an artistic hierarchy of text over tone in music, an ecclesiological hierarchy of clerical over lay, male over female, and rubrics over imagination.
Debate was sharpest concerning Catholic worship because rationalistic critics found so much to criticize in the Roman Catholicism of the baroque and rococo eras. To be sure, the core of Catholic teaching and practice after the Council of Trent (1545–1563) emphasized the essentials of the sacramental system centered on the real presence of Jesus Christ in the eucharist, “body, blood, soul, and divinity,” brought to earth through the mediation of his ordained priest. The liturgical panoply associated with the Catholic tradition appealed to sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, and every aspect of the imagination. Yet this artistic apparatus was always ancillary. The fixed rubrics that controlled every word and movement of the priest were not open to new modes of interpretation that might diminish priestly powers as the Protestants had done.
Around the liturgy, however, there flourished a dense network of non-liturgical religious practices such asconfraternities, sodalities, and religious traditions that blended the pope-to-priest hierarchical system with popular religion and artistic creativity around the globe. The relationship between the strictly controlled priestly liturgy and its ancillary activities was often strained. This led to the ironic situation whereby, for example, the musicians who breathed life into the petrified rubrics of the Tridentine (The word means “as defined by the Council of Trent” [1545–1563]) ceremonial find themselves reproached for “sins of the choir,” as though a servant class, composers and musicians, conspired to prevent congregational singing of the official liturgy.
Baroque and rococo visual artists of the 17th and 18th centuries, too, have been roundly condemned for overactive imaginations that sculpted far too many distracting stucco saints squirming in ecstasy. Like the gaudy gothic figures of the Middle Ages, baroque art and architecture has the reputation of bad taste among classically oriented critics who overlook the fact that the idealized ancient buildings often taken for models were actually in their own day brightly painted and decorated all over. By combining l’esprit géométrique of the Enlightenment with a prudish Platonic paradigm common among academic liturgists, though not among the Catholic peoples of the world, it has come to pass that the liturgies and music of the 17th through 19th centuries are reputed “disasters.”4
In fact, baroque art and music may have saved the Counter-Reformation Roman Church and its liturgy from marginalization to the fringes of Western civilization. From a more holistic, anthropological perspective, what really happened is that the people were communicating—actively participating—through media beyond words, “riting beyond writing.”5 As Latin had been a primary means of maintaining church unity in the feudal centrifuge, it remained so in the face of the nation-state. Pre-electronic acoustics, majority illiteracy in a society as yet unable to provide books for everyone, and churches without furniture for the congregation to sit still in and listen required a liturgy that depended on media other than the literal or oratorical. Few liturgical critics, who are always serious men of letters, were willing to grant that so playful a trinket as, for example, Italianate operatic masses could contain of themselves anything morally instructive or liturgically worthy. Yet the composers were speaking through music of the Christian, as well as humanistic, dignity of men and women. By presenting the best music in church and appealing frankly to the emotions of the laity, as well as to the intellect of experts, composers and performers were revitalizing a humanizing tendency in Western myth and ritual. They were composing in the tradition of apostolic Pentecostal glossolalia (Acts 2:1–13), patristic mystagogia, medieval mystery/morality plays, and renaissance/reformed biblical vigor—each in its own way alive to an essential aspect of human spirituality.
Ordinary listeners could understand this concert style—with its clear melodic line and homophonic, dance-like accompaniment—more easily than the labyrinths that composers had constructed based on the rules of counterpoint. Classical music was, therefore, originally in part a folk style that said “Sursum corda” to the drama- and procession-loving Catholics of Europe. Missionaries overseas found that such a psychologically all-embracing style of worship appealed to the peoples of the globe.6
This “lift up your hearts” may have been among the first romanticisms, that is, an affective revolution against the Platonic hierarchy of abstraction over experience. In those lands where literature was closely censored, humanism was usually more evident in music. In this case, as in others, the Roman Church knew how to absorb a heterodox element.
In Amadeus, the 20th-century play (later film) by Peter Schafer, the title character representing Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (1756–1791) obscenely insults His Excellency the Archbishop of Salzburg, who dislikes Amadeus’s church music. In another scene—probably more true—Emperor Joseph II says that the composer’s music has “too many notes.” Despite the musician’s bad manners, today’s sympathies probably lie with the upstart, for he was asserting the rights of the underdog. Liturgically, he was proclaiming the value of imagination against narrow-minded literalism. Yet the bishop and emperor were modernizers (Aufklärer in German) trying to streamline religious practices in order to communicate the Enlightenment to the populace through the liturgy, the only mass medium that reached every social class and every village.7
“Josephinism” and its cognates in other lands, trying to modernize, influenced subsequent liturgical reforms.8 The Enlightenment proposed a systematic revision of Christian worship.9 According to the humanistic principles found in Kant and applied to the reform of 18th-century liturgy, the goal of a cult should be found on earth, in the education and edification of humanity. Because specific ritual forms are not essentials of religion but accidents, the best rites would be formed not by tradition or divine mandate but by reasoned investigation. Such investigation was the explicit purpose of many periodicals and books published in the late 18th century. In 1784 the initial article in Seilers Liturgisches Magazin (published at Erlangen in northern Bavaria) stated that it would circulate all opinions about religious rites because public debate would be good for liturgical studies. Though most of the articles in this and similar German periodicals were by and for Lutherans, the Magazin included articles on Catholic, Reformed, and Jewish rites. Although only eight issues of Seiler’s quarterly were published, other periodicals soon took up the same study.10 By the turn into the 19th century, there were periodicals by and for musicians, as well theological journals, debating issues of liturgical reform. Soon Germans of every ideological—not just religious—persuasion were offering suggestions about how public rites, festivals, and schools might help to transform the still-feudal German principalities into a unified nation capable of standing up to the French.
Judging from the number of published proposals suggesting improvement in the liturgies of various German religious groups, the year 1811 was the climax of the controversy over liturgical reform, coinciding with the War of Liberation against Napoleon’s invading French armies bent on subordinating religious worship to imperial propaganda. Around that pivotal year, liturgical reform agendas turned Romantic. They began to look to national folk cultures as weapons wherewith to repel, rather than imitate, the Enlightenment.
In the contest between the Enlightenment and baroque Catholicism, the German lands lay culturally midway between the skeptical French intelligentsia and the solidly Counter-Reformation lands to the east and south. Catholicism used every conceivable means to fill the people’s minds with lively images calculated to make them loyal children of Holy Mother the Church. This symbolic system extended prayer from the altar into every situation and place. The crucifix or saintly image placed not only in churches but in a corner of every room (taverns included), on every street corner, and in every farmer’s field became a barrier more to the Aufklärung than to Protestantism. Surrounding the liturgy itself were such paraliturgical activities as passion plays, processions, and pilgrimage to destinations like the Fourteen Saints Basilica pictured in Figure 2, in beautiful rural Bavaria. . Yet, such holiday pageantry might seem not just excessive but a downright waste of time and resources that might better be spent on utilitarian projects. Corpus Christi preparations and processions—perhaps originally derived from Summer Solstice celebrations—might occupy an entire city. During the festivities in 19th-century Naples some devout might even cleanse the pavement ahead of the priest bearing the host with their tongues.
A good example of the critical—even satirical—spirit abroad among educated Catholic clergy during the Enlightenment were parodies of Good Friday Passion Plays like the one still performed every ten years in Oberammergau, Germany. Every Catholic town once had such pageantry, intended to involve the entire populace in the acting-out of Christ’s passion and death. A Bavarian Delight: Consisting of Worldly and Spiritual Comedies, Examples, and Satires, published in 1782 by the disillusioned Benedictine Anton von Bucher, included a “Sketch for a rural Good Friday Procession, together with a lively and spiritual prologue to the Passion Play.”11 Bucher’s piece caricatured the ubiquitous Catholic paraliturgical devotions. In the procession, following the guilds and fraternities in their regalia, came a slapstick vignette of ancient Roman history mocking popular Christian notions with an absurdly pompous mounted emperor; then came a rampaging devil—always a crowd-pleaser. Next came Jews who insult the Lord but are confounded by a preposterous miracle in reply. The parade was punctuated with interpolated irrelevant musical numbers; each episode was to be labeled with placards of misquotations from scripture supposedly commenting on the action. Although Protestants might view such iconoclastic burlesquing of ecclesiastical imagery as merely an extension of their own satires of popery during the Reformation, in Catholic lands such criticism struck at the very foundation of the Old Regime.
The argument over religious traditions and celebrations was keenest over music and everything that it represented. According to the classical aesthetic hierarchy, music was the language of the passions and therefore irrational. In the social hierarchy of the day, musicians were lumped with actors and prostitutes at the bottom of the ladder. Those professions seemed to pursue mere sensuality. Nevertheless, cloisters and ecclesiastical courts supported an astonishing musical establishment, resulting in hundreds of “Amadeuses” composing, singing, and playing to make the liturgy more spectacular than an opera house.12 In fact, opera imitated the liturgy by applying to the stage many of the theatrical techniques developed for sacred oratorios and later applied to the liturgy itself. In the late 18th century, however, secular philosophers and enlightened Christians both believed that music—indeed all art—when employed in public celebrations ought directly to assist the teaching of ethics and the training of good citizens. Such a classically Platonic paradigm dictates that the arts and their makers as such offer scant moral nourishment. They might at best season biblical, moralistic, or civic texts in order to make them palatable. Music and art that took a congregation’s mind off these objectives should be eliminated. For continental critics, England was a model of cultural reform along such lines. The congruence between English Protestant and Enlightenment attitudes was exemplified in the first regular newspaper in England, The Spectator (1711–1712). The voluble editors, Joseph Addison and Richard Steele, mocked Handel’s imported operas for their elaborate stage machinery, visual and auditory trumperies, and florid language.13 English Protestant culture, less musical and more literary because more biblical, was proudly judged to be “classical.” By applying to the liturgy, the divine opera (the opus dei),14 the same criteria that the classically minded critics applied to secular opera, ecclesiastical leaders pronounced melismatic (in which several notes may be assigned to a single syllable), Latinate music reprehensible.14 Whether it was in the fashionable Italian operatic style or in ancient Gregorian chant, it was worse than useless! In the words of even Catholic critics, “Let this expensive musical apparatus be turned to more touching songs and prayers which people can understand. If only aphrodisiacal sopranos and touchy castrati were replaced as singers by respectable persons and clergy, what could be achieved by worship to transform the hearts and souls of a wholesome people!” Thus wrote the relatively moderate Ernst Xaver Turin (1738–1810), the editor of the most used and copied German Catholic prayer and hymn book during the Enlightenment, the “Mainz Hymnal” (Mainzer Gesangbuch, c. 1787).15
Aufklärer, partisans of the Enlilghtenment in German-speaking lands, warned that Jesus’s church had “no mission to produce art critics, because the more artistic music becomes, the fewer it reaches.” Less elaborate music—that is with fewer notes, as urged by Mozart’s bishop and emperor—would give the Word a better chance to reach everyone. As with the neopagans outside the churches, so too within them, rededication to a useful and beloved antiquity seemed the way to modernity. Some Christians welcomed this trend because it seemed to promise a return to the classical age not so much of pagan Rome but of primitive Christianity. Their efforts were contemporary with the ritual style of propaganda on the part of the revolutionary leaders in France who desired to control every aspect of human behavior down to the details of dress and demeanor in order to replace Catholic mores.16 In a double dose of neoclassicism, liturgical reformers combined admiration for the simplicity of the Christian Apostolic Age with secular aesthetic canons derived from pagan Aristotelian dramatic theories and Cartesian rationalism. In order to recover the model simplicity of Christianity’s “classical” period, theologians proposed to revise their liturgies according to the unities of classical drama derived from Aristotle’s Poetics. According to such dicta, good taste demanded that unities of action, place, and text be imposed on the ramified Roman rite that had evolved haphazardly over the centuries. Unity of text required that each service have a “theme,” often moralistic. Readings and music would be selected specifically to enhance this theme. Unity of action meant that only one action should occur at a time and this should be in a language intelligible to the people. Unity of place demanded that the architecture should focus attention on the unified action, meaning that distracting windows, statuary, paintings, and competing altars ought to be removed. Such reforms seemed to conflict with venerable Catholic practices such as praying the rosary, looking at the windows or decor, moving about the church, listening to music, or thinking that mere physical presence sufficed while the priest recited the required Latin prayers. Even if the choir might interpret the Latin texts musically at a sung mass, the priest still had to recite every word, because, according to Tridentine regulations, only his prayer represented the church officially.
“In order to win the emotions for the intellect,” as Kant phrased it, liturgical editors published experimental services built around a single didactic theme. These experiments sometimes began with an introductory essay tying the proposed reforms to the systematic theology of the day. Catholic proposals stated belief both in a vernacular, didactic Catholic liturgy and in papal primacy. Although the Aufklärer Ernst Xaver Turin would later curse the “atheistical French” for singing their revolutionary anthem La Marseillaise in German churches, he was nonetheless a German influenced by French thought.17 Catholic theologians who hoped to improve their liturgy were hampered by a clerical and hierarchical liturgical tradition whose elaborate music and pomp seemed to reinforce a retrograde division of the Christian community into clerical professionals and lay outsiders. It seemed that if Catholicism were ever to regain a pristine community of love, its rites and music should follow the Protestant lead and hearken back to primitive Christianity.
Protestant Aufklärer were better able to rationalize their liturgical tradition without contradicting it. “Preaching the Word,” witnessing to personal religious experience, and explaining natural theology (theodicy) suited the rationalistic, nationalistic, and democratic trends of the 18th century even more than they had suited the Reformers of the 16th. Theologians of both centuries idealized the same golden age, the Christianity of the first three centuries. Enlightened authors reasoned that Christians must abandon the “pagan and Hebrew” notion of God as an Eastern potentate and must instead emphasize the Christian image of a father, whose family we are, and whose rite, the eucharist, symbolizes a meal of the family of man, not the supine awe of subjects for a “king of kings.”
An important mode of participation in the supposed simplicity of the Early Church was its presumably plain congregational singing. Catholic critics also wished to reform the existing “imperial” rites by editing hymnals and service books so that the tunes, as well as the texts, both obeyed and therefore taught rational rules, the better to inculcate rational mentality by smoothing the irregular rhythms of old Gregorian chant and chorales to the regular meter typical of 18th century neoclassical poetry and music. When enlightened rulers began to make education a state concern, they usually eliminated the choir schools, whose exclusively Latin and musical curriculum seemed to serve only the clergy, who were the secular rulers’ competitors.18 Chorales with simplified tunes were to become the backbone of a congregationally sung Catholic worship. These tunes were rationalized according to the canons of neoclassical prosody. Regular meter, evenly scanned lines, and didactic texts became the rule. The old chorales lacked those attributes that neoclassicists wanted to impose on lyrics and music: four eight-measure phrases setting rhymed couplets. So, the classicizers stretched archaic patterns of speech to fit common grammatical paradigms, cut or padded tunes to fit regular meters, and replaced imagery with logic. To ensure that no one would drift into meditation or daydreaming, reformers speeded up the tunes by translating the semibreves and minims into eighths and sixteenths. So, paradoxically, while the liturgiologists were expelling dance- and opera-inspired music from the temple, they made church music obey the rhythmic conventions of the entertainment music they banned. The entente between rationalism and liturgical reform that began in the 18th century flourished until the French excesses under Napoleon and the rebelliousness manifested in 1817 at the tercentennial Wartburg celebrations of Luther frightened the ruling classes. Metternich’s Catholic and Hapsburg Vienna celebrated the three-hundredth anniversary of the Reformation in company with the Protestant Germanies. At the celebration, the notes of Luther’s straightforward “Ein’ feste Burg ist unser Gott” (A Mighty Fortress Is Our God) were chopped in half to fit a wordy new text.
These reforms imposed from the top sometimes collided with beloved popular religious traditions. When in 1791 the Duke of Württemberg, a relatively liberal place bordering France, introduced in his domains a “corrected” hymnal for Protestants, they complained that it would “make them Catholics,” because it included some hymns by Catholic authors. Christmas carolers found that if they used the new books, their tips were small indeed. Conversely, the Catholics worried about the protestantizing danger of the “corrected” hymnals given them. In Protestant Halle, the Liturgisches Journal for 1806, in treating the question of how one ought to introduce enlightened hymnals and prayer books to congregations, recommended that preachers proceed “according to the intelligence of their congregations.” Yet, above all, the clergy must do their duty by requiring the spread of Enlightenment and morality.
By disposing of accretions to Christianity since its first centuries, the Enlightenment reformers hoped to make the message of the Gospels stand out. To “make Christianity relevant in all situations for all types of people” meant to avoid “dulling repetition of mechanical devotions which are the essence of priestcraft, for morality and religion cannot be taught ‘ex opere operato.’”19 Catholic classicists worked to end the “aimless repetition” in the Roman missal, wherein a few masses from the Common of the Saints sufficed for most days not Sundays or major festivals. Critics now condemned the Gregorian liturgical books “which bear the name of a pope and teach ultramontanism to the younger clergy.”20 Enlightened priests argued that the Common of the Saints, which contained generalized liturgical prayers for various categories of saints such as widow, martyr, virgin, virgin-martyr, confessor, confessor-bishop, doctor of the church, and so forth, had no reference to the actual life of the particular person whose sanctity was being celebrated. This seemed to teach superstition, “for there is no proof that most of those names published by the Curia did anything worth admiring; indeed, monastic saints, even the authentic ones, are useless examples for modern people.”21 The prayers and readings from the Common spoke in general terms about “loving justice and hating iniquity” or declared, “The souls of the just are in the hands of God.” The reformers wished that such “vague repetition” would yield to more pointed propers with lessons on specific ethical and theological themes.22
Among the festivals that the Catholic Aufklärer wanted to add to the liturgical year were some that the contemporary French revolutionaries like Maximilien de Robespierre would make major festivals in the civic cult. These were celebrations to honor the state, peace, and education or to explain ideas from natural religion, such as “The Unity of God” and “The Rational Order of the Universe.” Even the inflexible canon of the mass was to be loosened in favor of allowing variations suited to various congregations or educational topics. In every mass, the climax of popular participation was to be a Hauptlied—a hymn imparting the theme of the mass—sung by the congregation in place of the preface and its response the Sanctus. There would be no occasion for any of Palestrina’s—and certainly not for Mozart’s or Franz Joseph Haydn’s—masses!
Some reformers desired that congregational songs with lessons for everyday life replace the old poetical or generalized texts that had been bound to the yearly liturgical cycle. One proposed hymn encouraged workers to do their best so that hard currency would remain in their homeland. Another warned mothers that uneducated lads grow up to be vagrants. Reformers in the various Christian churches tailored baptismal rites to every conceivable type of candidate: infant, sickly infant, illegitimate infant (none of whom would be asked any ritual questions); peasant, noble, old, young, male, female.
Other authors combined ethics lessons with personal religious experience like those stressed in the German variety of personalist and enthusiastic religion, Pietism, which was both competitor and complement to the Enlightenment. One such combination of the personal with the rationalistic was “Jesus, Our Example” (Jesus, Unser Vorbild) by the radical reformer Benedict Maria Werkmeister (1745–1823). It had scant precedent in Jewish or Christian ritual:
- A Christian’s joy and duty it is, Always and without conceit,
- To show love for one’s neighbor. Whoever he may be,
- A Moslem, Jew or Heathen, He is a man like me,
- And often better still than many a Christian.23
This Toleranzlied reminds one of the contemporary drama Nathan der Weise by Gotthold Ephraim Lessing (1729–1781), which pleads the equal moral value of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.
A book that Werkmeister edited included a civic hymn to exhort respect for oaths taken before the law and another to instill willingness to serve. The same book even included an animal rights anthem as well as two others warning against superstition. One of these ran:
- Too much credence neighbor Martin gives
- To sorcery and witchcraft and such things
- He paints three crosses on the wall
- To banish evil spirits, thus he thinks.
- Who would not laugh at that?24
The fifth stanza of the second hymn spoke of apparitions:
- No one, once Death has taken him away,
- Has been allowed to reappear on earth.
- Scripture and reason tell us: No!25
Werkmeister hoped that students would help to spread his ideas by making and distributing copies of hymns by him and other authors with the same ideals. Their hopes for Christian Enlightenment are summed up in a change proposed for the Litany of the Saints, which is part of the liturgy for the Resurrection (then celebrated on Holy Saturday morning) and some other solemn days of the church year: the Latin invocation “That you may bring low the enemies of Holy Church” should become “that you may give us the grace to love our enemies.”26
Other Enlightenment hymns offered “advice for the practical life”—something like the Farmer’s Almanac. A Catholic prayer book of 1791 included recommendations about what to do in a storm or fire and precautions to help preserve one’s health or alleviate pains and toothaches, reminding us that the Enlightenment approach to religious ritual was related to its call for universal secular elementary education.
To popularize the Enlightenment, 18th-century theologians sometimes combined the pietistic first-person singular anthropomorphic style of address to God with Newtonesque, academic, and Latin-root German in mixed metaphors such as this:
- My Jesus knows how to
- Add and multiply, Even where
- There are only zeroes.27
The marriage between rationalism and popular piety was not always comfortable. Paradoxically, the intended recovery of the classic simplicity of pre-Constantinian Christianity became an alliance with the new Constantines who were modernizing and centralizing the secular state. Christian rationalists often acquired the freedom to counsel a return to primitive Christianity by preaching support of enlightened despots such as Emperor Joseph II or Elector Maximilian III of Bavaria. These rulers wanted religion to foster vernacular culture and the loyalty of citizens equal before the law in a rationally organized, secular state. Uniform religious practices were mass media employed to teach statism to the mass of people just emerging from the divisive local and personal loyalties of feudalism.
Protestant Affinities for the Enlightenment and Pietism
The outwardly austere character of much Protestant worship and its architectural environment inculcated a mentality that was receptive to both the Enlightenment and its antipode, the celebration of an inner light as validator of the faith. Worship in the vernacular aided the rise of the nation-state as the dominant cultural power in Western civilization. The emphasis on preaching complemented the emphasis on reading scripture, implying that worshipers become literate and even sit still in pews to listen or study. On the other hand, the insistence on a direct personal relationship with God might orient believers away from words toward the Word manifested in movement, music, and emotional outpourings.
“Four walls and a sermon” was all that John Calvin (1509–1564), the paradigmatic Reformed theologian, had required of the worship service. He thought that human awe before an incomprehensible God and the message of the Gospel had been obscured by the Roman Church’s accretion of so many rites and ceremonies and works of music and art that amounted to pagan idolatry.28 Protestant orientation away from mystical ceremonies to Bible study and preaching had been facilitated by the invention of movable-type printing, which allowed families of relatively modest means to own a Bible. By reading scripture, individuals might “cut out the middle man” in order to receive divine revelation directly, without the intervention of a priest or the sacramental system. Such individualism suited the middle classes, rising by dint of their own merit from peasant subordination. They were predisposed against the barrage of signs and symbols that advertised feudal aristocracy and ecclesiastical hierarchy.
The reductionist tendencies in Protestant worship, particularly in its Calvinistic, Reformed branches, also had an affinity to the neopagan classicism of Enlightenment thinkers, who tended to equate elaborate religious ceremony with superstition. The rationalist view of an original impersonal monotheism was put well in a letter by the Deist John Toland:
The most ancient Egyptians, Persians, and Romans, the first Patriarchs of the Hebrews . . . had no sacred images or statues, no peculiar places or costly fashions of worship, the plain easiness of their religion being most agreeable to the simplicity of the divine nature, as indifference of place and time were the best expressions of infinite power and omnipresence.29
The affinity between Protestant and Enlightenment-Deist thinking can be seen in the preference for plain churches proportioned along the lines of ancient Greek or Roman temples. The Old South Meeting House (shown in Figure 3)—note that building was not called a church—in Boston documents the religious trends of the Age of Reason. Its simple design and décor eliminate distractions to hearing the word. A balcony brings all present within hearing distance of the pulpit. Clear glass windows let in light for the reading of scriptures or congregational hymnals. Everything is designed to facilitate the hearing and consideration of the word, rather than mystical ceremonies.
The legacy of the ancient synaxis (gathering) found expression in other ways in Protestant worship, where the preaching service became the norm. For the sermon, by virtue of its placement in the liturgy and sheer length, became the climax toward which the rest of worship moved.30 Whereas Lutherans and Anglicans retained the structure of the church year calendar and lectionary, the Reformed tradition virtually abandoned any connection between sermon and the old medieval liturgical year. In Calvin’s Geneva, the preacher expounded the running texts of the books of scripture, both Old Testament and New (lectio continua).31 Under this understanding of worship, all liturgy is shaped or determined by the biblical text being proclaimed, since the primary task of the worship leader is to interpret the Word. At its best, Reformed worship aims to emphasize the prophetic aspect of preaching. The utterance of the preacher is a supernatural act in which God again addresses humanity. At its worst, the service may function to manipulate the congregation into a receptive, agreeable frame of mind for the preacher’s personal agenda. The pulpit is central; the preacher’s chair dominates; baptismal font and altar table are lower and smaller. In all, absence of space for congregational movement indicates that the role of the laity is in fact limited and prescribed. In some cases, these factors combine to foster an understanding among laity of worship as something produced by the preacher rather than being the work of the Christian community, as intended by Reformation theology.
Yet despite the lionizing of preachers, there were democratic lessons implicit in Protestant worship. For its most memorable experience might be the actions of individuals giving testimony or singing together. Over the centuries, the volumes of printed sermons lie silent on dusty shelves, yet the hymnals are worn out with use every decade. If the Word and the Word alone is the vehicle of grace, and if placing the congregation’s response to the Word lies in the singing of the chorale rather than in the liturgical action, then the sacraments appear almost as a confirmatory appendage to the sermon. Therefore, analogous to the Catholic or Orthodox liturgies, the most heartfelt aspect of hearing the Word again became less verbal and more musical.
The British Isles in the 18th Century
The Commonwealth and Protectorate government that followed the execution of Charles I (r. 1649–1660) had favored a more strictly Protestant service of preaching and teaching in a plain hall stripped of distractions. Ceremonial would be minimal and music restricted to metrical psalm singing. Aristocrats and, it appears, many common folk liked a liturgy that appealed to diverse human faculties, differentiated from common speech, and employing elevated media such as artistic music in surroundings replete with signs and symbols. After the restoration of the English monarchy, annual communion in the Established Church became from 1673 a political test used for determining eligibility for the privilege of holding public office, and this remained the case until 1829. (Similar tests were enforced in most European countries.) The liturgy itself remained a compromise: in outline a mass in English, yet theologically a Protestant Lord’s Supper. Some scholars favor the view that “the strength of the Anglican reaction of 1660 lay not exclusively, or even principally, in the response of a gentry who craved the return of a hierarchical Church which would shore up a hierarchical government and society, but in the popularity of traditional religious forms at all levels of society.”32
Compared with the elaborate rubrics of the pre-Reformation Sarum liturgy, which recommended music for each feast in detail, the 1662 Book of Common Prayer hardly touches on this matter. Even so, custom continued to dictate the observance of holy days and singular occasions with special ceremony and traditional musical adornment. The Sunday morning worship was commonly called “Divine Service.” It included the Order for Morning Prayer; the Litany of confession, petition, and intercessions; and the ante-communion. In most churches, the service went on to communion itself only a few times per year. The intention was to highlight worship as an act of the community, not of the priest, and to reserve communion for special occasions.
Beside that mainstream many alternatives flourished. After the “Glorious Revolution” of 1688 drove out the Catholic James II of the Stuart family, those clergy who refused to swear allegiance to the new Protestant dynasty became known as “Non-Jurors.” They produced their own liturgies along more “catholic” lines, even separating matins and lauds from the Divine Service. Following a number of compromises among the various factions, their 1718 liturgy resembled that of the compromise reached after the death of Henry VIII back in 1547. Further controversies erupted over significant details that signaled the political and cultural wars of the day. “Usagers” wanted a return pre-Reformation liturgical practices such asa “mixed chalice,” wherein water was added to the wine, and the liturgy included prayers for the dead. “Non-usagers” avoided such “papist” remnants in favor of Protestant theology but remained loyal to the Scottish Stuart dynasty that continued to offer Roman Catholic pretenders to the throne until and beyond their final military defeat in 1746.33
Meanwhile, the incipient revival of plainsong was critical to continuity in liturgical tradition. Traditional musical practice, such as accompaniment of certain chants by the organ, was a matter of the tradition, not spelled out in the Prayer Book or rubrics, but presumed among persons trained in the craft of making music. Choral services resumed in Saint Paul’s Cathedral in London in the 1690s.
In the 18th century, evangelical movements in the Church of England favored liturgical simplification, eschewing anything that resembled the sacramental system of the Roman Church. They emphasized the acceptance of Christ as personal Savior and de-emphasized the role of the church as mediator. In the performance of the liturgy they favored a greater role overall for the congregation, including responses by them, rather than the choir. Despite the “low church” taste of the Evangelicals, their emotional intensity could lead to the artistic enhancement favored by some of the later Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement traditionalists, such as John Henry Newman (1801–1890), who was both raised as an Evangelical and musically sophisticated..
Yet, in the 18th century, worship in the Church of England had become sermon-centered, clearing the way for the rationalistic discourses favored as centerpieces of the service during the Age of Reason. Controversies over the form of the Sunday service reflected the political contest between parliamentary and monarchical parties. The former tended to see religious worship as an occasion for instruction, affecting a Lockean behavioralist psychology and contract political theory. The latter desired contact with the incomprehensible sublime, reflecting either a desire for intense personal religious experience or organic continuity with hallowed tradition. The ceremonies and music were reduced to serve intelligibility of the text. Still setting the standard for music was John Merbecke’s adaptation of the plainchant for the 1549 Prayer Book: for each syllable, only one note!34
The Church of England in the Gerogean Era moved in a latudinarian direction that, avoiding liturgical extremes that might lead to civil discord and thus upset the pursuit of power and wealth by leaders of the industrial revolution at home and in the growing empire overseas. Within the church, economic factors such as changes in the value of money allowed only niggardly old salaries that could not maintain a singer fulltime. Salaries in the capital were a multiple of those in provincial cathedrals, where, in consequence, performances were miserable.
Parallel to the 18th-century tendency for hymn tunes to adopt a regular meter and simpler melody line, Anglican chants were also smoothed out, leaving few of the grace notes or passing tones that had once been used by professionals. Differentiations became evident between cathedrals and parish churches as well as between Catholic and Protestant tendencies in the liturgy. The extent of the decline of musical quality in the cathedrals is hard to discern. During the course of the 18th century, cathedral practices tended to become the norm for parishes. By the early 19th century, the romantic movementled to the exploration of the older Latin liturgy as a way of rebelling against an increasingly commercially oriented and secular society, some of whose leaders favored disestablishment of the Church of England, especially in Ireland. Rising economic resources in London and market towns favored the support of trained musical leadership. In the Reformed Churches, those influenced by Calvinistic theology, a psalmodist or precentor, who led the musical part of the Reformed church service, sometimes became an advocate of musical literacy among the general populace. In colonial America the composer William Billings (1746–1800) was a leader of the “singing school” movement that began in New England but persists today mainly in the rural South through shape-note singing, sometimes called after its best-known songbook, The Sacred Harp. The controversy over whether “regular singing” from musical notation usurps congregational participation continues to the present day.
Liturgical issues were complex in the small Episcopal Church in Scotland, which is part of the Anglican Communion. The established Kirk of Scotland is Calvinist, influenced by disputes between juring clergy, who swore allegiance to the English king, Hanoverians, and the nonjuring, who were loyal to the Stuarts, governed by the successors of a remnant of bishops. Juring clergy were allowed to worship publicly in qualified chapels but belonged to no episcopal jurisdiction. In parishes, liturgical practice of the juring faction approximated that in England, that is, services were chanted. After repeal of penal laws against Non-Jurors in 1792, reconciliation began in 1803. Liturgical and musical practices followed those in juring parishes. The Non-Jurors were influenced by the drier style of the established Presbyterian Church, whose music was metrical psalms.
The Toleration Act of 1712 had secured the right of Episcopalians in Scotland to follow Anglican forms in spite of the Presbytery. Scottish Episcopalians were proud of their unique heritage, not wishing to be considered a type of heathen Anglican. An English visitor to Saint Paul’s Church in Aberdeen about 1730 reported that when the (Hanoverian) king was prayed for, “men and women set themselves about some trivial action, as taking snuff, &c. to show their dislike, and signify to each other they were all of one mind,” and despite loud responses of the congregation to the rest of the liturgy, not a single voice was heard in response to that bidding.35 There were organs, choirs, precentors, and pay for musicians from the merchant class, as in England, whereas the Presbyterians abhorred such “popery” in their services.
The Anglican Church in the colonies that became the United States was in a position analogous to that of the Scottish Episcopalians. It followed English parish practice, omitting reference to specifically British festivals, eventually replacing them with American celebrations, such as Thanksgiving. In prosperous coastal cities such as Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and Charleston, there was some familiarity with English cathedral practice. The first musicians and organs came from England to a situation with less choral singing, more reading, and simple chanting. The repertory was eclectic, drawing in part from other North American denominations, including the Moravian Brethren and Roman Catholics. The first bishop of the Episcopal Church was ordained by the bishop of Aberdeen, Scotland.
During the late 18th century, a movement toward more frequent communion arose among the Evangelicals and was in the next century vigorously pursued by the Tractarians, who were scholars at Oxford University desirous of reviving traditions of the of pre-Reformantion Catholic Church. At first, these Oxford movement men were staunch defenders of the Prayer Book as it stood, but liturgical alteration soon flourished. It became common to publish the Book of Common Prayer rite of Holy Communion with interpolations and additions from the Roman Missal in English. Demands from Anglo-Catholics for revision became louder in the light of controversies and even litigation over ritual.36
The issues of ecclesiastical discipline and liturgical revision thus became almost inextricably interwoven with secular political issues. The Erastian—state-supported and controlled—ideal of uniform public worship saw it as the glue that held civil society together. Alleged incidents of indiscipline in public worship signaled the depth of feelings involved, particularly when the question of disestablishment was raised, and especially concerning the Church of Ireland, a publicly supported member of the Anglican communion in an overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation.. Issues deriving from that dispute are still alive, particularly among English-speaking Roman Catholics in America, who have tended to pattern their attitudes toward worship by ideas derived from the artistically and musically silent liturgy of the very political and verbal Irish Roman Catholics.37 As Irish Catholics saw it, , even their rightful heritage of ancient churches had been confiscated or destroyed to support an alien cult.38 When freed from the trammels of the old country, Irish Americans soon sought to demonstrate their faith and civic presence by constructing some of the nation’s most magnificent church buildings. Saint Patrick’s Cathedral in New York, perhaps the best example, was intended to be the most magnificent building in the city, which it was until the age of modern skyscrapers. It was commissioned in 1853 as a witness against the tidal wave of anti-Catholic nativist prejudice, laid on the drawing board just after the peak of penniless peasant immigration from Ireland. It remains a gothic assertion of the supernatural set against the rationalistic, geometrical styles favored for the towering temples of mammon that later surrounded it. St. Patrick’s, like other marvelous worship edifices, remains a public demonstration of the vitality of Roman Catholicism in the United States. Figure 4 shows the cardinal archbishop of New York and his retinue in procession entering the cathedral festooned with red, white, and blue, flanked by an honor guard of the Knights of Columbus, a vast Catholic fraternal and service organization, in their colorful regalia. During a period of anti-Catholic, anti-immigrant nativist populism, the Knights were named after the Italian navigator who reached the Western Hemisphere in the service of crusading Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, well over a century before any Protestant settlement. The retention of Old World pomp and the Latin liturgical language also served to assert that the Roman church is supra-national and politically powerful. Traffic on Fifth Avenue pauses for the procession, which is routinely guarded by New York City police, historically dominated by loyal American Irish Catholics.
Reasons of the Heart
The most important revolution in worship can be expressed in one word: intensity. As we have noticed, the Deistic Enlightenment, which viewed God as an impersonal engineer, was complemented by its apparent opposite, an “Inner Light” theology that pursued the experience of Jesus Christ as personal Savior. Both frequently—though not always—objected to elaborate ceremonies and clerical authority. The difference lay in their worship style as much as in their theology. Dissatisfied with the dry Deism of natural religion and the bureaucratic routine of established state churches, alternative leaders arose intending to reach a sense of intimacy with the person of Jesus Christ. Baptists and Evangelicals everywhere, Pietists among Lutherans, Methodists among Anglicans, and diverse free-church groups all shared a continuing Protestant antipathy to “popish” ceremonial in favor of an attempt to recover the simple agape (love feast) of early Christians.
The Roman Church had its analogous movements toward heartfelt religion. Successors of Jansenism and Quietism (sometimes labeled “Catholic Calvinism) continued to question the tendency toward an aesthetic religion of devotions and works encouraged by the Jesuits. These progressive educators used every conceivable medium in their efforts to touch the human heart through education that appealed to every human faculty or retreats intended to facilitate a life-changing experience like Ignatius Loyola’s experience at Manresa. Impressive celebrations were calculated to envelop the worshipers with a sense of divine presence that outrivaled courtly pomp. Meanwhile, devotion to the Sacred Heart and saints, so repugnant to Jansenists, also encouraged worshipers to feel a personal relationship with their Savior. Although these many and diverse movements usually intended to revitalize the established churches, they sometimes wound up challenging their authority.
“Inner light” is a synonym for “enthusiasm,” the literal indwelling of God that was the goal of many Protestant movements of the 17th and 18th centuries. Yet “enthusiast” was sometimes hurled as a reproach, as though such worship was abandoning divinely sanctioned order for capricious chaos. “Inner light” churches may at first glance seem to be unstructured in their worship, but their ritual does follow a pattern, although the allocation of time to its various components may vary considerably from service to service. The sacrament, an outward sign of inward grace, is taken to be an individual spiritual experience or sharing of fellow feeling among those who have known that experience, rather than the prescribed reception of elements through the mediation of a specially ordained priest.39
A pattern for worship applicable across denominational boundaries may be found in the passage in the biblical book of Isaiah where the actual felt presence of the Almighty overpowered those at prayer in the Temple. In the gathering there was an expectation of immanent direct divine revelation to worshipers (6:1–4); penitence and confession of unworthiness (6:5); assurance of cleansing and forgiveness (6:6–8); new receptivity to the voice of God (6:8); and the human response (6:9b) of turning one’s life over to the Lord, “Here I am; send me.”40 Of course, “high church” worshipers find the same immanence in their elaborate liturgies. Hence, although dogma may divide, reasons of the heart are common to all people seeking to express the ineffable. In order to carry on the charisma of the initial encounter, the leaders have always developed forms of worship that seek to make an occasion for that “charism,” “inner light,” “enthusiasm,” “ecstasy,” or “rapture” to be widely and permanently available. High culture, especially music, aims to expand the scope and extend the durability of such intensity. In short, the Christian Church in its liturgies may be seen as aiming to institutionalize reasons of the heart. Hence the habitual distinction between “high” and “low” churches may be only a presumption inherited from theological tradition. For example, John Henry Newman was brought up an Evangelical in the Church of England, was taunted as “that Methodist” in his thirties because of his spellbinding pulpit oratory, passed through high church Anglicanism, and eventually became a Roman Catholic cardinal who spoke of doctrine as his first principle. Although his biographers have been zealous to insulate him against the label “Romantic,” which colors the Victorian era, Cardinal Newman, who was a fine musician, chose for his prelatial coat of arms the motto Cor ad cor loquitur—“Heart speaks to heart.”41
Indeed, the institutionalization of personal experience is often problematic. For example, the Puritans in North America originally insisted on individual conversion as a test for church membership. When, however, church membership became itself a test for citizenship in a large and diverse secular political order, the Puritans found themselves in the dilemma of the Church of England, whose rites they had scorned as empty tokens of a political regime that they despised. The First Great Awakening that began in 18th-century New England was an effort to recover the conversion experience. Yet, intense preaching and public conversion is only one way to maintain a sense of contact with the divine. Such transcendence of ordinary experience may be the austere silence of the Quakers or glossolalia of Pentecostals. Successful institutionalization of contact with the divine presence usually requires a combination of poetic words, skilled rhetoric, and music. Central European Pietism, which began as private Bible study and prayer in groups active within the Evangelical (Lutheran) state church, flourished publicly in hymns by writers such as Matthias Claudius (1740–1815). He wrote the lyrics for popular chorales that expressed a quasi-physical sharing in Jesus’s bloody wounds. Also influenced were products by local craftsmen, such as statues by Polish woodcarvers or music by German Kantoren such as Johann Sebastian Bach (1685–1750). His cantatas, which are the direct heirs of melismatic, soloistic Gregorian chant Graduals, grew out of the Lutheran propers sung between the scripture readings for a particular Sunday of the liturgical year. Florid arias setting pietistic texts about “Jesus and me” amplify the emotional response to a biblical text, by translating it into music, the language of the heart. Thereby the composer converted the dramatic impact of neopagan operatic theater to Christian interior religious experience.42
Pietism influenced the Moravian Brethren, a communal settlement that developed a complex liturgy with appropriate music for each service, analogous to the medieval monastic office. The Moravians exerted enormous influence through their hymnody and the experiences of visitors to the estates of Count Nikolaus von Zinzendorf (1700–1760). He insisted on sharing the members’ personal lives in a microcosm of the Christianities, an “ecclesiola”—a model church—drawn from many denominations regardless of doctrinal detail but dependent on a sense of personal intimacy with the Lord. The purpose of the community was to establish a foretaste of heaven on earth by demonstrating a community of love among representatives of all Christianities. Educated visitors sometimes scoffed at the mawkish sentimentality of Moravian hymnody, full of “hideous repetition” of references to Jesus as a “little lambkin,” in whose “pierced side it is our only wish to dwell as in the womb of our mothers.” Sophisticates found the Moravians a curious mixture of repression and expression. Unusual among Protestants, they employed vivid pictures, equivalent in style to Roman Catholic holy pictures in baroque churches. The Moravians’ religion was the opposite of rationalistic. They refused to pray to the Father as too remote a figure without the specific mediation of a living human person, his Son, with whom a human being could identify.43
Stifling as the Moravians’ communal life may have seemed to some observers, they pointed in a new direction not only among central European Protestants, but also for some of the most sophisticated representatives of Western civilization. Theologies of the heart had ready affinity with the secular philosophical teachings of Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–1778) in the French-speaking world. The great German Sturm und Drang poet and literary leader of the reaction against rationalism, Friedrich Schiller (1759–1805), was raised a Pietist. As an adult, he translated his heartfelt religion into a plea that education, indeed society itself, should recognize that the feelings are as necessary as the senses and the intellect to the attainment of full humanity.44 He became a virtual prophet who channeled the communal practices of Pietism into the most important cultural revolution of modern times, Romanticism. The greatest Romantic theologian, Friedrich Schleiermacher (1768–1834), was also raised a Pietist. His insights about religion as more than a set of theological propositions converted Romanticism into a weapon on behalf of religious culture that commanded respect from the intellectual class.
The Moravians also influenced a zealous Anglican priest, John Wesley (1703–1791), during his missionary voyage to America. Returning to England, he yearned to foster a more intense sacramental life in his church. In London he frequented meetings of a “religious society” which included both earnest Anglicans and Moravian Brethren organized in bands who celebrated a version of the early Christian agape or love feast. Wesley’s Journal for May 24, 1738, records this: “In the evening I went very unwillingly to a society in Aldersgate Street, where one was reading Luther’s Preface to the Epistle to the Romans. About a quarter before nine, while he was describing the change which God works in the heart through faith in Christ, I felt my heart strangely warmed. I felt I did trust in Christ, Christ alone for salvation, and an assurance was given me that he had taken away my sins, even mine, and saved me from the law of sin and death.”45 Through fervent preaching and hymns, Wesley spread an invitation for others to share this experience, intending to enlarge the appeal of the Church of England. Like all places of worship outside the Established Church, Methodist preaching houses could not be called churches, only chapels, even though the building and congregation might be larger than those of the parish church in the same town. By 1791 Methodism became effectively separate from its parent denomination, abandoning the attempt to remodel Anglicanism and retaining a style of worship marked by vigorous congregational singing. The essence of Wesleyan Methodism seems to be avoidance of the sort of smug routine religiosity so repugnant in the likes of Mr. Collins in Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice (1813). He was “attentive and conciliatory towards everybody, especially toward those to whom he owes his preferment.”
Perennial controversy surrounds the social effect of active churchgoing. Some critics see worship as an opiate of the people diverting energies that might otherwise become a revolutionary explosion. Others take the celebration of Jesus’s life as participation in his proactive compassion. Did Wesleyan sermonizing and hymn singing among newly industrialized populations keep their minds off the need for social reform? Robert R. Palmer writes:
The effects of Methodism, however, were by no means conservative. Men taught to read in Methodist Sunday Schools, or to speak up in Wesleyan meetings, often figured as leaders in radical clubs. Home missions, Bible reading, and itinerant preaching, in both England and Scotland, offered a competing program to that of the French Revolution calling the established order into question.46
Prime Minister William Pitt is said to have feared the effect of the Methodist teaching and worship more than the blunt propaganda of outright rebels. A similar continuing controversy in America concerns the role of Christian worship—generally evangelical—in the life of slaves. Did all that singing and preaching of humility serve to create docile “happy darkies,” or was Christianity an impregnable hope, where “getting happy” in church amounted to a rehearsal for personal assertiveness and the lyrics of Negro spirituals sometimes gave the actual code words of Underground Railway escape routes?47
In the 19th century, the Tractarians and the Oxford movement would make a fresh attempt to reinvigorate the Church of England. Like Wesley, they intended to apply the enthusiasm of their evangelical backgrounds to the revitalization of an Established Church that sometimes seemed more of a political formality than an instrument of worship. John Henry Newman made intensity of preaching and worship a badge of faith. John Keble (1792–1866) spoke of the liturgy in erotic language as the locus of thoughts that could not be expressed otherwise. Anglo-Catholicism was at first hardly attractive to the social and political elite, who considered religion only a routine matter. With the increasing adoption of “catholic practices,” an effort was made to share the beauty of the restored liturgy to reconnect with the lower classes, who led dreary lives in the new industrial cities. In order to illustrate this social philosophy, the gothic revival architect Augustus Welby Pugin (1812–1852) published a book of paired facing pictures, Contrasts: Or a Parallel between the Noble Edifices of the Middle Ages, and the Corresponding Buildings of the Present Day; Showing the Present Decay of Taste.48
This polemical book, as seen in Figure 5, resembled a religious and architectural version of the social criticism found in the novels by his great Victorian contemporary, Charles Dickens (1812–1870). Pugin’s engravings argued that urban public space and inspiring buildings dedicated to Christian worship and social service had formerly been common property for all people to share and enjoy. Now, the tradition of worship and service was being abandoned, and the built heritage allowed to decay. Profiteers rule, and the people’s patrimony is squandered. Under industrial capitalism the finer things in life were available only to those with money to buy them. The later Arts and Crafts movement also intended the spiritual benefit of bringing less sermonizing and more imaginative riches to the populace of Victorian England.49 The Oxford movement is often reckoned a prop of the Tory political order; its inspiration, however, amounted to a religious revolution driven by energies similar to those driving the revolutions on the Continent, where socialists adapted attitudes ingrained through ages of Christian religious practices to serve a new earthly agenda.50
Meanwhile, John Henry Newman and the successive generations of Anglo-Catholics developed their enthusiasm into a scholarly quest for an organic link to the past that they discerned in Roman Catholic liturgical traditions. During an 1833 visit to Sicily, young Mr. Newman, an evangelical since age 15, observed that the Roman Church had scraped up all the lore of ancient paganism, as seen in the Cathedral of Siracusa (Syracuse) built into a pre-Christian temple (see Figure 6). Although amazed by Rome, he still found the Roman Church idolatrous. Soon, however, Newman passed beyond the neo-medievalism of Pugin and the Tractarians, and chose to emulate the very Italian Saint Philip Neri (1512–1595). After an ecstatic conversion experience, Neri had inaugurated the 16th-century equivalent of entertainment evangelism in the form of the oratorio as a supplement to the Catholic liturgy in Rome. Neri’s outreach methods in the Oratory, the church-like auditorium where sacred musical theater pieces named after the place were staged, became a pattern for the popular appeal of the baroque Catholicism. In Newman’s case, the somewhat spare hall-like Oratory in industrial Birmingham became the setting for his preaching and liturgical reform. In London, the baroque, even Byzantine, splendor and fine music of the Brompton Oratory incarnates this eminent Victorian’s enthusiasm for a spiritual reality anterior to the religion of the monarchy. Similarly, the family descendants of John and Charles Wesley turned to the high art of liturgical splendor. Samuel Sebastian Wesley (1810–1876) was reckoned the finest British composer and organist of his time.51
In the American South, where John Wesley had experienced failure as an Anglican pastor, an important mass movement of heartfelt religious worship was the First Great Awakening, which had begun in New England in the 1740s. The founding preachers, Jonathan Edwards (1703–1758) and Wesley’s colleague George Whitefield (1714–1770), discouraged dramatic preaching, bodily excitement, and groaning. Yet, there was always an expectation of an outward sign of inward grace, different from the decorum expected in established churches, where even in the American colonies worship had slipped into the servitude of being merely a token of secular citizenship or social respectability. Soon the Great Awakening spread to the South, where it continues to have a dramatic impact, not only on southern Protestantism, but also on American culture and therefore on the world. The American mutations of Protestantism might be compared to the inculturation of Roman Catholic religious practices during the European Middle Ages or the Iberian colonies in Central and South America.
English settlers in the American South had at first tried to repeat the Anglican establishment that eventually became the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America. However, there was no resident bishop to ordain or confirm. Outside Virginia, in the Carolinas and Georgia, the South was sparsely settled. So there were gaps in the parish coverage, leaving the field open to itinerant preachers, who presented a challenge to the authority of the Anglican Church. Baptists and later Methodists called one another brother and sister and might include slaves in their religious family, offering an alternative to the hierarchical social system favored by the planter families. Many southerners also believed that faith and learning were in conflict. This was far cry from the New England Puritans, who established Harvard College just a few years after arrival. Southerners concentrated on issues of personal holiness, often condemning dancing and drinking, attacking obvious evils rather than analyzing profound issues. Preaching was extemporaneous and colloquial. Sometimes even a church building was lacking. There might be only a temporary gathering whose atmosphere could be all the more fervent through the pressure of a unique, fleeting opportunity proffered to people forced otherwise to live a difficult life virtually alone. So, despite the outward simplicity of church organization and leadership, the emotional life of the church was intense. The sacraments became religious drama. There were river baptisms and communal celebrations of the Lord’s Supper. Worship featured emotional release encouraged by enthusiastic singing and the joyful tears of conversion experiences.
Outsiders could easily misunderstand all of this. Pastor Charles Woodmason, a traveling Anglican pastor working in the Carolina backcountry in the 18th century, looked down on these American nonconformists, saying:
The reason my congregation here is not larger, I am told, is because there are a gang of Baptists or “new lights” across the river, to whom many on that side resort. And on Swift’s creek, ten miles below, a Methodist has set up to read and preach every Sunday. Both of them are low and exceedingly ignorant persons. Yet, the lower class chooses to resort to them rather than to hear a well-connected discourse. All this obliges me to repeat the liturgy by heart and to use no prayerbook but the Bible when I read the lessons. I have all the services and the whole office at my fingers ends. I also give an extempore prayer before sermon, but cannot yet venture to give extempore discourses, though certainly could perform beyond any of these poor fools.52
The new religious style of the 18th-century Great Awakening transformed the encounter between America’s black and white races because social as well as religious differences were disparaged in a system that placed all Christians on the same level. Evangelical Christianity often welcomed all kinds and conditions of people, including African American preachers, who sometimes became leaders of Baptist and Methodist religious communities. On-the-spot conversion to Christianity replaced the long process of instruction that previously had been required of slaves. And literacy was not required for evangelical conversion. Many evangelicals were opposed to slavery itself. In the early 19th century, however, American white evangelicals would largely back away from anti-slavery positions and African American evangelicals essentially went on a separate track. They would understandably have little interest in a God who approved of slavery. In the 19th century, American Protestants continued their gradual proportional move away from the “liturgical” churches when a new wave of awakening brought forth hundreds of intentional communities, some of whom became the Latter Day Saints (Mormons), Adventists, Disciples of Christ, and Shakers. These small sects grew into major forms of American religion. Although by 1850 the single largest church body in the United States was Roman Catholicism, the enthusiasm-based Methodists and Baptists were the largest Protestant denominations, with the Baptists outnumbering the Methodists in the 20th century. The latter had by now dispensed with Wesley’s expectations of regular Morning Prayer and Holy Communion as provided for in his Sunday Service of the Methodists (1784); a more freely constructed preaching service took over, even though the less frequent celebrations of the Lord’s supper might go by the book. Religious freedom and absence of established churches in the United States encouraged an entrepreneurial spirit of competition, revivalism, and organization for specific moral issues. The new religious style of the 19th century seemed increasingly based on democratic values, which the Methodists and Baptists possessed in their church polity, often along with an opportunity for individuals to speak up within the worship service. In their ministers, they wanted enthusiastic preachers more than erudition.
A new burst of activity in the first third of the 19th century was amplified by Methodist circuit riders who brought together families on the lonely frontier in “revival meetings” that were a rare opportunity for sociability afforded to frontier people, including young people seeking a spouse. An older contemporary of Abraham Lincoln in the backwoods of the new Midwest and the upper South was Peter Cartwright (1785–1872). He was a Methodist circuit rider whose autobiography reports a revival in Kentucky:
A shed was erected that might shelter 5,000 people from wind and rain. Ten, twenty, and sometimes thirty ministers of different denominations would come together and preach night and day, sometimes for four or five days together. And indeed, I have known these camp meetings to last three or four weeks. And great good resulted from them. I have seen more than a hundred sinners fall like dead men under one powerful sermon. And I have seen and heard more than five hundred Christians all shouting aloud the high praises of God at once. Some sinners mocked. Some of the old, dry professors opposed. Some of the old Presbyterians preached against this exercise. But still the work went on and spread in almost every direction, gathering additional force until our country seemed all coming home to God.53
In the age of Andrew Jackson, a self-made man and the first president from west of the Appalachians, as the United States moved both westward and toward an urban-industrial society, American evangelical Protestantism found a populist paragon in Charles Grandison Finney (1792–1875). Initially apprenticed to become a lawyer, he defined modern high-pressure evangelism, which values academic learning less than the effective manipulation of the emotions. An immensely important man in American history, by any standard, his revivals were a powerful force in the rising antislavery movement and in the growth of urban evangelism.54
Finney organized protracted meetings that ran for several weeks. Advance teams publicized the coming revival and set up prayer meetings, sometimes exclusively for women. His meeting featured an “anxious bench.” Anyone concerned about the state of his or her soul could come to a front pew where he or she would be addressed personally and become the subject of public prayer. In the spirit of Methodist Arminian-style theology that softened the doctrine of strict predestination by teaching that one might actively cooperate with divine grace, Finney believed that a successful revival not only was a miracle of God’s grace but also depended on the right use of the appropriate opportunities. Innovative worship techniques were needed in order to keep the message before the world.
Finney developed his methods in the raw cities along the new Erie Canal that connected the Midwest with New York City. This area of New York State was soon nicknamed the “burned-over district” because it became the center of a firestorm of new movements of folk religion that reached from Midwestern cities like Detroit and Cleveland; back east to Boston, New York, and Philadelphia; and overseas to the industrial suburbs of Birmingham and Manchester. Parallel utopian, socialistic, and millenarian movements included the Adventists, some of whom settled along waterways in Michigan, or the Latter Day Saints, who immigrated to the farthest frontier. He became the second president of the abolitionist Oberlin College in Ohio.
Using language that uneducated listeners could “understand without the use of a dictionary,” Finney offered direct and forceful preaching. Sensing the plasticity of modern urban culture, he declared that it would be impossible for the church to gain the attention of the world without exciting preaching and sufficient novelty to get the public ear. He advocated persuading sinners the way a shrewd attorney approaches a jury of ordinary folk making a life-or-death decision.55
Among Finney’s auditors in upstate New York was a precocious girl, Elizabeth Cady (1815–1902)—later married to a judge Stanton. She became a leading abolitionist, temperance advocate, and a founder of modern feminism. Herself used to commanding an audience, she recalled Finney as a pulpit orator who, as a terrifier of human souls, has proved almost the equal of Savanarola. “I can see him now, his great eyes rolling round the congregation, and his arms flying in the air like a windmill. One evening he described Hell and Devil so vividly that the picture glowed before my eyes in the dark for months afterwards. On another occasion, when describing the damned as wandering in the Inferno, and inquiring their way through its avenues, he suddenly pointed with his finger, exclaiming, ‘There! Do you not see them?’ and I actually jumped up in church and looked around.”56
Ever full of himself, Finney took possibly justifiable credit for influencing revivalism even among Roman Catholics, whose practices he thought delusory. One of his converts from 1838, Clarence A. Walworth (1820–1900), passed through Episcopalianism, eventually becoming a priest of the Redemptorist Order.57 The Redemptorists specialized in missionary work, parish missions, and retreats—all characterized by vivid preaching. In 1858, with Isaac T. Hecker (1819–1888), formerly a keen Methodist and now also a Redemptorist, Walworth broke off to found a new American missionary order, the Paulists. This first generation of American Catholic intellectuals sought stratagems for outflanking the Yankee Protestants and their pretensions to reach down to ignorant slaves while these same Protestants were contemning Catholic immigrants as witless dupes in a game of sacramental hocus-pocus.58
Similar to contemporary Anglo-Catholic Oxford movement men in Britain, the Paulist Fathers sought to complement homiletic strength by the panoply of the Roman liturgy as a conduit of truth and beauty, the necessary path received from our fathers as the way to full life lived in God’s grace. Meanwhile, some of the best and brightest young Protestant Americans were going abroad to study in Continental universities or conservatories and returning to prove the value of their overseas experience. European-educated composers wrote music such as John Knowles Paine’s grandiose, Latin-text Mass in D (1867) so that Boston Brahmins might be edified by spiritual encounters in concert halls, new temples of Protestant cultural achievement.. Museums and concert halls were similar to the permanent institutions built around the sites of encampments, manifestations of Inner Light spilling over into public good.
Yet, Hecker and the Paulists strove to turn the tables. They argued that Protestant theology, being based on the presumption of human depravity, was unworthy of a free people seeking transcendental achievement. Even the invitation to human cooperation in the work of salvation, as in the Arminian spin that Methodism put on Calvinism, was viewed as inferior to Catholicism, which was declared superior not only in numerical plurality among denominations, but in quality of culture. For example, as prominent Protestant churches filled great gothic-style edifices with the finest professionally led sacred music, the Paulist Choir of men and boys in New York aimed to demonstrate that the true locus of human achievement apt to a meritocracy was derived from the Roman Catholic liturgy. In short, all major denominations adapted their worship to the burgeoning American cultural marketplace that its best observer, Alexis de Tocqueville, found so healthy.59
Finney’s rivals and successors kept the fire glowing. Their enthusiasm was enshrined in all aspects of church life, which became the center of American communities. Moments of conversion in a temporary meeting spilled over into permanent activism.
The evangelicals logically encouraged lay participation in all aspects of the work, including preaching. Some of the temporary encampments became permanent institutions that offered opportunities for ongoing study of all aspects of the Bible and the development of every human faculty. Such development of the whole person naturally evolved beyond unsophisticated forms of praise to embrace theological, literary, artistic, and musical excellence. Some of these educational efforts, aimed at both the increase of personal holiness and the amplification of ecstatic preaching to the world, turned into colleges and universities as well as centers of religiously based leisure, education, and entertainment such as those founded by Methodists at Chautauqua, New York, and Bay View, Michigan, among many. These and other encampments sometimes became permanent settlements that evolved into communities with their own railroad stations and permanent buildings devoted to study and practice of the intellectual disciplines and artistry, such as classical music, related to preaching and singing. The earnest zeal and hungry sociability of the original campground worship services spilled over into voluntary extensions of worship that have endured longer than the chapel attendance originally required at the dozens of denominational colleges such as Oberlin and Otterbein in Ohio or Carleton in Minnesota.
In short, there was a long-term trend toward enrichment of worship in denominations that had seemed most opposed to grand buildings, elaborate ceremonies, and sophisticated music but did have a respect for, as Luther had phrased it, “a priesthood of each individual Christian.” This belief entailed respect for all talents as vocations, whether ecclesiastically ordained or not. As a result, Protestant denominations that had originally eschewed outward splendor lest it interfere with the Inner Light now erected impressive worship spaces. Their congregations might also develop excellent public church music as an outward sign of divine indwelling. Thus the worship programs of even “nonliturgical” Protestant churches in America often became centers of intense musical activities, mounting high-quality productions of concert music even in isolated towns, whereas the Catholics even in a metropolis were often satisfied with a perfunctory performance of a fixed ritual. Ironically, opera, that offspring of Counter-Reformation “papist” culture, flourishes in the early 2000s at the fundamentalist Bob Jones University. Although women seem always to form the majority of active members in any church, they were not often able to become Protestant leaders of worship, despite the egalitarian implications of Inner Light theology. Yet many spoke out against slavery, for temperance, or claimed the right to preach. Though excluded from politics and commerce, women might more often define themselves in religious terms than did men.
Among protestant churches, heirs of the Reformation, congregational singing remained the principal way in which the people participated in the service.60 Hymn singing bloomed in Lutheran Germany, where a distinctive tradition of church music was already in place. The relatively conservative nature of Lutheran liturgical revision facilitated the use of new hymns because there were already texts in the inherited liturgy that were not excerpts from scripture. In general, the Lutheran Sunday morning service, like that of the Church of England, consisted of the ante-communion that corresponded to the Roman Catholic mass up to the offertory. Since the Lutheran Sunday service retained the pre-Reformation selection of epistles and gospel, the chorales, cantatas, and voluntaries tended to be selected in relation to those readings, thus becoming “proper” to particular Sundays or festivals. Luther, who loved the Latin liturgy and its music, desired to retain much of this heritage while developing vernacular congregational participation. He saw no conflict between high arts and popular participation. Based on “the example of prophets and kings in the Old Testament, who praised God with singing and playing, with hymns and the sound of all manner of stringed instruments,” he favored the use of all kinds of instruments in church.61 His theology facilitated the integral development of congregational chorales and art music such as the organ preludes or cantatas composed on chorales by the town Kantor, the best known of whom was Johann Sebastian Bach. Many of Bach’s most astounding compositions are based on the congregational chorales of the evangelical (Lutheran) Church that were derived from Gregorian chant and have remained in Lutheran hymnals to the present day. Interpolated with liturgical and biblical texts, Bach often employed sentimental pietistic lyrics that personalize theological concepts derived from the scripture. Both the roots in Roman Catholic liturgical tradition and empathy with heartfelt common experience are evident in his cantatas, such as “Come Now, Healer of Us Heathens” (Nun komm der Heiden Heiland) for Advent and “Christ Lay Shackled in Death’s Prison” (Christ lag in Todesbanden) for Easter.62
The Lutheran exploitation of the possibilities of chorale tunes was analogous to the medieval development of polyphony out of cantus firmi excerpted from Gregorian chant or popular melodies of the day such as “L’homme armé.” Despite the great Johann Sebastian Bach’s being bullied by his clerical employers, the Lutheran, indeed overall Protestant doctrine of the priesthood of all believers implies a relationship among various ministries that is collegial. Such an egalitarian ethic infers respect for high-quality musical craftsmanship that invites comparison with the enduring Roman Catholic division into lay and clerical classes, wherein professional musicians tend to be regarded either as lay poachers on clerical turf or as mere substitutes for congregational singing.
A continental compromise between clericalized liturgy on the one hand and music as the voice of the laity on the other was typified by the French Messe de musique. It combined clerical control with offering to all the work of many great musical artists. In large churches built to serve burgeoning urban congregations, a choral mass might be celebrated on Sundays in mid-morning. The other principal service would be a “low” mass, where the priest would read the Latin quietly. In order to communicate a sense of the ineffable, grand orgues like the Cavaille-Cole Instrument at the newly constructed basilica of Ste. Clothilde in Paris (seen in Figure 7) were built the in rear galleries where the organist would improvise on the Gregorian musical motifs of the day in step in with the moments of the mass. This continued the Catholic tradition of using the organ as a background instrument employed to tie the musical components of the liturgy together seamlessly. From Mozart and Beethoven, who wrote down very little music for the organ but were considered masters of the instrument, through many great composers like César Franck (1822–1890), Anton Bruckner (1824–1896), and Anton Dvorak (1841–1904) through Olivier Messiaen (1908–1992) and down to the present day, sublime music on symphonic organs remains a delight of Sunday morning services in many great Catholic edifices worldwide.
In the Reformed churches derived from Calvin’s Geneva, liturgical change had been radical, pruning away Romish paraphernalia in favor of “Four walls and a sermon.” All sung texts were to be strictly biblical, generally the Psalms. No new hymns were composed to fit the liturgical year because it, like the annual cycle of prescribed epistles and gospels, tended to disappear. Connections with irreligious music were eliminated, as were perceived rivals to the word such as professional musicians, choirs, and organs. Following the French-language example, the Psalms were translated into vernacular tongues using a few poetic meters sung to a few simple tunes that functioned like the psalm-tone formulas of the old Roman liturgy. This utilitarian music, rather than Lutheran-style through-composed chorales, characterized the Congregationalist, Presbyterian, and other Reformed churches. In Scotland, the Forme of Prayers by John Knox (1513–1572) had ordered the singing of psalms “in a playne tune”—not plainsong. The texts of sacred scripture were not to be used during mere music rehearsals. Hence arose the use of “practice verses” for learning the tunes before singing them to the biblical text during the actual service. This custom resulted in memory slips that occasioned the lining out of a naughty ballad during at least one inspired performance.63
The services set forth in the Church of England’s Book of Common Prayer contained occasions for congregational involvement, but in times of widespread illiteracy it was the metrical psalms “lined out” by the clerk for everybody to imitate that gave worshipers their best chance for active participation. These became a regular and expected ingredient of worship, sung before and after the sermon. After the restoration of the monarchy in 1660, metrical psalms took their place alongside choral anthems, instrumental voluntaries, and settings of canticles. Eventually bound together with the Prayer Book, they thereby attained a quasi-official status and were widely used as an appendix to the liturgy. The Reformation-era literal translation in Thomas Sternhold’s and John Hopkins’s Whole Book of Psalms (1562)—the “Old Version”—was superseded at the turn of the 18th century by a “New Version” (1696) written by two clerical literati, Nahum Tate (1652–1715) and Nicholas Brady (1659–1726). Their versification, which bent biblical bluntness to the classical suavity of the Augustan Age, remained in print until the 19th century. Their turn from the strict letter of scripture toward rhetorical paraphrase, the taste of the time, or personal appeal marks the beginning of the modern English-language hymn.64 While preaching in the established churches during the Age of Reason may have been a “high and dry” exercise for the mind, hymn writers consciously strove to connect with the heart.
An 18th-century “flowering of English hymnody” extended from the Hymns and Spiritual Songs (1707) of the Independent pastor Isaac Watts through the compositions of John and Charles Wesley in the middle years to John Newton and William Cowper’s Olney Hymns (1779) and the writings of Thomas Kelly and James Montgomery beyond century’s end. Though not immediately incorporated into the liturgy of the Church of England, they represented a new enthusiasm for hymns and the recovery of some ancient purposes under fresh guises. Two famous prefaces make the points. That of Isaac Watts to his Psalms of David Imitated in the Language of the New Testament (1718) was concerned that the Old Testament be interpreted in the light of the New Testament and that the Psalms in particular be sung as the church’s praise: David should be made to “speak like a Christian.” Thus Psalm 72 becomes “Christ’s Kingdom among the Gentiles”:
- Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
- Doth his successive journeys run . . .
Watts’s tunes may have been limited to a few standard meters already in use for singing; for the texts, however, he found a new fluency and deployed literary skills that did not spoil their simplicity. The sometimes stilted phrasing of Tate and Brady was replaced by a combination of vigor and elegance that has stood the test of time, as in Watts’s version of Psalm 90:
- Our God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come,
- Our shelter from the stormy blast, And our eternal home . . .
In addition to Watts’s paraphrases of psalms, his lyrics on divine subjects make him a hymn writer in the modern sense. He may indeed be best remembered for his redemptive fusion of the personal, the cosmic, and the divine in his communion hymn based on Galatians 6:14: “When I survey the wondrous Cross.” On the other hand, much of his work has passed into oblivion, as, for example, his verses for November 5 on “papist idolatry reproved” to commemorate the foiling of Guy Fawkes’s plot in 1605 to blow up Parliament.
John Wesley’s preface to A Collection of Hymns for the Use of the People called Methodists (1780) describes how he organized the hymns “according to the experience of real Christians,” claiming that “no such hymnbook as this has yet been published in the English language.” Not only that, but the book contained “all the important truths of our most holy religion, whether speculative or practical.” The piety of John Wesley (1703–1791) and his brother Charles (1707–1788) was grounded in the classic dogmas and the liturgical life of the Church of England. Yet, as may be seen also in their publications for the great festivals and their eucharistic hymns, they use intimate first-person forms even when rephrasing the doctrines of redemption or invoking the coming of Christ into the worship assembly. Take the Passion hymn originally found in Hymns and Sacred Poems (1742):
- O Love divine! what hast Thou done? The immortal God hath died for me! The Father’s co-eternal Son
- Bore all my sins upon the tree;
- The immortal God for me hath died! My Lord, my Love is crucified.
Or the text from Hymns on the Lord’s Supper (1745) that develops the Resurrection story from Luke 24:13–35:
- O Thou who this mysterious Bread
- Didst in Emmaus break,
- Return herewith our souls to feed, And to Thy followers speak. Unseal the volume of Thy grace, Apply the gospel word,
- Open our eyes to see Thy face, Our hearts to know the Lord . . .
A prolific poet, Charles Wesley was able to use a much greater variety of meters than Watts; and John Wesley, who also translated hymns from the German, insisted editorially on poetic excellence for inclusion in the books intended for use in worship.65 According to Bernard Manning, the Wesleys’ 1780 Collection “ranks in Christian literature with the Psalms, the Book of Common Prayer, and the Canon of the Mass. In its own way, it is elemental in its perfection.”66
This growth in hymnody made for a new way of using hymns in all churches of the dissenting tradition, with which Methodism was by the end of the 18th century aligned. As Manning put it, hymns became “for Dissenters what the liturgy is for the Anglican. They are the framework, the setting, the conventional, the traditional part of divine service as we use it. They are, to adopt the language of the liturgiologists, the Dissenting Use.”67 Thus there was a sharp distinction between the liturgically limited use of hymns in the Church of England and their use in churches with less fixed liturgies. But, as Alan Dunstan observes, the distinction became “much less marked with the growth of more set liturgical forms in the Free Churches” combined with “a more flexible approach to liturgy in the Church of England.”68
The diverse denominational efforts to make orthodox Christianity more attractive to the sentiments of modern worshipers often influenced one another, even when their defined dogmas might be at odds. The writing of hymns that may seem today merely sentimental testifies to a quest for heartfelt appeal that was at one with the Bible and traditions of the church. Pietistic Moravians in Lutheran lands, French Rousseauvian reformers on the eve of the Revolution, and repeated Evangelical revivals in Britain and America all addressed the hearts of worshipers who were facing the possibility of choice among competing codes of life.
In the 19th century, interaction among partisans of the head, heart, and nation became particularly vivid. As England, in particular, became more urban, industrial, and secular, Liberal politicians considered disestablishing the state church, beginning in Ireland, where the preponderance of the population was Roman Catholic anyway. Faced with this prospect, the defenders of the Church of England turned to traditions older than the state. Publicists for this point of view were called Tractarians after their publication Tracts for the Times.69 Prior to secular government they saw a Christian culture out of which the nation had evolved. So, for example, while retaining evangelical-style hymns that made Christianity subjective, the men of the Oxford movement wanted to revivify an “objective” liturgical tradition that extended back to the patristic era when some Church Fathers had found that the original imperial support of Christianity under Constantine presented difficult problems. Hence historical restoration in modern secular states had a political agenda.
More profound was the yearning for the sublime—an awesome reality beyond the finite. Repelled by the surfeit and squalor of the modern industrial metropolis, the eclectic and postrationalistic cultural movement called Romanticism embraced everything except simplistic definitions. From mass appeal to effete detail, every mode of religious idea was available. Hence the hymnals of the 19th century, like its buildings, music, and rubrics, are easy to praise or condemn according to one’s taste. The devout Tory Tractarian John Keble was opposed to political freedom, but was nonetheless an apostle of psychological freedom. The Oxford movement’s measure of religiosity was its intensity, not mere rubricism. Among their models were the revivalistic evangelicals of the Whitefield-Wesley century. According to Keble, all the arts and poetry, especially religious traditions that have survived the centuries, speak the ineffable. They liberate repressed feelings.70
Scholarly historicism and personal appeal also blended in the largest and most widespread ecclesiastical body, Roman Catholicism. Sentimental songs associated with reputed apparitions of the Sacred Heart in the 17th century or the Blessed Virgin Mary at Lourdes in the mid-19th century flourished alongside meticulous research into Gregorian chants of the monastic office. Among Roman Catholics, there is a mistaken belief that only since Vatican II have congregational hymns been sung regularly at mass. This is an oversimplification of a complex question. In central Europe, concessions to vernacular in the liturgy were used during the Counter-Reformation campaign to help recover central Europe from Protestantism. During the Aufklärung (the Enlightenemnt in German-speaking countries) a Deutsches Hochamt (German High Mass) might have included a Hauptlied, a principal song, not just to frame the sermon, as in Protestant worship, but as the musical banner of the eucharistic prayer in place of the Latin Sanctus. This compromise, like the all-German Singmesse, would continue through the church-versus-state Kulturkampf(Culture War between the newly formed German Empire and Catholic Church) during the later 19th century and provide some of the impetus toward the vernacularizing reforms of Vatican II. The combination of Roman liturgy with vernacular language allowed the members of the Roman Catholic Church to claim that they were both Deutsch und Katholik.71
In submerged nationalities ruled by foreign governments, such as the Prussian Germanization in Poland, loyalty to the Latin language could seem nationalistic because the Catholic Church tended to avoid accepting the secular government’s definition of vernacular. From the partitions in the late 18th century down to the extreme situation of the Nazi occupation during the youth of Pope John Paul II, Polish leaders sought to evade German influence. A mixture of their popular vernacular songs for informal worship combined with unswerving loyalty to Roman Latin for the liturgy seemed the right mix. If the liturgy itself had been in the official, legal, and established language of the region, the Poles might have been required to celebrate mass in German. By the beginning of the 20th century, the vernacular-versus-Latin question had come to America with the various Catholic immigrant groups. Some highly educated Germans had arrived among the refugees from the failed revolutions of 1848. They became cultural, political, and liturgical leaders in new cities such as Cincinnati, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Detroit. Other central European ethnic groups might be less educated, but they had similar practices. Vernacular songs were employed alongside Latin even during High Mass and were normal during Low Mass, as had been conceded in Europe during the Counter-Reformation. Slavic Americans addressed their parish music director by the honorific title of professor, and many a parish of miners and laborers supported a full-time organist and choir director. This seemed odd to some of the Irish American leaders for whom the liturgy had better not be in the vernacular nor too public, and certainly not sung too well, as the Catholic Irish had been forced to surrender their mother tongue even while conquering modern English literature. Mass in the vernacular—especially if accompanied by professionally directed music—would have meant the mass in English and implied submission to the Anglican Church of Ireland whose practices the English oppressors wanted to impose.72 On the other hand, southern, central, and eastern European Catholics flaunted their baroque religious practices down to crucifixes in taverns and shrines to the saints and suffering Jesus at the roadside, as in the folk art from Poland pictured in Figure 8. For immigrants from those countries, suspicion of aesthetic religion sometimes made the Irish Americans who dominated US Catholicism seem like WASP killjoys who wanted to take the fun out of church. Whereas Protestants might be perceived as different, the Irish-dominated hierarchy could be perceived as inimical. The differences were institutionalized in several Catholic parishes, such the Sweetest Heart of Mary Church, a Polish American assembly in Detroit, Michigan, where a magnificent edifice was erected but never turned over to the ownership of the bishop, as required by canon law. Instead, a congregational style of parish government persisted, whereby the pastor, although the archbishop’s appointee, cannot spend any money without the approval of an elected board of lay trustees. Similar controversies in other places led to schisms such as the Polish National Catholic Church, whose National Shrine of our Lady of Czestochowa in Doylestown Pennsylvania became a pilgrimage site that bespeaks zeal to maintain ethnic identity. In Chicago, which became home to the largest population of Polish immigrants, there was conflict between them and Cardinal Archishop Mundelein, whose seminary’s New England style of architecture buildings documents zeal for assimilation.
Well before Vatican II, it had in fact become normal for Catholic congregations to sing vernacular hymns at Sunday masses. But liturgical reform was beginning to show signs of a split partly because of different ethnic heritages and partly on account of different tastes, as between the partisans of popular music styles aiming toward congregational singing and those prescribed by the then-existing papal documents on the liturgy, which set up Gregorian chant and Renaissance polyphony as models, defined by Pope (later saint) Pius X in his encyclical Motu Proprio: Tra le sollecitudini (1903) on sacred music.
Relations with Civil Religion
During the 19th century, civic ritual designed to inculcate patriotism spread in the wake of the French Revolution. The new statist cult owed much to Christian practice and would in turn influence modern religion. Like secularized festivals such as Mardi Gras (the day before the penitential season of Lent) in Latin countries, the celebrations of the Revolution kept a flavor related to manifestations of popular religion in Catholic countries. The form of the message also owed much to the behavioralist psychology of leading 18th-century thinkers. Following John Locke (1632–1704), they believed that human nature is malleable and that virtues can be inculcated by associating them with pleasant sensations such as music, dance, and spectacle. The leaders of these spectacles were conscripted largely from the ranks of church musicians, such as the music director at Notre Dame de Paris, Jean-François Lesueur (1760–1837). Even before the Revolution he was experimenting with massive compositional effects in the cathedral. He applied these grandiose gestures to music composed for the fêtes of the Revolution. Eventually he passed his massive approach to ceremonial music on to his student Hector Berlioz (1803–1869). The Lockean behavioralist psychology was reinforced through its relation to the classic debate over the balance between reason and emotion, which had become part of Christian liturgical theory.73
Mediation of the new consciousness sought by the cult of the nation-state was deliberately planned after the recommendations of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, whose prolix writings on community-building as antidote to the Enlightenment demolition of tradition had been summarized in his recommendations to a submerged—Polish—nation trying to survive. “Employ rites, rituals, songs, and stories to create a community,” he says. Maintain traditions and institute practices that regulate even the most intimate aspects of life, as Moses had done among the Hebrews or Lycurgus among the Spartans, because “a fortress built in the heart is impregnable.”74 Since then, Rousseau’s blend of conformity and compassion has influenced virtually every reform movement in Western civilization from the liturgical movement to radical socialism.
When analyzing the relationship between the cult of the Revolution in France and traditional Catholicism, historians have tended to concentrate on startling innovations such as the Cult of Reason or the great celebrations such as that of the Deist Festival of Supreme Being in Paris in June 1794. These were artificial creations of the revolutionary government and as such have little to do with the spontaneous evolution of civic religious practices derived from Catholicism. When radical dechristianization got under way in 1793–1794, it was under the direction of bourgeois ideologues who concocted imagery borrowed from their secular classical education. Not so among the true sansculotte masses in the cities or peasants in the countryside, who still perceived reality in terms of imagery derived from their Catholic upbringing. Although the doctrinal anti-Christian aspects of the civic rites was essentially political propaganda for the new regime, the sentiments of the people changed their attachments from the old to the new dispensation only little by little, if at all. The fervent and mostly female crowds came less for a philosophy lesson and more to venerate the latest revolutionary saints who demonstrated God’s miraculous providence for his people.75
Religious imagery borrowed from familiar songs such as the Easter carol “O filii et filiae” (O sons and daughters) promised a new life, a resurrection under a new political regime. New lyrics to the ancient tune seem both eschatological and related to the theology of the Eucharist:
- The vine that we thought dead
- A new crop of grapes had bred;
- What a miracle. Alleluia, alleluia, alleluia.76
Gradually the civic cult moved away from Catholicism. The fall of the Bastille on July 14, 1789, was celebrated by a Te Deum sung in Notre Dame. The following year witnessed sermons by patriot-priests who said that it was the aristocracy that crucified Christ and therefore the sacrifices made at the Bastille were like Christ’s sacrifice. This implies that dead patriots were Christian martyrs and were therefore saints in heaven. The year wore on with numerous Blessings of Banners for the National Guard, a citizen, rather than royal, army. Solemn oaths in imitation of ancient pagan Roman ceremonies joined Christian prayers. A year later, the first Bastille Day (depicted in Figure 9 by a folk artist) was a Catholic mass concelebrated by three hundred priests wearing tricolor red, white, and blue cinctures. This Festival of Federation was intended to reconcile all factions in France. As it turned out, however, this was the end of public unity between the civic and Catholic liturgies for the next decade. Meanwhile a bishop withdrew from the Catholic Church, addressing the Convention about Holy Equality; a Reformed pastor declared that “Henceforth I shall have no other gospel than the Republican Constitution”; and new songs, such as “La Marseillaise,” sang of holy nature and the sacred love of country. “Le jour de gloire est arrivé” was proclaimed with all the eschatological overtones that such phrases still aroused among the general population.
Most delegates to the Estates General that had been called to reform France’s problems back in 1789 assumed that the Christian cult was the clergy’s business. So, the juring clergy, who swore allegiance to the new Revolutionary regime in 1791, discussed the improvement of worship in the Gallican church. Yet by the time the juring bishops got around to decreeing substantive changes in the liturgy, the Revolution was bent on destroying, not changing, Christianity. Moreover these Constitutional Clergy—loyal to the spirit of Henry IV, for whom “Paris was worth a mass,” and regardless of their personal opinions—as a whole hesitated to go the way of the Protestants with their tendency to divide the church into competing sects. Loyal Gallicans to the end, these successors of the nation-building cardinals Mazarin and Richelieu wished to avoid disrupting the consolidation of the French state that had taken a thousand years to build from the days of Clovis’s conversion to the religion of his wife, Saint Clotilde.
As the Revolution sped on, progressives departed the upper ranks of even the Constitutional Clergy. Some vernacular Catholic liturgies may have been performed in a few parishes, but one cannot be sure that the mass was ever said in French during the decade of Revolution. The refractory, nonjuring clergy, who remained loyal to the Roman church, concentrated on maintaining church unity, declaring—rather like the Irish during the English occupation—that in such times it was sufficient for the priest to understand the Latin rites and the people to attend. The liturgical policy of the Republic was officially to follow Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s advice to “turn the spectators into the spectacle” with rites designed to be performed by and for the people, not in confining buildings but under the open sky. The Revolutionary “pageant masters” conscripted musicians and published a Magasin that was a resource book of music for an annual round of rituals intended to replace the Catholic liturgical year with civic festivals such as those honoring the Supreme Being, Natural Law, and Love of Country. Wherever the revolution spread it replaced old habits wedded to the Catholic liturgical year with new ideas, right down to the metric system, even temporarily expunging the seven-day week in favor of a ten-day decade.77
Napoleon’s Concordat with the papacy officially settled the conflict between the two competing cults in 1801 by returning the church to the liturgical status quo ante. After the persecutions suffered during the Revolution, the Catholic Church in romance-language countries tended to be dominated by an émigré mentality that estranged it from modern civilization.
The Church sometimes seemed like an exile in secular industrial civilization. There was to be no concessions to the vernacular except in paraliturgical devotions or hymns that might be sung during the liturgy but were technically not part of it. During the remainder of the 19th century there was a clear split in France between Catholic and civic ritual, such as the requirement that all couples be married before a town magistrate (who wore a tri-color sash), thus making the sacrament of matrimony unnecessary in the eyes of the state. Nevertheless the full separation between church and state did not come until 1905–1906.
Romanticism: The Culture of Bourgeois Democracy
The 18th-century Enlightenment and the Age of Reason had led to a critique of reason itself. The result was a new cultural movement that explored those aspects of human nature and culture that were not rational. Furthermore, by the end of the 18th century, reform and revolution had proven insufficient guides to the pursuit of happiness. The expansion of intellectual horizons led to an expansion of affective insights whereby the Enlightenment itself was judged insufficient by a new cultural movement, Romanticism. Because of its respect for those realities that are beyond reason, Romanticism was open to religion. Because one of those realities is tradition, Romanticism was usually friendly toward religious heritage. Fearing that social capital was being destroyed by cutthroat capitalism, Romanticism was often communitarian and therefore respectful of communal rituals, though not always reverent toward organized religious denominations. Romanticism included solicitude for endangered species of belief and practice. These included the lost innocence of childlike aspirations, traditions of communities, unique events, and incomprehensible mysteries that they named “The Sublime” (das Erhabene). Whereas the Enlightenment had aspired to a scientific explanation for all things according geometrical principles that were defined and therefore definite, the Romantics sought the ineffable, the undefinable, the infinite.
By insisting that reality includes many things that are beyond scientific explanation, the Romantics tended to subvert the traditional intellectualist hierarchy of the “higher” and “lower” human faculties, much as the democratic and industrial revolutions had subverted feudal presumptions about “higher” and “lower” classes of humanity. This subversion had many dimensions in cultural matters. Among them was a psychological reorientation from the objective outside world to the subjective world of imagination and feelings within; a social reorientation from idealization of the privileged to idealization of the people; a geographical reorientation away from the classical culture lately borne by the French to indigenous cultures wherever found; a gender reorientation away from a masculine to an androgynous ideal; from the adult to the child; from the urbane sophisticate to the simple peasant. All of these changes marked a fresh emphasis on themes continuous in the Western cultural tradition but inseparable from the industrial and political revolutions of the same years. Romanticism, which recognized organic links with the past, was often historicist and therefore conservative. It could also be liberal in its search for democratic culture, in which self-esteemed “reasonable men” must come to terms with the unreasonableness of mass feeling often expressed in popular religions. In short, where classically minded Rationalism sought universal rules, Romanticism valued variety.
While proceeding to new creation in this spirit, the Romantics usually thought it necessary simultaneously to reestablish contact with living or viable traditions where emotion or imagination had flourished. The part of the human past that most fascinated them was that which lay psychically anterior to calculation and historically prior to civilization and its discontents. There the function of ritual was to give a healing outlet for secret emotions, to speak the unspeakable and to communicate the ineffable.
Ultimately, the zeal to conserve past religious experience came to support the belief that artistic—especially musical—imagination is the key to future religion and therefore to future civilization. Speaking of the artistic playfulness of the liturgy, the great cultural critic and forerunner of Vatican II, Romano Guardini, much the student of the Romantics, contrasted the apparent purposeless of the liturgy with a didactic syllabus like Ignatius of Loyola’s Spiritual Exercises:
The difference resembles that which exists between a gymnasium, in which every detail of the apparatus and every exercise aims at a calculated effect, and the open wood and fields. In the first, everything is consciously directed towards discipline and development; in the second, life is lived with Nature, and internal growth takes place in her.78
In those places where traditional ritual and music survived through the 18th into the 19th centuries, their use was like the churches they served, often more a habit than a conviction. Still, there was no lack of leaders who hoped to revive the liturgy. Therefore the roots of the return to liturgical integrity lie in the Enlightenment, in not only its Protestant-like critique of distracting accretions to the liturgy but also in its desire that human behavior be in accordance with laws of social and psychological nature, which may be discerned but are too complex to be defined. Like so many things, the restoration of the liturgy owes something to Jean-Jacques Rousseau, philosopher of the natural impulse who despised sophisticated urbanity. His theories, perhaps the most influential of modern times, appeal to the heart or tradition but can seem dangerous allies for religionists. For Rousseau, religious expression may be necessary, but theologies and church authority are not. Many of his works deal obliquely with the question of the need for communal ritual and what form this might take. His Dictionnaire de musique became an often-unacknowledged handbook. Besides disseminating some of the first scholarly information on folk and non-Western music, it gives a clue to his attitude toward religious worship as an evolutionary phenomenon that is both a product and a measure of the total culture. He believed that the good things in Christian worship, like Gregorian chant, “were a noble relic of classical Greek culture . . . preferable to the theatrical [read “entertaining”] music usually heard in churches, which was merely a display of vocal technique, whereas Chant clothed the text and thus expressed it better for the listeners.”79 His ideas were exploited by both those who wished to repristinate Christian worship and those who desired to replace it with a new cult.80
Another pioneer of liturgical reform was Martin Gerbert (1720–1793), abbot of Saint Blasien, who collected and published the then-known writings of earlier ecclesiastical authors concerning liturgical music. Like Rousseau, his thesis was that modern music was too proud to serve the liturgy. His nostalgia for the liturgy of earlier days was tempered with vernacularist teaching that Latin hymns “are of no use to a peasant,” who should have the opportunity to sing in his native tongue for the sake both of edification and of piety, as “he did in the old Germanic liturgy.”81 The theological tradition that teaches that civilization has run downhill from some ideal antiquity derives from Plato, who speaks of music as the most potent art and warns of its dangers when insubordinate. Prior to the age of Rousseau and Mozart, there was scant published information about the actual craft of music, which was reckoned the purview of ignorant artists. Christian scholars abhorred the arrival of not just hymn lyricists but of professional musicians into liturgical leadership. The rise of music in the estimation of the Romantics from last to first in the aesthetic hierarchy connoted a profound cultural revolution—Romanticism—that toppled Western Civilization’s Platonic presumptions inherited through the Church.82
Johann Michael Sailer and Prosper Guéranger
The paradigm of Roman Catholic liturgical reform and ecumenism in more modern times is Johann Michael Sailer (1751–1832), who rose from the peasantry to become bishop of Regensburg.83 He is important for many reasons. First, his ideas combine the Protestant and Enlightenment critique of Catholic worship with those of nascent Romanticism. Second, his pastoral application of these ideas made him a prophet both of progressive Catholicism and of liturgical revival based on historical research. He was the patron both of a program to restore old music and of popular participation in the liturgy. Through his students, among them King Ludwig I of Bavaria, he was also a forerunner of the German Center Party mixture of Catholicism and nationalism. Ironically, the work of Sailer, who appreciated non-Catholic and non-Christian culture, led to the Caecilian Society, which was defensively ultramontane—looking “over the [Alps] mountains” for guidance from the pope in Rome.
Sailer’s biographers consider him the most important religious leader of his time. Having lived and died within the Roman Catholic Church, he has attracted no liberal historians, unlike the famous Christian socialist and apostate priest, Felicité de Lamennais (1782–1854). Since ecclesiastical enemies questioned Sailer’s orthodoxy, his promotion to bishop was delayed until he was eighty and his cause neglected thereafter. Comparable to Rousseau among the French philosophes and the folklorist Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744–1803) among Protestant Germans in his wide embrace, Sailer’s influence was in part responsible for the ideas eventually enshrined in the Second Vatican Council.
Sailer was the first Catholic theologian to recognize the importance of Romanticism. He appreciated the music of Ludwig von Beethoven (1770–1827) as a document of the possibilities of genius freed from artificial social restrictions and was in turn admired by the composer. Sailer’s middle ground between Erastian statism and ultramontane devotionalism foreshadowed John Henry Newman’s later attempt to synthesize an evolutionary view of history with the doctrines and practice of Christianity. Both Sailer and Newman saw the doctrines and liturgy of the Church as organic parts of an all-embracing, though locally adaptable, continuum wherein diverse cultural forces were reconciled.
Sailer argued that the development of every human faculty is necessary in the formation of a complete individual, just as the development of all human types is necessary in the formation of a good society. Hence, simple piety or musical sensitivity is as human as abstract philosophy or political cunning. Noteworthy among the thirty-three volumes of his published works is The Union of Religion and Art [Bund der Religion und Kunst] (1808), which balances devotion to the institutional Church with sensitivity to the simple Inner Light stressed by the “enthusiasts.” He combines appreciation for past heritage with need to update its expressions. Sailer was regarded most highly as a pastor and mentor of young priests. The ideas handed down for 150 years through students of his students are preserved in the Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy of the Second Vatican Council. Among Sailer’s eventual cultural heirs was another Regensburg professor, cited for progressivism or immobility at different stages of his career, Josef Ratzinger, who became Pope Benedict XVI.
Along with the Bavarian polymath Sailer, the French Benedictine Dom Prosper Guéranger (1805–1875) shares honors for beginning the chain of events that led to the liturgical reforms of the 20th century.84 In his youth Guéranger was a disciple of Felicité de Lamennais, who was at that time a firebrand Catholic apologist.85
Guéranger believed that Enlightenment rationalism was not only insufficient but also dangerous, as evidenced by the destructive excesses of the French Revolution. According to him, the modern world needed communitarian spiritual priorities higher than political power founded on selfish capitalistic greed. Only the Roman Catholic Church, led by the pope, could provide true freedom, which would include independence of any secular regime. Revival of the ancient liturgical life of Benedictine coenobitic (communial, as opposed to hermetic) monasticism was believed seminal for Roman Catholic revival in much the same way as the Pietist Nikolaus Ludwig Zinzendorf and his Protestant commune had believed they were the prophets for Lutheran regeneration. According to Dom Guéranger, who later achieved the reputation of having begun the restoration of an ancient continuous utopian community, the congregation need not even understand, let alone directly participate in, the ceremonies of the church. The liturgical chant functioned ex opere operato—automatically whenever the correct ritual is performed.. Nevertheless, with his mind on his beloved medieval Ages of Faith, he insisted that “plain chant is the sung prayer of the people”: “its prosody bears the people’s accent, its modes are natural scales, the people’s.”86 Like many other exemplars of the complex 19th-century cultural revolution called Romanticism, Guéranger combined conservative theology with progressive sociology. As the Wesleys and revivalists had tried to rejuvenate churches in the changing Anglophone world, so did Continental liturgical reformers attempt to recreate an imagined Christian community that had been ruined by internecine nationalism and selfish materialistic indivfidualism. By restoring the liturgy and its music, Guéranger believed that he could save the world. If he could only return to the people their stolen heritage of chanted worship, a community of love would follow under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. He began the restoration in the 1830s, the same decade depicted in Victor Hugo’s Les misérables (1862), which portrayed common ground between the rituals of revolutionary camaraderie and Christian agape.
In 1833 Dom Guéranger began the reintroduction of monasticism into France. At the Priory of Solesmes they again lived Saint Benedict’s Rule in a combination of “prayer and work” (ora et labora). They hoped to be a model for a confused modern society as Benedict had hoped his communities would build Christian civilization amid the chaotic dark ages that followed the fall of the Roman Empire.87
Benedictine monasticism is a communitarian total environment, the heart of which is the chanting of the liturgy. The aim is for the ritual to engage all the senses with its view, colors, light, and darkness; its texture; its incense; its kinesthesia; and its sound. The sounds were monophonic chant. In the age of industry and its chief critic, Karl Marx (1818–1883), the oldest communism extant in Western civilization seemed to many idealists no longer “the denial of humanity” that the Enlightenment had spoken of, but “the art of arts,” as Romano Guardini would call it. Part of the rationale for dissolving the cloisters in the 18th century—as for Henry VIII in the 16th—had been to transfer their resources and loyalties to the state. On the Continent, the revival of the monastic way of life aimed to reverse this process while providing a refuge against materialism.
When Guéranger and his associates dedicated themselves to the restoration of the “art of arts,” it was almost inevitable that Solesmes would become concerned with music, the art most thoroughly integrated with the day-to-day performance of the opus Dei, the liturgy of the hours. At first, the medieval music seemed the most easily accessible affect because it appeared to depend only on authentic manuscripts and competent performers. Yet music proved to be both the emblem of unity and the sign of contradiction within the liturgical restoration.
With one hand Guéranger fought the religious rationalism that would delete everything nonbiblical—that is, everything medieval—from the Roman rites and even replace its first-person plurals with singulars. With the other, he fought Gallican traditions that were concessions to local custom. These were anathema to the followers of Lamennais because they suggested that the cosmic authority of Christianity depended on local bishops, who were now state employees. So, Guéranger worked to destroy all trace of non-Roman missals. Only by being handwritten were some Gallican rites preserved. Most were so efficiently proscribed and destroyed by the Romanizers that much music and text that had equal claim to be preserved by the church has been lost. Researchers today have difficulty even learning about the existence of these rites.
To an ultramontane like Guéranger, Parisian and other Gallican missals and service books were nothing but “an unhappy amalgam of Roman chants and parodies of miscellaneous ancient pieces.” For many others, however, it was an honest difficulty to choose among all the versions that presented themselves as authentic Roman chant. The Gallicans insisted that an arbitrarily uniform version would confound rather than edify the faithful, who may have sung their particular Gallican chants for generations. To Guéranger’s party, however, community meant uniformity, just as it would to the papal party at the First Vatican Council in 1870. The right to publish the official service books for the entire Roman Catholic Church was, of course, a financial prize. Desclée in Belgium published the Solesmes version; its major competitor was the Ratisbon version, published by Pustet in Regensburg, where the inspiration for non-ultramontane reformers had been Johann Michael Sailer.
The contest for the hearts of the French people was waged by the 19th-century church and state in monumental ways. One of the most visible was the construction of the church of Sacré-Coeur on the highest hill overlooking Paris. Its curvaceous towers contradict the straight-edged neoclassical style favored by the Enlightenment, Revolution, and the financial institutions of economic liberalism. Although the great churches of the capital of European culture, Paris, were now national property, Sacré-Coeur was not. It was built with the contributions of Catholics to apologize to God for the Commune of 1871 and, implicitly, for the sins of modernity. The Blessed Sacrament is exposed there in perpetual adoration.
A Century of Secular and Religious Tensions
During the course of the 19th century, forms of Christian worship evolved in active dialogue with ideals derived from Enlightenment liberalism. With the lifting of legal sanctions against nonattendance at church services in western Europe and North America, religious practice now seemed a matter of personal commitment and patriotic outreach of European states through their empires. Western civilization circled the globe in both directions, as testified by the Catholic cathedrals built from Algiers to Saigon, the onion domes of Orthodox churches planted down the western coast of America, Anglican bishoprics spreading from Cape Town to Shanghai, and the singing of Methodist hymns virtually everywhere in virtually every language. The most secularist national empires were eager to support overseas conversion to the homeland denominations of Christianity in order to color maps abroad after the mother country.
The United States of America presents a special case. Though the constitution is secular, territorial expansion marched on a proudly Protestant pilgrimage liturgy of manifest destiny. In every town, edifices arose to house Christian worship. The journey past the frontier, whether to build a Shakertown, an Oneida, or a Temple in the wilderness for the Latter Day Saints, seemed to reinstitute God’s covenant as his Chosen People claimed a promised land. Progress, personal fulfillment, and national destiny seemed to be atone with the Christian teleological paradigm. To journey beyond the Old Law became as salvific a ritual action as the biblical book of Exodus, Jesus’s staggering to Calvary, a medieval walk to Canterbury, or Muslim Haj to Mecca. The rationales of enlightened progress, personal encounter Ultimate, and reasons of state expansion from sea to shining sea were at one in the revised myth and ritual of the Redeemer Nation.88 Yet the full implications of such mythic journeys were not to be seen until righteous America ruled the globe.
At home in Europe and in the old colonies of Iberia, however, the situation of Christian worship as emblem of a Christian nation grew problematic. Although the cultural treasures of liturgical art, music, and architecture were being restored, theology became embattled. By the end of the 19th century, energies that once made the practice of Christianity the center of Western culture were being transferred to secular myths that grew out of the Judeo-Christian impetus. Socialist celebrations, spun off from utopian versions of Christian ritual and contemporary with new sects like Mormonism in America, turned to effect a scientific antireligiosity. In romance-language countries, the aggressive legacy of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic eras made the state and church enemies, with the state seeking either to end religious worship or to use it—through its sweeping social and geographical reach—as a vehicle to consolidate the state’s own position. In France, while the monks of Solesmes were laboring over new editions of Gregorian chant, the government was preparing laws meant to assert the final dissolution of monastic communities whose liturgies had for centuries provided the ideal for Catholicism.89
The hymns of Protestant worship seemed to match the old liturgical chant and polyphony in diversity and durability as vehicles for popular participation and inspiration for art music. Choral music by professional choirs of men and boys returned not only to the cathedrals of the Church of England but to larger parishes as well.90 A converted Jewish composer, Felix Mendelssohn (1809–1847), had revived the St. Matthew Passion of Bach in 1829 at Berlin, the putative capital of the Germanies. In 1846 he premiered Elijah in industrial Birmingham, while concert-hall temples of Romantic art religion were being constructed to celebrate Christian civilization worldwide. Choral singing, usually of religious texts, became the most widespread leisure and educational activity of the century, giving the patina of religious worship to public communal cultural life. In Cincinnati, Ohio, by the 1880s both a cathedral and a concert hall of European proportions were complete in a city that fifty years before had been on the frontier. By the turn into the 20th century, new North American industrial cities such as Chicago were spreading vast skylines punctuated by magnificent churches of every conceivable ethnic group and denomination, often supported by poor laborers in joyful imitation of their best memories of the homeland.
Proud as Germans were of their cultural heritage expressed in their legacy of music, it often became a sign of contradiction. Following the unification of Germany in 1871 under the Protestant Prussian king turned emperor, Catholics resisted Chancellor Otto von Bismarck’s Kulturkampf,a “culture war with the Catholic Church.” They dug in liturgically much as the Benedictines did in the militantly secular French Republic.91 The Roman Catholic Caecilian Movement wanted to sustain a Latin-language liturgy that would indicate the priority of church over the secular state. Leaders of Protestant background, including Johannes Brahms (1833–1897) flourishing in Catholic Vienna, produced vernacular pieces like his Deutsches Requiem (1868–1872), which was the acme of a choral movement that was equally education, heartfelt religion, and national propaganda. To politically submerged neighboring nations such as Poland, however, German cultural material, even if biblical, seemed a threat to be avoided
To the East in the tsarist Russian empire the legacy of completely sung liturgy as center of the church reinforced the position of the national Orthodox churches derived from Byzantium rather than Rome. Russian choral music testifies to the strength of that tradition and the care lavished on its cultivation. Russian Romantic religious worship balanced western compositional techniques with a sense of unbroken tradition.
At the turn into the 20th century, each Christian denomination had a liturgy whose form would be readily recognizable. Seeking to insulate Roman Catholicism from modernist tinkering, in 1903 Pope Pius X issued a motu proprio Tra le Sollecitudinie that offered guidelines for refurbishing liturgy in a way that might protect it from the assaults of secular culture. In many ways, this date marks the fruition of the Romantic dream of historical authenticity that reinvigorated all branches of Christianity. Whereas theological disputation with higher critics or state authorities might be losing battles, intense worship experience—whether in Protestant preaching and hymnody or Catholic sacramental life—seemed impregnable. As a Congregationalist convert to Anglo-Catholicism, W. C. Roberts, put it:
The Mass and the confessional were bugbears to Protestant England; their reappearance in the National Church was viewed with horror and gave Dissenters further reason for separation from it. They were in fact the two things that I needed. The rather cultured Nonconformist church in which I was brought up gave me a picture of Christ as of someone long ago who told us the truth about God, bringing home his love, and strengthening us by His example, but it was a tale of long ago. I wanted Someone here and now. Catholicism taught the real Presence of Christ among us through the Apostolic Sacraments.92
Liberal Christian rituals seemed to offer no such comforts that could not be found equally well satisfied in social work or cultural endeavors with similar high-minded people. So insisted the Unitarian minister Henry Gow: “The old unreasoning habit of Public Worship which took our forefathers to church or chapel has been broken down. There is a tendency for good men to care for Practice without Prayer, to believe in morals without religion.”93
Seen from this light, the branches of Christianity most likely to survive eventually proved to be those whose practices, if not their intellectual self-analysis, were farthest from liberalism. These are Roman Catholicism and evangelical fundamentalism. The latter had its own version of the real presence in the public acceptance of Jesus as a personal savior.
On the theoretical and historical level, liturgical scholars tend to be officially suspicious of Romanticism as “liberalism in art” or mere antiquarian sentimentalism. The core of Romanticism is that the most reasonable assessment of ultimate reality is that it lies beyond the limits of reason alone. Christian worship at the turn into the 20th century owed much to Romanticism.94
Davies, Horton. Worship and Theology in England. Vol. 3: From Watts and Wesley to Maurice, 1690–1850. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961.Find this resource:
Davies, Horton. Worship and Theology in England. Vol. 4: From Newman to Martineau, 1850–1900. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1962.Find this resource:
Davies, Horton. Worship and Theology in England. Vol. 5: The Ecumenical Century: 1900–1965. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1965.Find this resource:
Donakowski, Conrad L. A Muse for the Masses: Ritual and Music in an Age of Democratic Revolution, 1770–1870. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977. Views religious practice in its overall cultural context.Find this resource:
Day, Thomas. Why Catholics Can’t Sing. New York: Crossroad, 1990. Raises cultural issues such as relations among ethnicity, popular religion, and tradition.Find this resource:
Ratzinger, Josef. “On the Theological Basis of Church Music.” In The Feast of Faith, 97–126. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1986.Find this resource:
Ruff, Anthony, OSB. Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations. Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2007. Authoritative, especially concerning German-speaking lands.Find this resource:
Senn, Franki C. Christian Liturgy: Catholic and Evangelical. Minneapolis: Augsburg Fortress Press, 1997.Find this resource:
(1.) The comprehensive, though unsympathetic, treatment in Ronald Knox’s Enthusiasm: A Chapter in the History of Religion with Special Reference to the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (Oxford: Clarendon, 1950; reprint, New York: Oxford University Press, 1961) demonstrates the essential consonance of many movements often viewed as conflicting.
(2.) Clifford Geertz, “Religion as a Cultural System,” in Anthropological Approaches to the Study of Religion, ed. Michael Banton (New York: Prager, 1966), 1–46.
(3.) Immanuel Kant, Die Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vernunft [Religion within the limits of reason alone], in Immanuel Kants Werke, vol. 6 (Berlin: Cassirer, 1923), 302. To see a discussion of this problem—specifically from the angle of church music (“Why worship God if God does not need it?”), which goes back to the ancient Greek philosophers, see Joseph Ratzinger, “On the Theological Basis of Church Music,” in Feast of Faith (San Francisco: Ignatious Press, 1986), 97–126. A discussion of the influence of the Enlightenment, for better and for worse, on the reforms of the liturgy can be found particularly in the first chapter, “A Historical Inquest,” of Aiden Nichol, Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of Its Contemporary Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996).
(4.) Note the critical tone in Josef Jungmann’s sweeping characterizations of “liturgical life on the eve of the Reformation and in the Baroque period” in Liturgisches Erbe und pastorale Gegenwart (Innsbruck, Austria: Tyrolia, 1960), 87–119. Some of Jungmann’s biases can perhaps be better understood from the standpoint of the experiential framework out of which he was operating. In his recently publish Memoirs, the late Louis Bouyer comments that “[Fr. Jungmann], in his entire life, had never celebrated a Solemn Mass!” (Kettering, OH: Angelico Press, 2015).
(5.) Contrary to the neoplatonic interpretation in Catherine Pickstock, After Writing: On the Liturgical Consummation of Philosophy (Oxford: Blackwell, 1998).
(6.) The film The Mission (1986) depicts this appeal sympathetically. The general cultural historian Kenneth Clark allows the Roman church’s ability to create a sort of cultural democracy that shares good things with all citizens. “The Catholic revival was a popu- lar movement, that.|.|.gave ordinary people a means of satisfying, through ritual, images and symbols, their deepest impulses”; Kenneth Clark, Civilisation (New York: Harper & Row, 1969), 167.
(7.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, offers a contextual view of the issues raised here. The classic work of Johan Huizinga still stands as definitive of ritual theory: Homo Ludens (Haarlem, Netherlands: Tjeenk Willink, 1938; Eng. trans. Homo Ludens: A Study of the Play-Element in Culture, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1949). Modern theorists include Clifford Geertz (see note 2) and Claude Lévi-Strauss, Structural Anthropology, trans. Claire Jacobson and Brooke Grundfest Schoepf (New York: Basic Books, 1963), 232–241. Among historical works on this period, still cogent is the synthesis in Robert R. Palmer, The Age of Democratic Revolution, 2 vols. (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1959–1964), see esp. 2:572. The impulse to reform Christian and Jewish cults resembled that which urged the French revolutionaries to liquidate the medieval symbolic system in favor of a civic religion.
(8.) Hans Hollerweger, Die Reform des Gottesdienstes zur Zeit des Josephinismus in Österreich, Studien zur Pastoralliturgie 1 (Regensburg, Germany: Pustet, 1976); Albert Gerhards, “Die Synode von Pistoia 1786 und ihre Reform des Gottesdienstes,” in eds. Martin Klöckener and Benedikt Kranemann, Liturgiereformen: Historische Studien zu einem bleib- enden Grundzug des christlichen Gottesdienstes, Liturgie- wissenschaftliche Quellen und Forschungen 88 (Münster, Germany: Aschendorff, 2002), 496–510.
(9.) A discussion of the influence of the Enlightenment on the reforms of the liturgy after Vatican II can be found in Aidan Nichol, Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of its Contemporary Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996), ch. 1, “A Historical Inquest.”
(10.) See Ottfried Jordahn, “Georg Friedrich Seiler—der Liturgiker der deutschen Auklärung,” Jahrbuch für Liturgik und Hymnologie 14 (1969): 1–62.
(11.) Anton von Bucher, “Entwurf einer landlichen Charfreytagsprocession samt einem gar lustigen und geistlichen Vorspiel,” in Bairische Sinnenlust bestehend in welt-und geistlichen Comödien, Exemplen, und Satiren, mit einem Nachwort herausgegeben von Rein- hard Wittman (n.p., 1782), 17–37.
(12.) A parallel secular dispute was the Buffoons’ Quarrel, in which men of letters fulminated against Italian opera for the same reasons: it was “irrational,” “dominated by music,” and even therefore “immoral.” A humorous, though profound, fictional dramatization of the quarrel is found in Denis Diderot, Le neveu de Rameau, which has many English translations.
(13.) The Spectator, Tuesday, March 6, 1711, cited from Oliver Strunk, ed., Source Readings in Music History: The Baroque Era (New York: Norton, 1965), 151–154.
(14.) The Latin word opus is a singular whose plural opera is a synonym for the Greek leitourgia, whence derives the English word liturgy.
(15.) Quoted from Ernst Xaver Turin’s unpublished diaries in Rupert Giessler, Die geistliche Lieddichtung der Katholiken im Zeitalter der Aufklärung, Schriften zur deutschen Literatur für die Görresgesellschaft 10  (Augsburg, Germany: B. Filser, 1929), 156–172, here 164–165. Concerning hymns, songs, and liturgical theories from the Aufklärung, see Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 76–105. See also the bibliographical précis “Aufklärungszeit” in each number of the Jahrbuch für Liturgiewissenschaft.
(16.) See Ian Germani and Robin Swales, eds., Symbols, Myths, and Images of the French Revolution: Essays in Honour of James A. Leith (Regina, Canada: Canadian Plains Research Center, University of Regina, 1998); and Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 33–75. Anthony Burgess’s novel, Napoleon Symphony (1974), parodies the imperious regulation of every aspect of existence, an implicit counterpoint to the former Catholic culture.
(17.) See Giessler, Lieddichtung, 167, again quoting from Turin’s diaries.
(18.) There was a practical reason for turning Continental church music into simple community singing. The secularization of church property, together with the advent of more secular and fewer ecclesiastical schools, meant that many religious institutions would no longer have the resources to support elaborate musical establishments. Hence, zeal for a didactic liturgy augmented an unwillingness or inability to train and support musicians who could perform music that required sophisticated skills such as the ability to decipher figured bass at sight. Beginning in the late 18th century, one written-out accompaniment sufficed for all verses, and tune books eschewed any hint of an instrumental interlude between verses. Note values were equalized throughout the hymn. In short, there was no longer any attempt musically to interpret the sentiment behind the words; the tune became a vehicle to carry the text, and no more. This simplification continued the convention found in many genres of Gebrauchsmusik, including folk and church music. Among examples of the same music serving seemingly conflicting texts is the familiar “O Sacred Head” (O Haupt voll Blut und Wunden) used repeatedly in Johann Sebastian Bach’s setting of the St. Matthew Passion. The tune was originally a love song. After all, even the venerable Palestrina, like most liturgical composers, employed profane cantus firmi, sometimes disguised in Masses sine nomine. An 18th-century hymn writer, Ignaz Franz, uses the same tune for the sober “Von der Todesangst am Ölberg” (Agony on the Mount of Olives) and for a German version of the festive Te Deum text. The secularization of cloisters at the end of the 18th century dismantled much indigenous musical life.
(19.) Liturgisches Journal 3 (1803): 16.
(20.) Benedict Maria Werkmeister, Beyträge zur Verbesserung der katholischen Liturgie in Deutschland (Ulm, 1789), 396; and Albert Vierbach, Die liturgischen Anschauungen des Vitus Anton Winter (Munich: Kösel and Pustet, 1929), 336.
(21.) Burchard Thiel, Die Liturgik der Aufklärungszeit in Deutschland: Ihre Grundlagen und die Ziele ihrer Vertreter (Breslau, Germany: Nischkowsky, 1926), 8.
(22.) Thiel, 29–35; Giessler, Lieddichtung, 108–116.
(23.) Benedict von Werkmeister, Einleitung zum Gebrauche des neuen Gesang- und Melodienbuches bey den Gottes- verehrungen der Catholischen Kirche (Tübingen, Germany: Jacob Heerbrandt, 1808), 50.
(24.) Werkmeister, Einleitung, 63.
(25.) Werkmeister, Einleitung, 63.
(26.) The latter proposal came from Benedikt Peuger, the late-Enlightenment would-be reformer of Catholic worship. On Peuger, see Friedrich Zoepfl, Benedikt Peuger: Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der kirchlichen Aufklärung, Münchener Studien zur historischen Theologie 11 (Munich: Kösel and Pustet, 1933).
(27.) Mein Jesus kann addieren und kann multiplizieren selbst dort, wo lauter Nullen sind; in Hans Joachim Moser, Die evangelische Kirchenmusik in Deutschland (Berlin: Merseburger, 1954), 221.
(28.) Institutes 1.11–12; see John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, Vol. 1, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 99–120.
(29.) Burton Feldman and Robert D. Richardson, The Rise of Modern Mythology, 1680–1860 (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972), 27.
(30.) Carol Norén, “The Word of God in Worship,” in The Study of Liturgy, eds. Cheslyn Jones, Geoffrey Wainwright, Edward Yarnold, and Paul Bradshaw, rev. ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 43–44.
(31.) Yngve Brilioth, Landmarks in the History of Preaching (London: SPCK, 1950), 27–28. For a detailed picture of the period, see Hughes Oliphant Old, The Reading and Preaching of the Scriptures in the Worship of the Christian Church, Vol. 4: The Age of the Refor- mation (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2002).
(32.) John Morrill, “The Church in England, 1642–1649,” in Reactions to the English Civil War, ed. John Morrill (New York: St. Martin’s, 1983), 89–114, here 91. See also Ruth Mack Wilson, Anglican Chant and Chanting in England, Scotland, and America, 1660 to 1820 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1996).
(33.) On the liturgies of the Non-Jurors, see W. Jardine Grisbrooke, Anglican Liturgies of the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Centuries (London: SPCK, 1958).
(34.) R. T. Beckwith, “The Anglican Eucharist from the Reformation to the Restoration,” in The Study of Liturgy, 310–311.
(35.) Wilson, Anglican Chant, 194, quoting from Edward Burt, Letters from a Gentleman in the North of Scotland to His Friend in London (1754; n.p. 5th ed. 1822), 212.
(36.) These 19th-century attempts by High-Church Anglicans to “Romanize” the Book of Common Prayer—an order of worship created by largely Calvinist Archbishop Cranmer—sometimes elicited hostile rebuke, or simply the humorous observations that they were trying to be “more Catholic than even the Pope.” That some of their spiritual descendants, entering into full communion with the Catholic Church, were granted an ‘Anglican Ordinariate’ in 2009 by the Vatican within which they could keep their ‘distinctive Anglican spiritual and liturgical patrimony might be seen as one of those wry ironies of history; see Aiden Nichols, Looking at the Liturgy: A Critical View of Its Contemporary Form (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1996).
(37.) Accurate, though opinionated, is Thomas Day, “Divine Lunacy” and “The Green Mainstream” in Why Catholics Can’t Sing (New York: Crossroad, 1991), 11–22. An exception to Irish Catholic suspicion of liturgical grandeur can be observed in James Joyce’s Ulysses (published 1922), which alludes to a turn of the 20th-century Dublin congregation’s preference for Rossini’s operatic music over the oratory of the noted preacher Father Bernard Vaughan.
(38.) Alexis de Tocqueville, Journeys to England and Ireland, ed. J. P. Mayer, trans. George Lawrence and K. P. Mayer (London: Faber, 1958), 180; cf. 168–173.
(39.) John Bishop, “The Form and Order of Public Worship in the Free Churches,” in Methodist Worship in Relation to Free Church Worship, rev. ed. (n.p.: Scholars Studies Press, 1975), 1–63. See also Larry Ward, “Filled with the Spirit: The Musical Life of an Apostolic Pentecostal Church in Champaign-Urbana, Illinois” (PhD diss., University of Illinois, 1997), who discusses the elastic but patterned format of worship in that congregation. In traditional black churches the shouting and holy dancing that may follow preaching are referred to as “getting happy.” See E. Franklin Frazier, The Negro Church in America (New York: Schocken, 1963) , 54; and W. E. B. Du Bois, “Faith of the Fathers,” from The Souls of Black Folk (1903) quoted in Phil Zuckerman, ed., Du Bois on Religion (Walnut Creek, CA: Alta Mira, 2000), 47–56.
(40.) Bishop, Methodist Worship, 4; and Norén, “The Word of God in Worship,” 45.
(41.) On the permeability of ecclesiological boundaries see John Walsh, “Origins of the Evangelical Revival,” in Essays in Modern English Church History in Memory of Norman Sykes, eds. G. V. Bennett and J. D. Walsh (New York: Oxford University Press, 1966), 132–162. On Newman as a paradigm for psychological consistency despite denominational migration, see Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 270–302.
(42.) Note the text, which does not speak of Christian doctrine so much as of a personal encounter with “my Jesus.”
(43.) Knox, 389–421. For a more appreciative account, see Wilhelm Bettermann, Theologie und Sprache bei Zinzendorf (Gotha, Germany: Klotz, 1935).
(44.) Friedrich Schiller, On the Aesthetic Education of Man, in a Series of Letters, trans. Reginald Snell (London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1954).
(45.) John Wesley, The Works of John Wesley, Vol. 18, ed. W. Reginald Ward and Richard P. Heitzenrater (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1988), 249–250.
(46.) Palmer, 2:466. Bernard Semmel, The Methodist Revolution (New York: Basic Books, 1973), finds Methodism (and by inference all Evangelical-style denominations) implicitly democratic; the 1906 classic Elie Halévy, The Birth of Methodism in England, trans. and ed. Bernard Semmel (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971), does not. The context for this issue, which is basic to American cultural history, is supplied by David Hempton, The Religion of the People: Methodism and Popular Religion, c. 1750–1900 (London: Routledge, 1996); by the masterful introduction to Sydney E. Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1972), 1–13, who, however, falters when, in treating the 20th century, he does not recognize how assimilated Catholics have become to the perfervid nationalism of much American Evangelical Protestantism; by the classic Robert E. Riegel and Robert G. Athearn, America Moves West, 5th ed. (New York: Holt, 1971), 140–148; and by the definitive Palmer.
(47.) Richard Crawford, America’s Musical Life (New York: Norton, 2001), 407–423.
(48.) Augustus Welby Pugin, Contrasts, or a Parallel between the Noble Edifices of the Middle Ages and the Corresponding Buildings of the Present Day, Showing the Present Decay of Taste (London: Charles Dolman, 1845).
(49.) Carole Silver, “Setting the Crooked Straight: The Work of William Morris,” in The Earthly Paradise: Arts and Crafts by William Morris and His Circle (Toronto: Key Porter, 1993), 1–17.
(50.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 173–187.
(51.) William Olesson, “The Context of the Music of Samuel Sebastian Wesley,” lecture, University of Nottingham, Conference on the Life and Music of Samuel and Samuel Sebastian Wesley, December 2003. See also Erik Routley, The Musical Wesleys (New York: Oxford University Press, 1968).
(52.) Charles Woodmason, The Carolina Backcountry on the Eve of the Revolution, ed. Richard J. Hooker (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1953), 20.
(53.) Peter Cartwright, The Autobiography of Peter Cartwright: The Backwoods Preacher, ed. W. P. Strickland (New York: Carlton and Porter, 1857); also Karen B. Westerfield Tucker, American Methodist Worship (New York: Oxford University Press, 2001); Mark Noll, A History of Christianity in the United States and Canada (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1992); and Sydney Ahlstrom, A Religious History of the American People, chs. 26–29.
(54.) Ahlstrom, A Religious History, 461.
(55.) Charles Grandison Finney, The Memoirs of Charles G. Finney: The Complete Restored Text, ed. Garth M. Rosell and Richard A. G. Dupuis (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan/Academie Books, 1989), 85–96.
(56.) As reported in Theodore Tilton, editor of The Independent, “Elizabeth Cady Stanton,” Sanctum Sanctorum (Indianapolis, IN: n.p., 1873), 260.
(57.) Finney, 136, 443–444; and Jay P. Dolan, Catholic Revivalism in the United States, 1830–1900 (Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press, 1977), 69–70.
(58.) See, for example, Orvilla S. Belisle, The Arch Bishop [sic]: Or, Romanism in the United States, 7th ed. (Philadelphia: Smith, 1855), a novel that virtually catalogues the Know-Nothing picture of Catholic practices.
(59.) Alexis de Tocqueville, “Principal Causes Which Render Religion Powerful in America,” Democracy in America [1835–1840], Vol. 1, ed. Francis Bowen and Phillips Bradley, trans. Henry Reeve (New York: Knopf, 1945), 308–314.
(60.) For an account with strong emphasis on the English scene, see Alan Dunstan, “Hymnody in Christian Worship,” in The Study of Liturgy, 507–519. See also Erik Routley, Hymns and Human Life (London: John Murray, 1952); and, for literary studies, Donald Davie, The Eighteenth-Century Hymn in England (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1993); J. Richard Watson, The English Hymn: A Critical and Historical Study (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); and his Annotated Anthology of Hymns (New York: Oxford University Press, 2002).
(61.) Martin Luther, Wittemberger Gesangbuch, foreword to the first edition , Publikationen älterer und theoretischer Musikwerke, 7 (Berlin: 1878), quoted in Oliver Strunk, ed., Source Readings in Music History (New York: Norton, 1950), 341. See also Paul Nettl, Luther and Music, trans. Frida Best and Ralph Wood (Philadelphia: Muhlenberg, 1948), 1–26.
(62.) Manfred F. Bukofzer, Music in the Baroque Era: From Monteverdi to Bach (New York: Norton, 1947), 291–300. See also Jaroslav Pelikan, Bach Among the Theologians (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986); and Christoph Wolff, Johann Sebastian Bach: The Learned Musician (New York: Norton, 2000).
(63.) See the amusing chapter on “practice verses” in Millar Patrick, Four Centuries of Scottish Psalmody (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), 164–178.
(64.) Louis F. Benson, The English Hymn: Its Development and Use in Worship (New York: George H. Doran, 1915), 48–55.
(65.) See Frank Baker, Representative Verse of Charles Wesley (Nashville, TN: Abingdon, 1962).
(66.) Bernard Lord Manning, The Hymns of Wesley and Watts (London: Epworth, 1942), 16.
(67.) Manning, The Hymns of Wesley and Watts, 133.
(68.) Dunstan, “Hymnody,” 518.
(69.) See Peter Horton, Samuel Sebastian Wesley, A Life (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2010), 159–161.
(70.) John Keble, Keble’s Lectures on Poetry 1832–1841, Vol. 1, ed. and trans. E. K. Francis (Oxford: Clarendon, 1912), 42–48; M. H. Abrams, The Mirror and the Lamp: Romantic Theory and the Critical Tradition (New York: Oxford University Press, 1953), 144–148; and Horton Davies, Worship and Theology in England, Vol. 3 : From Watts and Wesley to Maurice, 1690–1850 (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1961), 249–250.
(71.) Anthony Ruff, OSB, Sacred Music and Liturgical Reform: Treasures and Transformations (Chicago: Hillenbrand Books, 2007), 198–201.
(72.) See Day, Why Catholics Can’t Sing, 18–22 (“The Irish Way: The Green Mainstream”).
(73.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 137–138.
(74.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Considérations sur le gouvernement de la Pologne,” in Œuvres, 25 vols. (Paris: Dupont, 1823–1826), 5: 264.
(75.) Germani and Swales, Myths, Images, and Symbols.
(76.) Cornwell B. Rogers, The Spirit of Revolution in 1789: A Study of Public Opinion as Revealed in Political Songs and Other Popular Literature at the Beginning of the French Revolution (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1949), 57–58.
(77.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 33–75.
(78.) Romano Guardini, The Church and the Catholic, and The Spirit of the Liturgy, trans. Ada Lane (New York: Sheed and Ward, 1935), 171–184, here 177.
(79.) Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Dictionnaire de Musique (Paris: Duchesne, 1768), 302–303 (“Motet”); 373–379 (“Plain-chant”); cf. Œuvres, 12:451 and 13:85.
(80.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 140–141.
(81.) Martin Gerbert, De cantu et musica sacra a prima ecclesiae aetate usque ad praesens tempus, Vol. 2 (St. Blasien, Germany: 1774), 408–409.
(82.) For support of the present author’s interpretation, see Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 305–312.
(83.) Donakowski, A Muse for the Masses, 166–172.
(84.) See Cuthbert Johnson, Prosper Guéranger (1805– 1875): A Liturgical Theologian, Studia Anselmiana 89 (Rome, 1984). A concise statement of Guéranger’s developed liturgical principles can be found in the “general preface” to his multivolume The Liturgical Year, trans. Laurence Shepherd, Vol. 1: Advent (Westminster, MD: Newman, 1948), 1–19.
(85.) Ernest Sevrin, Dom Guéranger et Lammenais (Paris: Librairie Philosophique, 1933).
(86.) Hans Eckardt, Die Musikanschauung der französischen Romantik (Kassel, Germany: Bärenreiter, 1935), 41–42, citing a letter from Guéranger to A. Gontier.
(87.) Katherine Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments: The Revival of Gregorian Chant at Solesmes, California Studies in Nineteenth-Century Music 10 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998), 1–24.
(88.) Ernest Lee Tuveson, Redeemer Nation: The Idea of America’s Millennial Role (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1968).
(89.) Bergeron, Decadent Enchantments, 124–129.
(90.) Bernarr Rainbow, The Choral Revival in the Anglican Church 1839–1872 (London: Barrie and Jenkins, 1970). For “the renascence of Roman Catholic worship” in England in the 19th century, see Davies, 4:15–41.
(91.) James Garratt, Palestrina and the German Romantic Imagination: Interpreting Historicism in Nineteenth- Century Music (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2002).
(92.) Hugh McLeod, Class and Religion in the Late Victorian City (Hamden, CT: Archon, 1974), 248–249.
(93.) McLeod, Class and Religion, 250.
(94.) One is scarcely surprised to learn that cultural revolutionary like Dorothy Day or Pope Francis nourished their hearts and minds with that music-dominated imaginary world, opera, which word is the Latin plural for the Greek word for liturgy.