Sunday, February 27, 2011


I just finished reading an article on musicology and Henry VIII.  I always incorporate music and material culture into my History courses - but seldom see good historical research into these.

Here is the official stuff:

Early Music History (2010) Volume 29. 􏰀 Cambridge University Press 

S A C R E D P O L Y P H O N Y 

‘ N O T U N D E R S T A N D I D ’ : M E D I E V A L 
E X E G E S I S , R I T U A L T R A D I T I O N A N D 
H E N R Y V I I I ’ S R E F O R M A T I O N 
For John Caldwell 
This study focuses on the ritual ‘conservatism’ of Henry VIII’s Reformation through a new look at 
biblical exegeses of the period dealing with sacred music. Accordingly, it reconsiders the one extant 
passage of rhetoric to come from the Henrician regime in support of traditional church polyphony, as 
found in A Book of Ceremonies to be Used in the Church of England, c.1540. Examining 
the document’s genesis, editorial history and ultimate suppression by Archbishop Thomas Cranmer, it 
is shown that Bishop Richard Sampson, Dean of the Chapel Royal (1522–40), was responsible for 
the original drafting of the musical paragraph. Beginning with Sampson’s printed commentaries on the 
Psalms and on the Epistles of St Paul, the literary precedents and historical continuities upon which 
Sampson’s topos in Ceremonies was founded are traced in detail. Identified through recurring patterns 
of scriptural and patristic citation, and understood via transhistorical shifts in the meaning of certain 
key words (e.g. iubilare), this new perspective clarifies important origins of the English church’s 
musical ‘traditionalism’ on the eve of the Reformation. Moreover, it reveals a precise species of exegetical 
method – anagogy – as the literary vehicle through which influential clergy were able to justify 
expansions and elaborations of musical practice in the Western Church from the high Middle Ages to 
the Reformation. 

It is the term anagogy which particularly caught my eye.  Meaning roughly [read the article to get the nuances explicated] a form of theology dealing with that which draws the Christian from things of this world to those of the unseen reality - principally music, which has the capacity of wordless praise, causing the iubilare - the shout of pure, wordless joy on encountering the divine.  Lots to think about here!

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