I'll say it again – the only really great things to come out of religion are structures such as cathedrals, religiously funded painting and sculpture, and sublime music such as the following. The high quality version is slower to download, but well worth the extra time.

Hmn, I'll grant that some interesting philosophy was generated in a vain attempt to justify the purported existence of the nonexistent. Nowadays, much stupidity is expended on equally vain attempts.

If you have watched "The Tudors" then you will have noticed Thomas Tallis.

I thought that the following comment from About Kitty was worth pasting into the 'main-frame':

It's beautiful now because we are not listening to the words. If you consider that it was intended to be sung as a hymn to reinforce peoples beliefs, it's like any other hymn.

However, I somehow doubt that someone will unearth a Kent Hovid video in 500
years and say "As long as you don't think about what he's saying, it's beautiful!" :-)

I have never put my hope in any other but in you,

O God of Israel

who can show both anger

and graciousness,

and who absolves all the sins of suffering man

Lord God,Creator of Heaven and Earth

be mindful of our humiliation


I sincerely hope that nobody will know of Kent Hovind in 50 years, let alone 500! Of course the greater portion of the beauty of Tallis' piece was undoubtedly in the music and performance, rather than in the words, even to his religious contemporaries. Only the educated and wealthy – equivalent in those days – would have understood the Latin. Any but the tone deaf could have responded to the beauty.

Here's the Latin

Spem in alium numquam habui praeter in te

Deus Israel

qui irasceris

et propitius eris et omnia peccata hominum in tribulatione dimittis

Domine Deus

Creator coeli et terrae

respice humilitatem nostram

One of Tallis' most famous compositions, the 40-voice Spem in alium, also alludes to a strong allegiance to Roman Catholicism, with its mix of voices both polyphonic and chordal. Spem is also a work with an interesting history in its own right. It was ostensibly the result of a challenge by one of the composer's supporters, the Catholic Thomas Howard, fourth Duke of Norfolk (executed not long after as the result of trumped-up charges accusing Norfolk of colluding with Mary Queen of Scots). The work challenged was Striggio's 40-part Ecce beatum lautam; the challenge was for an Englishman to produce a work that would excel this piece produced by an Italian. Tallis answered the challenge, perhaps to defend England's creative honour; or to prove himself as an old man still capable of creating great work; or to produce - like many composers - a masterwork which history would remember him by. At any rate, Tallis set to work answering Howard's challenge. And answer it he did: Apparently after its first performance at the palace of Nonsuch (or the Long Hall), owned by Henry Fitzalan, 12th Earl of Arundel, Spem in alium moved Thomas Howard enough to remove a heavy gold chain from around his neck, placing it around Tallis' own, thanking the older Thomas for the glorious piece he had crafted.

Whether Tallis was a subversive Catholic, following one faith professionally but the other one in private, or merely demonstrating a love of the old liturgy he knew as a child, one may never know for certain, but it is clear that Thomas Tallis' music stands up not just for its creative merit, but as a reflection of one man's response to the tumultuous - and often treacherous - politics of Tudor England. [source]

Victoria - O magnum mysterium . Tomas Luis Victoria - O Magnum Misterium (A4) 1572 . Allegri - Miserere - Part 1 . Allegri - Miserere - Part 2 .


Cat's Staff said...

I shouldn't say that it wouldn't have been beautiful then. The composition has qualities that we recognize as beautiful, and not just any hymn has them. I'm a big fan of O Magnum Mysterium (especially the Lauridsen arrangement).

salient said...

I listened quickly to a couple of versions, and liked this one on YT: "Victoria - O magnum mysterium"

I think that you are making a distinction between calling something beautiful (a matter of taste, surely) and that thing's possessing qualities recognized as beautiful....????

As an atheist, I have little acquaintance with the extant body of hymns, so I'll take your word that not all posess qualities recognized as beautiful.