onsdag 17 oktober 2012

Catholic Pentecostalism

Catholic Pentecostalism, otherwise known as the charismatic renewal movement, is characterised by a particular style of worship which has much in common with Protestant Pentecostal practice. I do not want to talk about it except to say this. The Catholic church is, and always has been, a Pentecostal church. And traditional Catholic worship is Pentecostal.

This is particularly so when Latin is used and sung to Gregorian chant melodies. The fact that the Latin words are not immediately understandable means that one has no option but to let go and accept the sound. And the sounds of Latin are very particular, with pure open vowels alternating with simple consonants, and almost entirely lacking in the compound vowel sounds found in the Germanic languages or the complex consonts that characterise the Slavonic languages. Latin vocals are produced by opening the mouth and throat and letting the sound emerge on the breath. Thus it becomes a form of speaking in tongues.

Gregorian chant makes full use of this through the use of the feature known as the Jubilus, a single syllable sung to extended sequence of notes as in the Easter Alleluia above, where the words "Alleluia" itself, "Dominus","exsultemus" and "ea" have this feature. Significantly, the Protestant Reformation brought with it music characterised by the exact antithesis, with one note per syllable being held up as an idea. Alleluia is of course Hebrew for "Praise the Lord", the constant repetition of which is one of the marks of Pentecostal worship. Thus, traditional Catholic worship is Pentecostal.

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