Thursday, November 8
Inculturation Done Right
Messe des Jesuites de Pekin - Mass of the Jesuits in Beijing. Joseph-Marie-Amiot, XVIII-21 Musique des Lumieres.
"The Chinese, even in worship, need something with a strong appeal to the senses. Magnificent ornamentation, singing, processions, the sound of bells and musical instruments, church ceremonies, are all to their liking and draw them to divine worship." ~ R.P. Louis Le Comte, Noveaux memoires sur l'etat present de la Chine, Paris, 1696-1700.
[And to my liking, as well.]
From the liner notes: "Between 1741 and 1750, apart from a choir of 18 choirboys, the following instruments are mentioned at the court of emperor Qianlong: 10 violins, 2 violoncellos, 1 double-bass, 8 wind instruments, 4 ivory flutes, 7 lutes, 1 'set of bamboo pipes,' 1 bagpipe (?), 1 harpsichord. [...]
"...a Manchu scholar, who was one of the Prefects of the Congregation of Musicians of the Northern church (Beltang) of Peking, the church of the French Jesuits, founded in 1693 and demolished in 1872. The Congrgeation of Musicians, numbering about thirty young members, including several Manchu princes, would accompany important celebrations, the most spectacular of which was the feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus...
" 'After the motets, the censing and the prayers, there comes a short silence, ending with a symphony and a piece dedicated to the whole of humanity, as the priest turns for the blessing. It is impossible to resist the emotions of such a ceremony, given in the most idolatrous city in the world, and with the sword of persecution constrantly raised above our heads; even the hardest of hearts would gtive way during this last part, particularly if close enough to hear the sighs and sobs that are muffled by the music.' "