Wednesday, July 16, 2008

The Lost Arts

I read an article in Sacred Music Magazine today that got me thinking. The author stated that since the advent of recorded music in the 1920's and 30's, generations have grown up assuming that music is something "talented" people did. The rest merely listened.

This assumption has bled over into church music, even among Protestant denominations, long known for their joyous congregational singing. Even in church, it is thought that the choir, or the folk group will be "doing" the singing and that it is ok, and even expected for the congregation to sit back and listen.

Long gone are the families that sing together as a family past time. "Happy Birthday to You", the article stated, is the last holdover of group singing left in the United States. It is the only song that most people will join in when sung, without thinking about whether they have this nebulously perfect recorded singing voice. Any other form of music, many people assume they are unable to sing.

In centuries past, prayer was sung. Gregorian chant, sadly, has gone the way of the dinosaur in recent decades, although, thanks to organizations like the Church Music Association of America, it is being revived. Once a chant line is learned by a person or a group of people, any prayer, or Scripture can be sung using that musical line by anyone.

He who sings, prays twice.

This revelation made me think of drawing as well. Before mass media was developed, people learned to draw as a matter of course. It was something that one could do to learn to observe his/her surroundings, preserve a moment, and pass the time pleasantly. After my attempt at drawing a princess was ridiculed when I was in kindergarten, I never voluntarily took an art class again. It took me until I was grown to attempt to draw, and discover that, indeed, I can draw.

Singing and drawing are something that almost everyone has the ability to do in one form or another. Most of us have never developed the ability because we assumed we weren't given it.
Both can be done without a lot of extra gadgetry and no technology. Both are important.

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Dymphna's favorite quotes

"Slavery ended in medieval Europe only because the church extended its sacraments to all slaves and then managed to impose a ban on the enslavement of Christians (and of Jews). Within the context of medieval Europe, that prohibition was effectively a rule of universal abolition. "— Rodney Stark

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