Sacred music should adhere to first principles - read this great article!
  • We may never quite put a stop to the pedestrian claim that music's quality, and especially the particular and distinguishing qualities of sacred music, are relative. Sacred music is high art, and it is inherently high art. Most importantly, it is art because it flows from objective principles and forms which develop in an organic fashion. Common music which fills many of todays church's can be said to be "mundane" and "unsingable," full of hard syncopations, poor voice leading and incorrect theology which render it bad music. However, it is the lack of form, and adherence to the principles of objectively good music which principally defines it as inartistic and not sacred. The lack of singability, difficult rhythms, and other characteristics pointed out by various commentators are but natural offspring of this first failure.

    True art is that which transcends the objective in order to convey the subjective; that is, to represent the inward significance and beauty of its object.

    That which transcends the objective forms to convey beauty of the highest order--that is, God--is sacred art.


    I recently came across this article which elucidates the interplay between objective form and subjective invention. It is about architecture, of all things! I truly think it can help us musicians to understand why the forms and first principles of music are important. It helped me!

    https://www.sacredarchitecture.org/articles/the_dance_of_rule_and_invention
  • Liam is spot on in everything he says.

    Oh, and thanks, Liam, also for the fine essay.


    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • CHGiffenCHGiffen
    Posts: 4,911
    I agree with MJO's assessment. If only more composers would seek to transcend objective forms - not always an easy task - and reveal the true beauty of sacred art.