What’s Wrong with the World

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What’s Wrong with the World is dedicated to the defense of what remains of Christendom, the civilization made by the men of the Cross of Christ. Athwart two hostile Powers we stand: the Jihad and Liberalism...read more

Sacred Music Colloquium XX

The man that hath not music in himself,
Nor is not mov’d with concord of sweet sounds,
Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils;

-William Shakespeare, Merchant of Venice (V.1)

Thus does the Christendom College website introduce its music program to prospective students. The quote intimidates, attracting the right sort and repelling the wrong sort right out of the gate.

I’m writing from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, at the conclusion of a glorious week at the CMAA’s Sacred Music Colloquium held at Duquesne University. I’m not musical myself, but am here with my musical son, age fifteen, for whom the sacred music of the Christian West has become a fiery passion.

If you have children interested in sacred music, don’t miss the opportunity to get them to the Colloquium. The academic instruction is first rate and the cost is shockingly affordable. There are classes and workshops for all levels of competence. Attendees are immersed in the liturgical life of the Church – Lauds, Compline, and Holy Mass are sung daily, in both English and Latin, giving one a taste of the discipline of religious life. Some exposure to the Latin language and the ability to read music is recommended prior to attending.

Perhaps the best part about this experience for young people is simply being surrounded by a community of civilized, courteous, and cultured Christian adults. Here they will observe not individuals in isolation, or families on their best behavior at an afternoon church function, but a large group living together 24/7. The lessons are invaluable: fortitude and discipline (it's a rigorous and challenging week), innumerable courtesies and kindnesses, unaffected prayer and piety, females modestly dressed, wholesome good humor, a gentle and humane social hierarchy, humility in conversation, friendliness in disagreement, the art of neither taking nor giving offense, tolerance of eccentricities, in short, the thousand little habits of civility that are vanishing all around us as our society rejects its spiritual, cultural and religious patrimony.

It seems unlikely, at this point, that cultural restoration is going to come about through politics. On the contrary, the social order is helped the most by the “private” decisions of individuals, families and communities to embrace and pursue not political or economic success, but Truth and Beauty and Goodness in every sphere of life. If the contemplation and worship of God is the highest activity of man, then nothing else is going to be rightly ordered until the cult of western culture is set aright. To that end, the restoration of sacred music in our churches is a high priority indeed, and we who are fighting to defend “what remains of Christendom” owe the musicians and scholars of the CMAA our profound gratitude.

Comments (4)

Jeff, hope you liked Pittsburgh! The conference sounds great. Wish I'd have known about it. Were there any sessions open to the public?

I have had my eye on this or the Christendom stuff for a couple years, but my family is pretty busy in the summer. All my kids sing, thanks to my wife who has excellent pipes. I myself earn money with my voice - they pay me NOT to sing. But my kids learn latin choral music and chant both at home and in choir, so I think they would love one of these opportunities.

Rob G: What I saw of Pittsburgh I liked very much. Lovely tree-covered hills and colonial architecture. And Catholic churches in every direction! This must have been quite the bastion of Catholicism in its heydey. None of the sessions were open to the public, unfortunately, as the classrooms were already full. However, all the sung masses at Church of the Epiphany were open to the public, as well as Vespers on Thursday (which was just incredible: http://www.chantcafe.com/2010/06/vespers-of-holy-cross.html ). There were quite a few people from St. Boniface in attendance.

Tony: I really hope you can send your children in the coming years. Quite a few of the attendees have homeschooling backgrounds. You won't be disappointed.

"This must have been quite the bastion of Catholicism in its heyday."

Yes, due primarily to the large influx of European immigrants who came to work in the mills and factories. Not only loads of RC churches, but lots of Eastern Catholics and Orthodox as well. For example the little town of Ambridge, slightly west of Pittsburgh, at one time had at least 2 large Catholic parishes, 2 Eastern Catholic parishes, 5 Orthodox churches, 1 Coptic church, and any number of Protestant churches. And all in a town of under 15,000. That's very typical of southwestern Pa. in general.

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