IMC 2018: Sessions

Session 1654: Music and Memory in Monastic Contexts

Thursday 5 July 2018, 11.15-12.45

Moderator/Chair:Peter Jeffery, Department of Music & Sacred Music, University of Notre Dame, Indiana
Paper 1654-aCommemorative Liturgy and Community Membership: Towards a New Understanding of 12th-Century Monastic Confraternities
(Language: English)
Johan Belaen, Vakgroep Geschiedenis, Universiteit Gent
Index terms: Liturgy, Monasticism, Religious Life
Paper 1654-bApophatic Theology and Silent Memory in Late Medieval Singing
(Language: English)
Eliza Jane Cassey, Faculty of Music, University of Toronto, Downtown
Index terms: Monasticism, Music, Philosophy, Theology
Paper 1654-cMemory and Liturgy: Transformative Remembering in Bernard of Clairvaux
(Language: English)
Line Cecilie Engh, Istituto di Norvegia, Roma / Institutt for filosofi, ide- og kunsthistorie og klassiske språk, Universitetet i Oslo
Index terms: Language and Literature - Latin, Liturgy, Rhetoric, Sermons and Preaching

Paper -a:
Confraternities can best be defined as inter-monastic agreements that relied on the mutual commitment by two (or more) monastic communities to commemorate each other’s deceased members. Although indications of these agreements have survived through various types of sources (necrologies, charters, notices, lists etc.) it is still largely unknown what purpose they served. Traditionally, confraternities are seen as tools via which monastic communities expressed spiritual solidarity for each other. In this paper, however, I aim to show that the main function of installing liturgical commemoration for foreign monks was to grant local community membership, a status that went hand in hand with a large series of practical privileges. This hypothesis is based on the observation that contemporaries considered the monastic community to be a metaphysical association which continued to exist after the death of its members. Perpetual membership of this association could thus only be ensured through commemorative rituals.

Paper -b:
By considering the intersection of the theology of the Pseudo-Dionysius and the Neoplatonic concept of ‘knowledge as remembering’, and their resulting influences on late medieval monastic singing, this paper will examine how the use of deliberate silence in medieval chant performance not only reflected an intimate relationship between the bodies of the monks and the body of the architectural spaces in which they performed, but that this silence was heavy with theological significance as a manifestation of the apophatic, a spiritual practice involving negation of all mental concepts or linguistic utterances about God. In this way the monastic community sought self-alienation and unity with the divine not only through musical utterance but through its dialectical opposite, most explicitly in the use of silent pauses between the verses of psalms, known by the 14th century as the ‘media distinctio’. These were thought to generate a sense of interiority via the invitation, or inspiration, of the Holy Spirit, along with the subjective perception of ‘silent music’, a locus for the ‘remembering’ of the essential interplay between the inner and outer senses in the medieval proto-psychological zeitgeist.

Paper -c:
The medieval liturgy did not just commemorate events; it enacted them and made them present. Through liturgical worship the biblical, historical past became present and accessible in the here and now in such a way that something of the future eschatological fulfillment was anticipated and interiorized by the celebrant. This paper explores Cistercian liturgy and Bernard of Clairvaux’s liturgical sermons to interrogate into how remembering is a creative process of reimagining (cf. Coleman, Carruthers, Pranger), suggesting that they aimed to transform their audience’s identities by breaching boundaries of here and now, heaven and earth. Cistercians were adult converts, with extramural experiences and memories which Bernard – that remarkable cognitive engineer – deftly transformed into spiritual ones.