Historian John W. O’Malley has recently outlined significant changes in the historiography of the Jesuits. These major shifts in Jesuit historiography in the early modern period have provided for more ample avenues of study vis-à-vis Jesuits and music. The last of O’Malley’s three ages of Jesuit historiography has had the most immediate effect: not only has it in itself encouraged the study of Jesuits and music, but also has broadened the cultural field enabling a number of different foci, previously beyond consideration. Recent studies, especially from the point of view of the expressions of popular piety, are producing insights into the identity of Jesuits from the perspectives or what they did. The significant corpus of music literature that musicologists are exploring and reflecting upon, promises both a fuller portrait of the Jesuits and their “way of proceeding,” and a richer understanding of the function of this music.
To understand recent developments in the study of Jesuits and music, and of the role music and sound had throughout the global Jesuit enterprise, it may be helpful to note the general shifts in the writing of Jesuit history that have taken place in the last thirty to fifty years.1 A volume published in 1999 entitled, The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences, and the Arts, 1540–1773, contained papers read at an international conference held at Boston College a short while earlier. Historian John W. O’Malley began the volume with a contribution entitled, “The Historiography of the Society of Jesus: Where Does It Stand Today?” O’Malley divided that historiography into three main periods: 1540 to c.1900; 1900 to c.1990; and the 1990s forward. Two characteristics of the first period are immediately evident: frequent and honest correspondence between center and periphery, and careful and systematic record keeping. These practices were established almost from the beginning of the Society at Ignatius of Loyola’s (c.1491–1556) insistence, as well as the determined efforts of his secretary Juan Alfonso de Polanco (1517–76). O’Malley noted that it is this tradition of regular communication, kept alive all the way through the history of the Society, that has provided historians yesterday and today with such a wealth of documentation on every aspect of Jesuit history.2
In these first years, Jesuit historical writings were influenced by philosophical and other criteria for dealing critically with historical sources that had been formulated in the Renaissance by Italian humanists such as Lorenzo Valla (1407–57), but they were perhaps even more deeply influenced by the canons of classical rhetoric (Cicero above all) also revived by the humanists.3 In this rhetorical tradition, history was defined as a branch of moral philosophy. Moral precepts and ideals were taught by historical examples of virtue and vice, in which the former ultimately prevailed over the latter. History was meant to teach moral lessons, to edify, and to inspire. Concerning this methodological principle the Jesuits were not very different from other historians of the era.4
The Jesuits however held the writing of the history of the Society firmly in their own hands, largely because few others were interested. Their story was one of hagiography and successes. They had to deal, of course, with anti-Jesuit polemical response, a phenomenon that began very early with the condemnation of the Society by the Faculty of Theology of Paris in 1554, only fourteen years after the foundation of the order. With the publication in 1614 of the Monita secreta, and then with the publication in mid-century of Blaise Pascal’s (1623–62) Provincial Letters and the works of Jansenist satirists and polemicists, the standard accusations against the Society, which would persist into the present, had been formulated and propelled into circulation.5 Important though such works are in an analysis of the historiography of the Society, they for the most part are not historical works per se.
Only in the post-restoration Society (after 1814) did the Jesuits bit by bit began to abandon the rhetorical model of history writing, thus establishing the second period of Jesuit historiography. Toward the end of the nineteenth century, a group of Spanish Jesuits lead by José María Vélez (1843–1902) began publishing in modern, critical editions the correspondence of Ignatius and related documents. This was the beginning of the large series, the Monumenta Historica Societatis Iesu. The first fascicle appeared in Madrid in 1894.6
There are at least four salient characteristics of this second period of Jesuit historiography. The most obvious is that the enterprise remained largely in Jesuit hands, even though other historians, Catholic and Protestant, also began writing about the Society of Jesus. This continues until the middle of the twentieth century. A second characteristic is the political and institutional focus of the historical writings about the Society. This focus is perhaps best understood by what it largely excluded. Important among the subjects weakly developed were the Jesuits’ cultural engagements in the pre-suppression Society. Certainly this includes the fine arts and music. In such history, even less account was taken of Jesuit spiritual teaching and practice. To be fair, the history of that crucial aspect of what made Jesuits do what they do, did not really get underway until the early years of the twentieth century. The posthumous publication of Joseph de Guibert’s (1877–1942) La spiritualité de la Compagnie de Jésus (1953) marked the beginning of this turn to spirituality. Late in this second period, many studies of Jesuit spirituality that have since then appeared remain a closed book for most historians, and perhaps most especially for art and music historians. (Recent scholarship, on the contrary, strives to view a subject from as many perspectives as possible: when one asks the question why did Jesuits involve themselves in the making of art, music, and drama, a complete understanding necessarily will include that which made Jesuits qua Jesuits, i.e. their spiritual teachings and practice).
A third salient characteristic of O’Malley’s second period is its Eurocentrism, somewhat in contrast with the first period, when the history of the Jesuit missions was vigorously cultivated. The emphasis is understandable, given the fact that the vast majority of Jesuits were Europeans. This Eurocentrism is more than a little ironic since the nineteenth century marked a second great wave of Jesuit missionary activity, partly due to a remarkable upsurge in enthusiasm for the example of Saint Francis Xavier, and partly due to Jesuits having to seek places of refuge after being expelled from their native lands, often repeatedly. For the historiography of the Society of Jesus during this period, no category was more important than “Counter-Reformation,” first formulated in the late eighteenth century by a German Protestant to indicate the political, diplomatic, and military operations that Catholic rulers, lay and clerical, put into motion to counter Protestant churches and related political powers. It was, however, soon expanded as an almost blanket definition of Catholicism in the early modern period. The category Counter-Reformation too had an obvious Eurocentric focus. In terms of the study of music in Jesuit missions, one needs to consider how Counter-Reformation attitudes were transformed in the New World and presented as part of the evangelization process.7 The fourth and final characteristic is a preoccupation with origins, that is, especially with Ignatius and with those directly associated with him. In this preoccupation, the Jesuits were once again like their counterparts and even like historians today. O’Malley has pointed out that historians tend to be more interested in beginnings than in “la longue durée.” But the Jesuits were further inclined to this preoccupation because they believed that their very identity was established for all times in those early years through the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius. This identity continues to today.8
The third period of Jesuit historiography is the last thirty years or so. O’Malley names a few characteristics of this new period that significantly distinguish it from the previous period. The first and perhaps the most important characteristic: the basic question has changed. The question all historians asked through the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was how the Jesuits were agents of the Counter-Reformation and/or reformers of the church in accordance with the provisions of the Council of Trent. That question is still valid and needs to be pursued. But we have now been liberated from the restraints that it suggested.9 The basic question now being asked is, what were the Jesuits like? How were they similar and dissimilar to their contemporaries? The categories surrounding Jesuits in history have become more fluid. Instead of the old polemics of Catholic (Jesuits) good, Protestants (Lutherans) bad, a more value-free or neutral hermeneutic, at least for most historians working on the Society of Jesus today, has occurred and now prevails in the academy.
Second, the basic focus has to some extent changed. Study of the Jesuits was considered an aspect of church history, which was a study of ecclesiastical institutions such as the papacy, the councils (for Jesuit history, the Council of Trent), synods and inquisitions, basically a history “from above.” Historians have broadened their focus beyond church to religion, so as to include so-called popular devotion and lay piety: the burst of scholarship on late-medieval and early modern confraternities is the best indication of how this new focus has affected historiography about Catholicism. We now see that many, perhaps most Christians sought their religious devotion in self-determining associations, confraternities, and in the churches of the religious orders rather than in parishes, which were the great focus of the Council of Trent. We are now much interested in history “from below.” What this means for the Jesuits is that it allows us to look at them less as ecclesiastical agents, more as practitioners and promoters of traditional practices of the Christian religion.10 When the Jesuits early on decided to operate schools for laymen according to the educational principles of Renaissance humanists such as Erasmus (1466–1536) and his Italian predecessors, they in fact, if not in theory, undertook for themselves a cultural mission. It was because of their commitment to such schools that they became poets, dramatists, dance theorists, and theatrical entrepreneurs, artists, and musicians.
The third focus manifests a great shift from a European to a multi-cultural and global perspective. This is a reprise of the mission history cultivated in the first period, but now undertaken with new questions and methods. Perhaps most important, scholars no longer see the Jesuits only as agents but as persons engaged, wittingly or unwittingly, in reciprocal processes. They acted and were acted upon. Although the reciprocal character of Jesuit interaction might seem more obvious when the Jesuits landed in cultures that were new to them, especially in the highly developed civilizations such as Japan and China, we now see it as characteristic of everything they undertook.11 Surely, the most immediately striking characteristic of this third period of Jesuit historiography is the sheer quantity of a high-quality scholarship on the Jesuits that has occurred in the past twenty years. A brief look at an online digital library like jstor (http://www.jstor.org/) or at the New Sommervogel Online (http://bibliographies.brillonline.com/browse/nso) will reveal an immense bibliography concerning the Jesuits. What is to account for this explosion? The solid groundwork laid by earlier historians is surely important. Important too is that Jesuits were involved in almost every conceivable facet of religion and culture—there is something in the history of the Jesuits to satisfy every type of historian. Key is the fact that the general practice of the historical profession has changed in recent decades, broadening the scope of the historian’s craft and opening our eyes to aspects of the past to which we had been virtually blind or which we saw only through distorted lenses. We have surely entered a new period of historical study of the Society of Jesus, pursued by scholars from around the globe making use of an astounding array of disciplines and methods. This history is now pursued for the most part by non-Jesuits, a notably significant change from even twenty-five years ago. The change that occurred could be characterized as one from a Jesuit historiography dominated by writers who were “insiders” to a historiography now dominated by writers who are “outsiders.”
The work of O’Malley has been indispensable in arriving at an appreciation of the new historiography of the Society of Jesus, but what of these historiographical trends within the study of music? The first serious studies of music that begin to conform to the characteristics of O’Malley’s third period of Jesuit historiography are the works of two Jesuit musicologists trained in the mid-twentieth century, Thomas D. Culley and Clement J. McNaspy.12 McNaspy, originally a chant scholar and liturgist, was Culley’s teacher and mentor. Culley’s dissertation at Harvard (1965), at its publication in 1970 became an authoritative archive study of the musical tradition at the German College in Rome. In the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries some of the finest musicians in Rome worked at the college where the musical tradition was carefully cultivated by successive rectors. What surprised musicologists at the time was that Culley’s work championed the cause of a relatively unknown and new seminary sponsored by the likewise new Society of Jesus (1540) heretofore not suspected as a champion of music, in fact quite the contrary. Culley’s work was the first modern study of Jesuits and music to move away from the study of a major ecclesiastical institution, and move toward a local tradition as it was developing. By the 1980s, several dissertations and some articles began to flow referencing Jesuits and music.13
In 1997, among a series of articles on music in the new world published by the Revista del Instituto de Estudios Andinos y Amazónicos, several articles by Leonardo Waisman, Bernardo Illari, and Carlos Seoane showcased, via the Jesuit mission music of Paraguay, how the new historiographical trends of Jesuit studies were reflected in musicology.14 Likewise, Jesuit studies in 1999 and 2006 witnessed the publication of a number of music papers from two conferences on Jesuits and culture that both occurred at Boston College. The 1999 volume contained five articles on various aspects of Jesuits and music, while the 2006 volume contained another four. In volume one of The Jesuits: Cultures, Sciences and the Arts, 1540–1773, articles on the academic defenses at Rome and how they were celebrated; Athanasius Kircher (1602–80), the Jesuit polymath; music in the Paraguay reductions; the use of music in the catechism in Brazil in the Society’s very early history; and Jesuit music in Manila, 1581–1621, all described a global musical tradition that developed within an intercultural and interdisciplinary framework.15 The second volume contained articles on music and censorship; music in the Jesuit theater in sixteenth-century Bavaria; sung catechism and college opera in colonial Chile; and Jesuit opera in seventeenth-century Vienna.16 Once again the categories reveal the movement away from a vertical dimension of study of great institutions to more horizontal concern of local music in the evangelization process.
In 2012, a significant contribution to the study of Jesuits and music appeared with the publication of La musica dei semplici: L’altra Controriforma, edited by Italian historian Stefania Nanni. It is important not because all of the articles in the monograph are about Jesuits and music, but rather because of the kind of comparative studies that are represented in the volume.17 Titles of four of the twenty-two articles directly refer to the Jesuits’ use of music in their apostolic endeavors, but the vast majority of the articles cross paths with Jesuit works in one way or another. Some indeed are comparative studies, particularly within various confraternities in both the north and south of Italy, as well as in Rome. Musical practices of other religious orders (Oratorians, Franciscans, Redemptorists) and post-expulsion Jesuit missions in the ancient Jesuit province of Paraguay (Bolivia, Chiquitos) stand alongside various perspectives of catechetical procedures using music during the post-Tridentine period. A consideration of the Lazarist Father Teodorico Pedrini’s (1671–1746) use of music in China in the eighteenth century is in many ways enlightening as it paralleled Jesuit practice in Beijing during the same period.18 These works richly weave and contextualize Jesuit musical practice within various local communities as Western music theory encountered Chinese music theory. Such comparative studies contribute a much fuller portrait of how popular spiritual practices developed in the Chinese Christian community in a local fashion which reflected a “primitive” type of globalization, or rather a sensitivity to inculturation operating well before the modern invention of the principle.
Finally, there are three examples of ongoing research representing the kind of historiographical writing that is proving fertile and helpful in understanding the role of music and sound in the Jesuit enterprise. All three of these examples are from the 2014 academic year. Two of these are symposia and one is a newly published book. The first example is from a conference held in New York City in March of 2014 under the auspices of the Renaissance Society of America. A session entitled “The Social Impact of Jesuit Music in Early Modern Europe” contained papers by three European scholars, Daniele Filippi (Milan, Italy), Tomasz Jeż (Warsaw, Poland), and Peter Leach (Swansea, uk). Filippi’s paper concentrated on three early seventeenth-century Jesuits who worked in both the rural and urban missions of Italy, using music as an effective didactic tool, singing the catechism, not only to teach, but also to hold the attention of the crowd, where unanimous participation was a goal. Communal singing was a tangible form of participation, rich in symbolic and practical implications. These sonic phenomena shaped the collective identities and also helped to re-orientate popular traditions.19 If the post-Tridentine era can, in one way, be seen as part of a massive theological face-lift to medieval popular religious practices, then this serious re-orientation of popular traditions represents a theology of continuation that reconciles and includes the past much in the same way that musical composition does. Every composer begins with the same materials and builds, consciously or not, on the previous compositional style to create a new expression that delineates in a new way another aspect of human identity.
In a second paper entitled, “Strategies of Time Regulation in the Jesuit Music Culture of Early Modern Europe,” Tomasz Jeż proposed that the Jesuits’ use of music in their ministries was primarily to achieve the regulation of time of both individuals and communities in order to influence and transform social circles.20 Evident here is the concern for the social milieu that virtually characterizes the Jesuit enterprise wherever one encounters it. Jesuits in the early modern period were creating culture, often through the artistic activities that they sponsored. In Silesia, and somewhat surprisingly, the Jesuits adopted the rhythms of liturgical life, but constantly supplemented these with new cycles of worship, and events connected with their educational and community-building activities. It was also a way for the Jesuits to connect the civil and religious life of the people. The time-shaping potential of music resulted from the nature of its architectonics and its performance practice, which measured out a sacralized (not only sacred) time. The recurrence of cultural/religious actions strengthened the persuasiveness of their formative content. The third paper by Peter Leech addressed the issue of Jesuit music in his discussion of a virtually unknown Jesuit drama in England, Sanctus Tewdricus sive pastor bonus. He situated this drama in the wider context of Jesuit theater and contended that the authors, well aware of contemporary political events, considered the work an allegorical response to the specific situation of early modern Catholicism in England.21
More recently at Boston College, in July 2014, an international conference entitled, “Listening to Early Modern Catholicism” provided the occasion for a gathering of eighteen musicologists to consider this topic while attempting to pose questions that would go beyond the usual musicological perspective towards a more interdisciplinary one. Areas of study that musicologists might not usually reference were suggested for consideration, both within each paper as well as for collective discussion: 1) Identity, Religious life, Confessional confrontation; 2) Liturgy, Urban society, Catechism, Printed media; 3) New pastoral strategies, Confraternities, Popular piety; 4) Missions.22 Within the dynamics of this conference a clear insight emerged to the participants that elucidated for us the need of serious interdisciplinary considerations when evaluating the Jesuit enterprise of the early modern period. One cannot omit considerations of spirituality, theology, education, cultural studies, including gender studies, without sacrificing a fuller understanding of the meaning of the Jesuit enterprise in its globalized presence in the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries. While the musicologist can study and write about the significance and cultural meanings embedded in musical scores, similar to historical studies of any particular field, he is also reflecting on the art form of music as a sound phenomenon, if not to say a further philosophical reflection on human identity. When discussing the music of early modern Catholicism, the scholar is delving into the aural expression of the art, a perspective not captured by the notation on the printed page. For a more full consideration of the present stage of musicological studies around the soundscape of early modern Catholicism, research needs to capture not only the written aspects of the musical score, but when possible aural aspects as well.
Finally, a new book published in 2014 by Saint Joseph’s University Press in its series “Early Modern Catholicism and the Visual Arts” clearly represents the present Jesuit historiographical trends.23 Music as Cultural Mission is a prime example of how the shift from strictly Western concerns to a global and multicultural perspective and the influence of non-Jesuit historians have not only shaped the Jesuit historiography of recent years, but have likewise influenced musicology and writing on Jesuits and music. Part 1 acts as an introduction to the Jesuit cultural mission in early modern Italy, especially Milan and Naples. Part 2 shifts the focus to North America and some reflections on contemporary performance practice of Jesuit musical and dramatic works from the pre-suppression Society. The book clearly shows that the Jesuits were busy creating local culture in their apostolic works all over the world, whether in rural Italy, China, Latin America, the Philippines, or even in late eighteenth- and early nineteenth-century Washington, dc.
These examples represent but a small part of the varied and intense musicological work on what until a few years ago was an unexplored area. What I hope to show is that the historiographical shifts that have defined Jesuit studies in the last twenty-five years have also caused shifts in the way musicologists write about Jesuits and music. The globalized perspective that the Society of Jesus possessed early in its history and the order’s near omnipresence in what the Jesuits themselves described as “the vast vineyard of the Lord,” realized by scholars now more than ever, invites musicologists into a kind of interdisciplinary work that is surely necessary when writing about any history of the Society of Jesus.
See John W. O’Malley“Early Modern Catholicism: The State of Research,” in Listening to Early Modern Catholicismed. Daniele V. Filippi T. Frank Kennedy and Michael Noone (Leiden: Brill forthcoming). For Cicero see Robert A. Maryks Saint Cicero and the Jesuits: The Influence of the Liberal Arts on the Adoption of Moral Probabilism (Aldershot Burlington: Ashgate 2008).
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See)| false , John W. O’Malley “Early Modern Catholicism: The State of Research,”in , ed. Daniele V. Filippi, T. Frank Kennedy, and Michael Noone (Leiden: Brill, forthcoming). For Cicero, see Robert A. Maryks, Saint Cicero and the Jesuits: The Influence of the Liberal Arts on the Adoption of Moral Probabilism(Aldershot, Burlington: Ashgate, 2008).
O’Malley“Historiography of the Society of Jesus” 24–26. See also John W. O’Malley Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era (Cambridge ma: Harvard University Press 2000) and O’Malley Trent: What Happened at the Council (Cambridge ma: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press 2013). See also Hubert Jedin Geschichte des Konzils von Trient 4 vols. in 5 tomes (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder 1949–75).
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, O’Malley 24–26. See also John W. O’Malley, Trent and All That: Renaming Catholicism in the Early Modern Era(Cambridge, ma: Harvard University Press, 2000) and O’Malley, Trent: What Happened at the Council(Cambridge, ma: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2013). See also Hubert Jedin, Geschichte des Konzils von Trient, 4 vols. in 5 tomes (Freiburg im Breisgau: Herder, 1949–75).