A Sound Doctrine: Early Modern Jesuits and the Singing of the Catechism
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The musical activities connected with the teaching of Christian doctrine in the early modern era have failed to attract substantial scholarly attention. In fact, the noteworthy and by no means obvious association between singing and catechism is a longue durée phenomenon, and one of the most ubiquitous and characteristic elements of Catholic sonic cultures in the period 1550–1800. Interconnected as these practices are with many different aspects of early modern culture, their study raises questions and offers insights not only on musical issues, but on problems of interdisciplinary relevance. The present essay discusses their role in the pastoral work of early modern Jesuits and, conversely, the role of the Society of Jesus in the development of this tradition. Three different phases are examined: the export of the method from Spain to Italy in the sixteenth century; its adaptation to the French environment in the early seventeenth century; its further development in the golden age of popular missions.