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Both from the Ears and MindThinking about Music in Early Modern England$
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Linda Phyllis Austern

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226701592

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226704678.001.0001

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Debating Godly Music

Debating Godly Music

Sober and Lawful Christian Use

(p.41) Chapter Two Debating Godly Music
Both from the Ears and Mind

Linda Phyllis Austern

University of Chicago Press

This chapter extends rhetorical and dialectical engagement with music into debates over appropriate use in Christian worship, meditation, and the moral life. Beyond predictable sectarian lines, and rival interlocutors who re-contextualized the same inherited wisdom about music and the sacred, stand some surprising alliances, hints of cross-confessional musical tourism, and occasionally uneasy mergers of sacred and secular musical styles and genres. Music was considered the most artificial and delicate object of the sense of hearing, capable of leading people either to, or diametrically away from, divine contemplation. Located at the intersection between the body’s interior and exterior, the ear became an especially contested site among theologians, moralists, pamphleteers, and civic leaders with competing agendas who emphasized its literal and metaphorical position between the sensate body and interior faculties of the soul. Many warned about the dangers of indiscriminate listening in terms of poison, theft, or sexual violence to the perpetually open ear, and others expressed anxieties about the capacity of music to effeminate listeners, especially men.

Keywords:   body-soul dichotomy, cognitive lingusitics, church music, ecstasy, English Reformation, eroticism, hearing, listening, metaphor, mind-body dualism

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