Thursday, 29 April 2010

What has Athens to do with Jerusalem?

This exposition of the relationship between philosophy and theology is taken from one of St. Thomas Aquinas’s lesser-known works, the commentary on Boethius’s De Trinitate (Q.2 a.3). Since I don't know of any better succinct treatment of this matter I thought it would be fun reproducing this in full here.

This translation is taken from this marvellous site, but it’s worth noting that it’s included in Ralph MacInerny’s excellent collection of Selected Writings.

I answer that it must be said that gifts of grace are added to those of nature in such a way that they do not destroy the latter, but rather perfect them; wherefore also the light of faith, which is gratuitously infused into our minds, does not destroy the natural light of cognition, which is in us by nature. For although the natural light of the human mind is insufficient to reveal those truths revealed by faith, yet it is impossible that those things which God has manifested to us by faith should be contrary to those which are evident to us by natural knowledge. In this case one would necessarily be false: and since both kinds of truth are from God, God would be the author of error, a thing which is impossible. Rather, since in imperfect things there is found some imitation of the perfect, though the image is deficient, in those things known by natural reason there are certain similitudes of the truths revealed by faith. Now, as sacred doctrine is founded upon the light of faith, so philosophy depends upon the light of natural reason; wherefore it is impossible that philosophical truths are contrary to those that are of faith; but they are deficient as compared to them. Nevertheless they incorporate some similitudes of those higher truths, and some things that are preparatory for them, just as nature is the preamble to grace.

If, however, anything is found in the teachings of the philosophers contrary to faith, this error does not properly belong to philosophy, but is due to an abuse of philosophy owing to the insufficiency of reason. Therefore also it is possible from the principles of philosophy to refute an error of this kind, either by showing it to be altogether impossible, or not to be necessary. For just as those things which are of faith cannot be demonstratively proved, so certain things contrary to them cannot be demonstratively shown to be false, but they can be shown not to be necessary.

Thus, in sacred doctrine we are able to make a threefold use of philosophy:

  1. First, to demonstrate those truths that are preambles of faith and that have a necessary place in the science of faith. Such are the truths about God that can be proved by natural reason—that God exists, that God is one; such truths about God or about His creatures, subject to philosophical proof, faith presupposes.
  2. Secondly, to give a clearer notion, by certain similitudes, of the truths of faith, as Augustine in his book, De Trinitate, employed any comparisons taken from the teachings of the philosophers to aid understanding of the Trinity.
  3. In the third place, to resist those who speak against the faith, either by showing that their statements are false, or by showing that they are not necessarily true.

Nevertheless, in the use of philosophy in sacred Scripture, there can be a twofold error:

  • In one way, by using doctrines contrary to faith, which are not truths of philosophy, but rather error, or abuse of philosophy, as Origen did.
  • In another way, by using them in such manner as to include under the measure of philosophy truths of faith, as if one should be willing to believe nothing except what could be held by philosophic reasoning; when, on the contrary, philosophy should be subject to the measure of faith, according to the saying of the Apostle (2 Cor. 10:5), “Bringing into captivity every understanding unto the obedience of Christ.”

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

I Love Philosophy, Slight Return

I conclude that although God could not create a grin that never belonged and never will belong to any cat, still, by direct intervention in nature and suspension of its operation, he could deprive the grin of its cat.

David Oderberg, “Real Essentialism” p 156.

Monday, 26 April 2010

I Love Philosophy

A hole in the ground is not a presence but an absence…this does not mean you cannot fall into a hole, or that when you do you are only falling into a logical construction!

David Oderberg, “Real Essentialism” p 105.

Sunday, 25 April 2010


Over on in hoc signo vinces, madame evangelista asks “what you believe hell to be?” I must admit that it’s not something I think about very often and so my answer is probably going to be a little inchoate. But let’s start with Joseph Ratzinger at the start of chapter seven of the second edition of his “Eschatology

No quibbling helps here: the idea of eternal damnation, which had taken ever cleared shape in the Judaism of the century or two before Christ, has a firm place in the teaching of Jesus, as well as in the apostolic writings. Dogma takes its stand on solid ground when it speaks of the existence of Hell and of the eternity of its punishments.

When we look for definitive dogmatic teaching from the magisterium, there is surprisingly little (showing an awareness, perhaps, of the latitude of interpretation possible of the data of revelation). De fide, we know that it is the consequence of unrepented grievous sin; that it involves some form of punishment that lasts for all eternity. From the Athanasian Creed we learn that all those who have done evil will “go into eternal fire” and from Benedict XII (in the dogmatic constitution Benedictus Deus) we learn that the damned will be “tormented by the pains of hell”.

So, whatever it is, it is not pleasant. However, it is important to note that the language used in magisterial teaching using images of torment is rarely defined (in the dogmatic sense). For example, the idea of eternal fire is lifted straight from scripture; but we must be aware that the form that such eternal fire takes has to be metaphysically consistent with the state of existence of the damned in hell. Before the last judgement the occupants of hell are separated souls (i.e. pure forms); after the last judgement they have resurrection bodies (the form of which is itself a matter of much theological speculation). To see some of St. Thomas’s opinions on how this effects what “eternal fire” could be, take a look at what he writes in the summa contra gentiles about “How incorporeal substances may suffer from bodily fire” and at the section from the supplement to the summa theologiae on “The punishment of the damned”.

My own views follow the scholastic analysis that identifies the “pain of loss” (poena damni) and the “pain of sense” (poena sensus), with the first being the primary agony of hell. As the catechism puts it (para 1035) “The chief punishment of hell is the eternal separation from God”. As our supernatural end is the beatific vision of God, the eternal frustration of that end barring our way to actualizing us as we should be, what our hearts long for, is a truly awful prospect. About the poena sensus, I really have very little to say other than it exist and that to downplay it is probably mistaken; but much seems to be speculation to me.

Saturday, 24 April 2010


The sun is shining brightly on the cave this morning, slowly burning away the early mist and dew; there is promise of a glorious day ahead. What better circumstances could one wish for to start a new heresy?

David Oderberg, in chapter 5 of his excellent “Real Essentialism”, considers some of the standard criticisms against the metaphysical definition of human beings as rational animals. (Where “animal” is considered the genus and “rationality” provides the specific difference that defines the species). What then would we make of the discovery of a rational parrot? What would we make of the discovery of rational alien creatures (which Oderberg refers to as “ranimals”)? Would we have to revise our understanding of what it is that makes us human?

After going through the problems associated with what one might consider the obvious solutions, Oderberg arrives at the striking answer that we should consider such ranimals to be human beings. He points out that our initial resistance to such an idea derives from being used to thinking of biological classification in terms of historical evolution. What is really required is to think in metaphysical terms rather than biological terms. I can’t really do justice to his argument here, but thinking about striking up a conversation with a parrot might lead one to consider that what Oderberg argues is quite reasonable. After all, a lengthy conversation with a parrot about whether Wayne Rooney is really going to be fit for the world cup may convince one (Turing test style) that one is addressing a human being (especially if the physical characteristics of said parrot were disguised).

Would such ranimal human beings be subject to the consequences of the fall? Of course, all creation is subject to the fall, but I’m referring here to the consequences associated with man. At its fifth session, the Council of Trent taught that the sin of Adam was transmitted to the whole human race (among whom, presumably, we must now count ranimals). Moreover, the Council taught that this one sin was transmitted by propagation (propagatione, non imitatione transfusam omnibus). How then might we understand the “propagation” of original sin from Adam to non homo sapiens human beings? Perhaps the creation account in Genesis can be taken as ruling out the possibility of ranimals. Likewise, the constant teaching of the church against polygenism makes the idea of a ranimal problematic (see Humani generis, 37)

But are there ways of understanding the deposit of faith that do not do violence to the understanding that the Church has of that deposit, but which allow for and explain the salvation history of ranimals?

(n.b. If this speculation is heretical, the likelihood of it being a new heresy is small; there is nothing new under the sun.)

Thursday, 22 April 2010

Thought for the Day

What right believing Christian can doubt that in the very hour of the sacrifice, at the words of the Priest, the heavens be opened, and the quires of Angels are present in that mystery of Jesus Christ; that high things are accomplished with low, and earthly joined to heavenly, and that one thing is made of visible and invisible.

Pope Gregory the Great, Dialogues, Quoted in David Hiley, “Gregorian Chant”.

Wednesday, 21 April 2010

On the Supernatural

So what is the controversy over the supernatural about? Famously, St Paul tells us that “Ever since the creation of the world His eternal power and divine nature, invisible though they are, have been understood and seen through the things He has made.” (Rom 1:20). So God is knowable to us and should be known by the light of natural human reason. Indeed, Thomas Aquinas starts his great summa theologiae with such a rational metaphysical demonstration of God’s existence and of His attributes knowable to such natural theology.

So, it is quite uncontroversial to say that humans can infer some notion of the divine from the created world. If we add to that the message of revelation then it is quite clear that, as far as the intellect is concerned, we are aware of our ultimate end in the beatific vision. As all things are ordered towards their end by the very nature of things, we can infer that humans can have a natural desire (of some sort) for the supernatural.

The big question is: what is the nature of this natural desire for the supernatural? What I’ve described so far is often called the elicited natural desire for the supernatural. Our intellects, informed by reason and revelation, become aware of our supernatural end and this intellectual knowledge elicits a natural desire for that end. However, might it be possible that this natural desire for our supernatural end is also innate within us? Is it of our very natures, our essences, to be ordered to the supernatural prior to any knowledge of the supernatural?

The answer to this question has divided theologians for the best part of a millennium. We find illustrious names lined up supporting the notion of an innate natural desire for the supernatural: Duns Scotus; Durandus; Domingo de Soto; Bellarmine; Jansenius; and recently, Henri de Lubac. On the other side, claiming that our natural desire for the supernatural is elicited but not innate is a long list of those who would identify themselves as Thomists such as Banez, Suarez, Vasquez, the Salmanticenses and, in the twentieth century such famous figures as Maritain and Garrigou-Lagrange.

The flash point in the twentieth century was the publication of Henri de Lubac’s “Surnaturel” in which he defended the idea of an innate natural desire for the supernatural. What made the debate so acrimonious was (among other things!) that de Lubac claimed that the Thomist tradition itself had misunderstood St. Thomas and that the latter had taught that the desire was innate. Consequently, the Thomist tradition stood accused of dividing the natural and the supernatural orders in a completely artificial way. This did not go down well (and still doesn’t).

Why should this seemingly arcane question be so important? Why should the relationship between the natural and the supernatural orders matter so much? That it was so considered is witnessed by the teaching of the encyclical Humani generis of Pius XII. In it, the pope warned those “others [who] destroy the gratuity of the supernatural order, since God, they say, cannot create intellectual beings without ordering and calling them to the beatific vision”. Was “modernism” coming back to life after all the efforts of previous popes? We’ll discuss this in the next exciting episode of “surnaturel”!

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

Some decisions just take time

Having mentioned the de auxiliis controversy in connection with the controversy over the supernatural, I was reminded about what eventually happened. From the Catholic Encyclopedia

Clement VIII died 5 March, 1605, and after the brief reign of Leo IX, Paul V ascended the papal throne. In his presence seventeen debates took place. The Dominicans were represented by Diego Alvarez and Tomçs de Lemos; the Jesuits by Gregoria de Valencia, Pedro de Arrubal, Fernando de Bastida and Juan de Salas. Finally, after twenty years of discussion public and private, and eighty-five conferences in the presence of the popes, the question was not solved but an end was put to the disputes. The pope's decree communicated (5 September, 1607) to both Dominicans and Jesuits, allowed each party to defend its own doctrine, enjoined each from censoring or condemning the opposite opinion, and commanded them to await, as loyal sons of the Church, the final decision of the Apostolic See. That decision, however, has not been reached, and both orders, consequently, maintain their respective theories, just as any other theological opinion is held.

The decision was reserved to the Apostolic See (to the offices of the Holy Inquisition, I believe), a decision which we still await. I have this picture in my mind of generations of monsignori slaving away in the deepest basement office of the CDF, charged with producing failed draft after failed draft of a dogmatic solution to the controversy. As each monsignor comes to the end of his life a bright new assignee to the Vatican is introduced into the office with a cheery “here’s your next assignment; you might be here for a while…”

Beats me why the Molinist position wasn’t condemned, but there you go…

Monday, 19 April 2010

For all those having a mental block today...

Sharply intelligent people who grasp a principle can immediately grasp its implications, whereas people who are less bright have to have each conclusion explained to them.

St. Thomas, Summa Theologiae, I.12.8

Sunday, 18 April 2010

The Natural Desire to See God

A little while ago, I mentioned a couple of books that I had spotted concerned with the twentieth century controversy over Henri de Lubac’s thesis on the supernatural.

I couldn’t resist, and these books have now arrived from over the seas (unfortunately, Sapientia Press doesn’t appear to have a UK distributor, so they have to be ordered from the US). I have already thrown myself straight into the first one as it looks utterly fascinating.

Lawrence Feingold, "Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and His Interpreters" 2nd Edition. Sapientia Press.

The first edition of this book is already famous for the controversy that it has reignited. For example, John Millbank described it as “arch-reactionary” in his interesting, but sadly shallow, “The Suspended Middle

I don’t pretend to be qualified to offer an adequate review of this book, but I thought I might offer a few reflections on some of the themes it discusses as I come across them. Like the controversy de auxiliis of the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, the controversy over the supernatural is bound to run and run! I’ll start in the next post with a general introduction to what the controversy is about.

Saturday, 17 April 2010

Thought for the Day

If we once grant that the criterion of truth, which ought to be intrinsic evidence deriving from first principles, lies instead in external acceptance by a majority, then we condemn reason to atrophy, to dullness, to self-abdication. Man learns to get along without mental exertion. He lives on a plane of neutral persuasion, led by public rumour. Reason is looked upon as incapable of finding the truth. We might be inclined to trace this abdication to a laudable humility. But, judged by its fruits, it engenders philosophic scepticism, conscious or unconscious, in an atmosphere ruled by mystic sentimentalism and hollow faith.

Cardinal Villeneuve, Archbishop of Quebec to the Thomistic Conference in Ottawa (1936), quoted in Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality 54

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Aquinas Reading Group

For any who might find themselves in the York area tomorrow, this is a reminder that the Aquinas Reading Group is meeting at 7.15 for 7.30pm at the Church Hall, English Martyrs, Dalton Terrace, York, UK.

We're looking at Question 6 of the first part; a little reminder about Question 5 might be found handy.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

Ethics Resources

I find one of the sad things about working in the biomedical sciences to be the exclusion of what might be called “classical ethics” in favour of either a broad consequentialism or Kantianism (or various mixtures of the two). You might like to have a read of this essay for a critical view on the state of the field that has come to be known as “bioethics”.

It is very heartening, therefore, to find effective modern resources in support of what might be called the perennial wisdom. Here are two books (twins as it were) that cover the theory and practice of classical ethics.

David Oderberg, “Moral Theory: A Non-Consequentialist Approach, Wiley-Blackwell.

David Oderberg, "Applied Ethics: A Non-Consequentialist Approach" , Wiley-Blackwell.

In particular, these are books on moral philosophy, rather than on moral theology, so that in using the arguments presented in them with secular audiences, one does not have to overcome anti-theological prejudice before attacking ethical prejudice. (Of course, since they are built on philosophical realism, they inhabit a thought world in which at least natural theology must be taken seriously.)

I don’t have time for a full review of these, but I’d like to point to the care and precision of the presentation of “Moral Theory” (which includes one of the best presentations of the doctrine of double effect that I’ve seen) and to the watertight analyses in “Applied Ethics” to the cases of abortion and euthanasia. (If there is a weakness in “Applied Ethics” it is in the discussion of the death penalty; I would not be happy defending the author’s point of view in public debate based on the argument he constructs here). Overall these are excellent books.

Hat-tip to Edward Feser and his blog.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Thought for the Day

It is an inspiring thought that we can not only stand in an early medieval church like Charlemagne’s Palatine chapel at Aachen (Aix-la-Chapelle), built 792-805, but also perform the chant sung at the time the chapel was built or soon after. Inspiring in more ways that one: most obviously because something embedded deep in our history becomes audible.

David Hiley, Introduction to Gregorian Chant, p 1.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Thought for the Day

After the time of St. Thomas moral theology often followed the order of the Decalogue, of which many precepts are negative. The saint himself follows the order of the virtues, theological and moral, showing their subordination and interconnections. These virtues he sees as functions of one and the same spiritual organism, functions supported by the seven gifts which are inseparable from charity. Thus moral theology is primarily a science of virtues to be practiced, and only secondarily of vices to be shunned. It is something much higher than casuistry, which is mere application to cases of conscience.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality 47

Friday, 9 April 2010

To Whitby Abbey

The family and I left the cave and headed across the North Yorkshire moors yesterday to visit Whitby Abbey and to look around the town itself. God’s own county is well appointed with the wreckage of our Christian past, but we do make foray across the borders occasionally to visit foreign ruins. The weather was excellent, making the approach into Whitby thoroughly spectacular. The first view is from many miles away and from height. The Abbey itself sits out on a windswept promontory, quite clear and commanding from distance. Then into Whitby and across the river on the way to the Abbey, the view of the harbour area is picture-postcard beautiful (at least until the car park fills up!)

The Abbey itself is one of many testimonies to that evil thug Henry VIII. Wrecked, and the bits and pieces handed out to one of his cronies. Still, what little remains is a beautiful memory to what had been…but little thanks to English Heritage who look after the site. We’ve taken to using the audio commentaries that are often handed out at sites like this in the UK; sometimes they can be very good indeed. But here, the commentary was terrible. It was twee nonsense seemingly written by someone who knew little of history and nothing of Christianity (all the more puzzling because the written guidebook is pretty good). There’s also a new visitor’s centre that just opened; a very pleasant building but with an extremely poor exhibition. I presume that it won its prizes for the architecture rather than the exhibition (leastwise, I hope it did!) Given that the Abbey has been developed as an educational/tourist site, what a missed opportunity; perhaps a symptom of the descent of this country in mediocrity and barbarism.

Still, we enjoyed our day and the drive back was as spectacular as the drive there.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Over at the Other Place

We're putting in a lot of work this week getting "Reading the Summa" up to date. The aim is to have summaries and supporting material for the first ten questions complete by the end of this week. The longer term aim is to get to the end of the treatise de deo uno before the beginning of next academic year.

So, if you fancy joining us remotely while we read through the summa, please wander over to the other place and take a look at the new materials we've put there.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Tecum Principium

Through the magic of music, sung texts become icons. Time is deployed with sovereign slowness in order to give contemplation all the space it needs all allow consciousness genuinely to settle into the encounter with the word.

The use of the drone, the note held by the lower voices – a form of polyphonic chant then called basilical organum – confers of the sound a hieratic immanence in which time and space are united in a single vibrant truth.

Marcel Peres, Liner Notes to “Incarnatio Verbi” Old Roman Chant

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

Thought for the Day

The first cause is act, existing from all eternity, is self-subsisting Being, in whom alone essence and existence are identified. Already here we see that nothing, absolutely no reality, can exist without Him, without depending on Him, without a relation to Him of causal dependence on Him.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality 5.4

Monday, 5 April 2010

Thought for the Day

[M]oral theology is identified with the spiritual life, with the love of God and docility to the Holy Spirit. Thus asceticism, which teaches the method of practicing virtue and shunning sin, is subordinated to mysticism, which teaches docility to the Holy Spirit, infused contemplation of the mysteries, and intimate union with God.

Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Reality, 47

Saturday, 3 April 2010

A Review of Hiley's "Gregorian Chant"

I mentioned David Hiley’s new textbook on Gregorian chant a couple of weeks ago. I’ve since read it and thought that a brief review might be in order.

David Hiley, “Gregorian Chant”, Cambridge University Press (2009), ISBN 978-0-521-87020-7 (Hardback) 978-0-521-69035-5 (Paperback)

David Hiley’s “Gregorian Chant” is the second title to appear in Cambridge University Press’s textbook series “Cambridge Introductions to Music”. In this series, each book “focuses on a topic fundamental to the study of music at undergraduate and graduate level” and “will also appeal to readers who want to broaden their understanding of the music they enjoy”. As someone who would place himself in the latter class of readers but who found Hiley’s “Western Plainchant” a bit overwhelming, I looked forward with anticipation to this book. I was not disappointed.

There are five chapters in the book. In the first, “Gregorian Chant in the Service of the Church”, we are given a thorough introduction to the liturgy of the Church and to the place of chant within it. Although the reader is assumed to be musically competent, there is little assumption made about knowledge of Christianity or of the liturgy of the Catholic Church. One of the immediately attractive features of the book is that the presentation of such information is accurate, sophisticated and sometimes quite beautiful. For example, we are told that:

In the liturgy mankind gives thanks and praise to God, who is present during the liturgy. Moreover, through the liturgy God acts to bestow His grace on mankind. He is praised because He is above all things, transcendent, distinct from the universe. He is thanked for creating the world and saving mankind through the gift of His son, Jesus Christ.

We also read substantial quotations from Gregory the Great (on the Eucharist) and from the rule of St Benedict (on the Divine Office). The structure of the Office and of the Mass are considered in detail, the liturgical year is described as are other liturgical services such as processions. A very nice feature in this chapter (which is continued as a running theme throughout the book) is the example of Worcester Cathedral. The architecture of the cathedral itself is described as well as the place of the cathedral within its grounds and within the city. This illustration helps situate the actions of the liturgy within the spaces appropriate to it. Later on, musical examples are transcribed from manuscripts from Worcester Cathedral as are good quality reproductions of some of these manuscripts.

In this opening chapter, we are introduced to the basics of the music theory appropriate to the chant, with range and final being associated with mode. The psalm tones make their appearance as do several examples of other elements of the sung liturgy.

The second chapter is historical in flavour, starting out from before Constantine the Great and running through St. Benedict and St Gregory, arriving at the Franks. A section is devoted to consideration of the transmission of the chant in an oral culture and an extended example is devoted to the question of the relationship between Gregorian and Old Roman chants. Two further sections then consider Western chant traditions outside Roman tradition. In the first, Gallican, Ambrosian and Beneventan chant are introduced as is the tragically untranscribable Hispanic tradition. In the second, we hear about the Eastern traditions. Again, this chapter is well supplied with examples and quotations. Some may be amused to read the following description of how liturgical abuse in a papal liturgy was to be dealt with, from the Ordo Romanus I:

And then [after the readers and singers have been nominated] no change may be made in either reader or singer: but if this should be done, the ruler of the choir shall be excommunicated by the pontiff.

The third chapter follows the development of the chant repertoire from the ninth through to the sixteenth century. We hear about historiae, sequences and tropes as well as the development of liturgical dramas such as the Play of Daniel. The development of the new religious orders is discussed together with their needs for new liturgical forms. The chapter closes with “the end of anonymity”, the point where we can start to reliably identify individual composers such as Hildergaard of Bingen.

Chapter four is the most technical of the book, covering the appropriate music theory as well as the various notations used to record the chant. Hiley covers just enough of the classical Greek theory, as transmitted though Boethius, to discuss the connection made in Carolingian times to Gregorian chant. There is an interesting discussion of the role of theory in “normalizing” existing chant melodies to theory and whether theory, having been developed sufficiently to encompass the chant, guided future composition. Extended coverage is given to the role of Guido of Arezzo in the development of notation and transmission of music. The fact that a sufficiently developed notation could enable people to learn new tunes without having heard them before caused wonderment. From the man himself we hear:

The pope was greatly pleased by my arrival, conversing much with me and inquiring of many matters. After repeatedly looking through our antiphoner as if it were some prodigy, and reflecting on the rules prefixed to it, he did not give up or leave the place where he sat until he had satisfied his desire to learn a verse himself without having heard it beforehand, thus quickly finding true in his own case what he could hardly believe of others.

The question of the interpretation of early notation is a complex one. Hiley gives an excellent introduction, focussing on three ninth century and two eleventh century staffless neume notations together with two staff based notations of the thirteenth century and an intermediate notation from Benevento in the twelfth century. The questions of pitch and rhythm are well covered and there are some very attractive photographic reproductions of manuscripts illustrating the different notation examples. The chapter closes with a discussion of the “modern” Solemnes notation, itself based on the thirteenth century Parisian style.

The fifth, very short, chapter discusses performance practice from the sixteenth century to the present, including the recovery of the medieval chant traditions by the monks of Solemnes. What is in this chapter is very well done, but I found this chapter the most frustrating because of the sheer brevity of the treatment; only eleven pages devoted to such an enormous topic. Since the book itself is not long (the main text running to 218 pages), it seems a shame that more space was not devoted to this topic. However, plenty of references are given, so I can already feel my credit card warming up.

Musical examples throughout are given in the same modern stemless notation used in “Western Plainchant”, there are excellent supporting appendices and the book is very well produced.

I’m sure that those who know better than me will argue certain points (whether Old Roman chant preceded or followed Gregorian chant, for example). Misprints are noticeable by their absence and I couldn’t detect any glaring errors (although I’m not sure that the description (p. 26) of the quicunque vult as a scriptural canticle is accurate).

I look forward to hearing what experts think of this book, but this amateur enjoyed it very much.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Good Friday

Postea sciens Jesus quia omnia consummata sunt, ut consummaretur Scriptura, dixit : Sitio. Vas ergo erat positum aceto plenum. Illi autem spongiam plenam aceto, hyssopo circumponentes, obtulerunt ori ejus. Cum ergo accepisset Jesus acetum, dixit : Consummatum est. Et inclinato capite tradidit spiritum