Singing Jeremiah

Singing Jeremiah

Music and Meaning in Holy Week
Robert L. Kendrick
Distribution: Global
Publication date: 05/05/2014
Format: Hardback 45 music exx., 1 b&w illus
ISBN: 978-0-253-01156-5
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A defining moment in Catholic life in early modern Europe, Holy Week brought together the faithful to commemorate the passion, crucifixion, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. In this study of ritual and music, Robert L. Kendrick investigates the impact of the music used during the Paschal Triduum on European cultures during the mid-16th century, when devotional trends surrounding liturgical music were established; through the 17th century, which saw the diffusion of the repertory at the height of the Catholic Reformation; and finally into the early 18th century, when a change in aesthetics led to an eventual decline of its importance. By considering such issues as stylistic traditions, trends in scriptural exegesis, performance space, and customs of meditation and expression, Kendrick enables us to imagine the music in the places where it was performed.

Author Bio

Robert L. Kendrick is Professor of Music at the University of Chicago. He is author of Celestial Sirens: Nuns and Music in Early Modern Milan and The Sounds of Milan, 1585–1650.


“This is a path-breaking study in the field of sacred music from the 16th-18th centuries. No one other than Kendrick has delved so deeply into the relationship between sacred music; its function within the larger spiritual sphere of religious art; its relationship to changing attitudes toward spiritual experience and expression; and the manner in which those attitudes differ from one monastic order to another, or among various kinds of ecclesiastical institutions.”
 — Jeffrey Kurtzman, author of The Monteverdi Vespers of 1610: Music, Context, Performance

“The great value of Kendrick’s contribution is not only his magisterial command of the Holy Week repertory itself, but also his interest in examining the rite as would an anthropologist: the darkened setting in court, cathedral, or monastery; the variations in local practice; and the meaning of the rite and its texts for both the performers and the faithful participating in the service.”
 — Colleen Reardon, author of Holy Concord within Sacred Walls: Nuns and Music in Siena, 1575-1700

“This a stunning piece of scholarship centered around a specific ritual in Western society and Christianity, and the music associated with it. Highly recommended.”
 — Choice

“[A] ground-breaking and invigorating study. . . [this] study will undoubtedly keep the knowledge of these Offices alive in the minds of musicologists, and of more general readers, for a long time to come.”
 — Early Music

“This groundbreaking study brings together fascinating facts and materials, varied discussions, and a layered organization of its material in condensed, scholarly, and sophisticated language. It requires some basic knowledge of its subject on the part of its readers. The book will be a valuable addition to any academic and large public library, and constitutes a significant source for academics, scholars, theologians, and musicians interested in details of the Triduum, its ritual, and its music.”
 — Music Reference Services Quarterly

“Handsomely produced, and accompanied by useful appendixes detailing the contents, verse selections, and modal organizations of selected Holy Week cycles, Singing Jeremiah mines an obscure yet inexhaustibly rich vein of music that expressed profound sentiments of devotion and penance.”
 — Renaissance Quarterly

“Robert Kendrick has provided the interested reader with a huge amount of information, with great cultural-historical, and not least music-historical perspectives. It is an important book, which takes seriously the idea that liturgical music was also—and remains—theological, cultural, and ritual practice.”
 — Music and Letters

“Kendrick's command of the complex layers of meaning attached to the ritual and musical performance of Tenebrae cannot fail to impress. Singing Jeremiah is a significant contribution to understanding the richness of early modern Catholicism.”
 — Church History

“Kendrick’s book is essential reading for anyone engaging with the sacred/secular dichotomy in early modern music and the socio-liturgical context of music.”
 — Notes

“Written in careful musical detail and with an admirable comprehension of the environment in which the music developed, Kenrick’s book will be a reliable source for both musicians and liturgical scholars for many years to come. ”
 — Antiphon

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Table of Contents

Terminology, Abbreviations, Texts
1. Symbolic Meanings, Sonic Penance
2. Textual Understandings, Musical Expressions
3. Devotion, Models, Circulation, 1550-1600
4. Dynastic Tenebrae
5. Static Rites, Dramatic Music
6. European Tenebrae c. 1680
7. Ad honorem Passionis: Triduum Music and Rational Piety
8. Endings and Continuities
Appendix: Tables 1-4

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