Luke Clossey

Published On


Page Range

pp. 549–590


  • English

Print Length

42 pages

18. Elevated Speech and Song

  • Luke Clossey (author)
Focussing on Christian performance of their liturgy, and Muslim recitation of their Qur'an, this chapter looks at more systematic and controlled ways of vocalizing the word “Jesus” and Jesus-related texts, in terms of factors like pronunciation, volume, breath control, and coordination with other peoples' utterances. Systematizing Jesus vocalization with regular rules created subtle connections accessible only through the deep ken. Some Muslims scholars, especially, inclined towards the plain ken did take into account human limitations and historical, cultural particularities, as with Al-Suyuti's interest in the Bedouins. Examples treated in the chapter include the sequence Victimae Paschali Laudes, which outside of its liturgical context was sung while performing a ballgame-dance at Easter in France. Polyphony was explicitly linked to Jesus, who was the only person able to speak and sing polyphonically simultaneously. Deep-ken meaning was brought into polyphonic liturgical music, especially through the use of a cantus firmus and through mathematics. Josquin's masses (especially those built upon the secular tune “L'homme armé”), among others, numerically encoded Jesus references. Both polyphony and its use of secular melodies provoked condemnation.


Luke Clossey

Associate Professor of Global History at Simon Fraser University

Luke Clossey is an associate professor of global history at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. His first book, Salvation and Globalization in the Early Jesuit Missions (Cambridge UP, 2008), won the Canadian Historical Association's Ferguson Prize for best work of non-Canadian history; a chapter from it won a paper prize from the World History Association. His writings on global religion, the history of ideas, and history methodology have appeared in the Journal of World History, the Journal of Global History, the Journal of Early Modern History, the Sixteenth Century Journal, Global History Review 全球史评 论 , History Compass, the Wiley-Blackwell Companion to World Literature, and The Cambridge World History.