What If

So, I don’t actually know nearly enough to make these claims, so I’ll just pose it as suppositional.

What if chant—particularly the lacking-in-any-rhythmic-pulse variety—is really the ghost of Plato in Christian liturgy? Maybe the thing Christians have loved about those wafty chant melodies is how they obscure the beat, leave us with no sense of throb or pulse (like a human heart and its lusty desire to dance), leave us with only notes unencumbered by the rhythm of the blood coursing through our fleshly bodies.

Maybe chant is Platonism and the entrance of metricized settings of Scripture is the triumph of the Incarnation.

Maybe. But, seriously, I could be wrong.


  1. Aki Sue · March 19, 2012

    You come up with strange things. My dad might agree with you. But I think Mr. Justin would not.

  2. Han · June 13, 2012

    Really? Really, John? No one does chant the way it was supposed to be done. Plainsong is one of the danciest things there is.

  3. John Richard Ahern · June 14, 2012

    It’s dancy…according to David Erb and James Jordan. But eminent musicologists don’t seem to think so. Either they’re looking at something dancy through Plato glasses or JBJ is looking at something Platonic through dancy glasses. Go read the Rule of St. Benedict and tell me which you think they did.

    I wanna believe in the dancy chant! I do! I’m just still skeptical it’s really the “life blood of the Church”, as say two men I respect a ton.

  4. Aki Sue · June 14, 2012

    John, you really should talk to Justin about this. He spent a bit of time in, uh, France? at a monastery, learning how they’ve done chant for the past several hundred years. Their style is certainly not “dance-like,” in any sense of the word. Their style was meditative. But it was vibrant and alive like few other things that I’ve ever heard.

Think aloud.

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