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Re: [liturgy-l] Hormones

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  • Lewis Whitaker
    I had always assumed that the castrati were fully castrated. Although just a snip doesn t seem like much of a vas deferens. Oh you could see that one coming a
    Message 1 of 42 , Apr 7, 2013
      I had always assumed that the castrati were fully castrated. Although just a snip doesn't seem like much of a vas deferens. 

      Oh you could see that one coming a mile away!



      On Apr 7, 2013, at 1:57 PM, Douglas Cowling <cowling.douglas@...> wrote:

      From: David J Strang <davidjstrang@...>
      Subject: Re: [liturgy-l] First Mass of Easter question

      Then I realized she was a transsexual. I was startled one year to have an attractive woman sit next to me and join in the singing of the bass part of the "Halleluia" Chorus.  Hormonal therapy easily converts a soprano to a bass, but not the reverse.
       

      Beginning in the late 16th century, it was common to inflict a surgical snipping of the vas deferens in talented prepubescent choir boys to prevent the normal breaking of the voice and preserve the soprano voice into adulthood. These 'castrati' (although their testicles were not removed) dominated opera and church music until almost the end of the 18th century (Mozart's "Exultate Jubilate" was the last great work written for male soprano).

      Although the use of choir boys was normative for most Catholic and all Lutheran and Anglican choirs, it's astonishing that the Sistine Chapel choir never had choirboys but remained an adult choir with falsettists in the 16th century and castrati until the end of the 19th century.

      The last castrato was actually recorded in 1902.  He was never a great singer and he was recorded at the end of his career, but you get an idea of what a child's voice in the body of a man sounded like:


      It was only in 1903 as part of the liturgical reforms that Pius X gave the Sistine Choir a new constitution which banned the use of castrati and established a choir school for boys. Thus, the modern choir of bleating Italian men and boys is only a century old.

      Although musicians and historians snigger at the castrati, it remains a horrific instance of both institutionalized child abuse -- the boys themselves often requested the operation to ensure a lucrative career!— and almost psychopathic misogyny.  When one cardinal allowed a woman to sing in a sacred oratorio by Handel  — not even in a church — the pope threatened to have her publically flogged.

      And lest non-Catholics think themselves immune from such extremes, the kidnapping of talented choirboys was common by the Tudor monarchs, and one of Bach's predecessors was imprisoned for sexual abuse, escaping to Italy, but returning to Germany when his reputation was "rehabilitated".

      Doug Cowling
      Director of Music
      St. Philip's Church, Etobicoke
      Toronto


       
    • paulweary
      ... And of course the Moravians had a great influence on the Wesley brothers. John Wesley encountered Moravians on his voyage to Georgia and was impressed that
      Message 42 of 42 , Apr 15, 2013
        --- In liturgy-l@yahoogroups.com, Frank Senn <fcsenn@...> wrote:
        >
        > Liturgy based on hymnody continues to be the characteristic of Moravian worship as can be seen in the Moravian Hymnal.

        And of course the Moravians had a great influence on the Wesley brothers. John Wesley encountered Moravians on his voyage to Georgia and was impressed that during a storm at sea, while everyone else was panicking the Moravians responded with prayer and song. Moravians in London were intrumental in his 'conversion experience' and he subsequently visited Herrnhut. Many Moravian hymns were translated into English by John Wesley and I suspect were influential in Charles Wesley's development as a hymn writer.

        Perhaps this suggests another route by which the 'hymn sandwich' entered the Anglican church; through the Methodist revival.

        Paul Weary
        Methodist Church
        Islington and Camden Circuit
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