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date: 28 September 2020

Cecilian movement (Ger. Cäcilianismus)locked

  • Siegfried Gmeinwieser


(Ger. Cäcilianismus)

A 19th-century movement, centred in Germany, for the reform of Catholic church music. Reacting to the liberalization of the Enlightenment, the Cecilians sought to restore traditional religious feeling and the authority of the church. They regarded ‘true, genuine church music’ as being subservient to the liturgy, and intelligibility of words and music as more important than artistic individuality.

The movement took its name from St Cecilia, the legendary patron of sacred music and of the 15th-century Congregazioni Ceciliani. The latter inspired the formation of Caecilien-Bündnisse (Cecilian Leagues) in Munich, Passau, Vienna and elsewhere in the 1700s. These organizations of church musicians upheld the ideal of sacred music with little or no instrumental accompaniment; the organ was one of the few instruments accepted as liturgically correct. This line of thought extended unbroken from the Council of Trent (1545–63) through the various regional church councils (notably at Rome in 1725...

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