Roman Catholic church music
- Joseph Dyer
This article surveys the liturgical and ‘paraliturgical’ music of the Roman Catholic Church from the time of the Council of Trent (1545–63), summoned by Pope Paul III to counteract the changes taking place in the Church in the wake of the Reformation.
The liturgical diversification that had occurred in Europe during the first half of the 16th century was to have a profound effect both on the role of music in worship and on its style. Some Reformers rejected all music except unison congregational song, while others saw the value of continuing older practices and adapting contemporary musical styles to a new repertory in the vernacular. The Council, in response, reasserted the use of Latin and Latin plainchant in the Catholic liturgy, prohibited singing in the vernacular, approved the use of polyphony and rejected secular musical influences. From this point in the history of music, therefore, it is possible to begin to speak of a distinctly ‘Roman Catholic’ musical tradition....